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A "hands-on" approach to marketing your product could be just the thing to win customers.

This story appears in the September 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Personal experience is the best teacher-at least that's the driving principle behind the new wave of "experiential marketing." Real-life experiences shape our opinions and buying preferences more profoundly than merely hearing about someone else's. Experiential marketing uses events to bring customers into one-on-one contact with a product or brand to create memorable experiences. This year, at least half of all U.S. marketing executives surveyed by marketing agency the Patrick Marketing Group plan to increase their spending on events. And new research finds that events may be more influential than TV or direct mail in affecting customers' purchasing decisions.

The "Experiential Marketing Survey" conducted by Sponsorship Research International (SRI) for Jack Morton Worldwide found that 43 percent of women said experiential marketing was most likely to cause them to purchase a product or service quickly, compared to traditional advertising channels (20 percent) and direct mail (37 percent). What's more, after participating in a live event marketing experience for a product or brand, almost 9 out of 10 consumers agreed they would be more receptive to future advertising for that product. Even Generation Y respondents ages 18 to 23 rated experiential marketing their medium of choice for influencing purchases.

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