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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 leastthat's the driving principle behind the new wave of"experiential marketing." Real-life experiences shape ouropinions and buying preferences more profoundly than merely hearingabout someone else's. Experiential marketing uses events tobring customers into one-on-one contact with a product or brand tocreate memorable experiences. This year, at least half of all executives surveyed by marketing agency the PatrickMarketing Group plan to increase their spending on events. And newresearch finds that events may be more influential than TV ordirect mail in affecting customers' purchasing decisions.

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

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