How Long Does It Take to Launch an Experiential Marketing Campaign?


So you’ve begun concepting an experiential marketing campaign. Perhaps you and your creative team are bouncing ideas off each other. And maybe it feels like you have all the time in the world before it’s crunch time. After all, this exciting time brings with it a fresh feeling of possibilities.

However, as any industry vet can attest, this feeling quickly fades when you start mapping out the logistics. Campaigns can easily spiral out of control—and you exceed budget and time frames. What was once an exhilarating possibility is now a grim reality.

It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s entirely possible to keep an experiential campaign on target. The key? Having a launch strategy in place.

At the root of any successful launch is a clear, concise set of expectations. Establishing a realistic, feasible timeline can guide your project. And knowing exactly how long a campaign will take to launch can help guarantee its success.

As a rule of thumb, experiential marketing campaigns take 12 weeks to launch.

While three months may seem long, know that time flies in the creative industry. Plus, there are hundreds of variables: Clients are added, clients churn, projects are delayed, and so forth. Thus, it makes complete sense to plan in week-long intervals to ensure you get the most from your campaign.

Let’s review the action items you should follow during this 12-week process.

Twelve Weeks Out: Put Together Your Pitch

Consolidate all information into a format where it makes sense from start to finish so that you can sell the idea to anyone. If you can’t explain how something works, chances are that it won’t.

Eleven Weeks Out: Figure Out Your Team

No matter the campaign, there will be different stakeholders with different interests. Spend this week interviewing them to assess their needs. Show them you know what you’re doing and work to receive their support.

Ten Weeks Out: Decide Who’s in Charge

This week is about delegating roles and responsibilities. Make sure that all necessary parts are working together to create forward momentum toward a finished product.

Nine Weeks Out: Get Vendors on Board

Behind every piece of hardware and software is a vendor. By now, you should already have written down everything you’re going to need. Now is the time to go get it from vendors that you can trust. 

Eight Weeks Out: Identify Deliverables

Week eight is about deciding what you need to accomplish. Sticking to a stringent rollout timeline is critical, so make sure you have a list of things that need to be completed and someone with the authority to nudge—or even push—your team to hit deadlines.

Seven Weeks Out: Hammer Out Your Execution Plan

how-long-does-it-take-to-launch-an-experiential-marketing-campaign-2.pngIf you have a plan for how your technology is supposed to function but are still fuzzy on who’s doing what—and exactly what it’ll take to bring the concept to life—week seven is the time to figure it all out.

Create a checklist to outline the following:

Six Weeks Out: Finish Making Reservations

Does your experiential marketing campaign use private, semi-private, or public spaces? Now is the time to ensure that the logistics of venue planning are taken care of.

Five Weeks Out: Get Content in Place

Make sure your content and images are in the correct formats, integrate into your content management system, and are displaying correctly. Spend week five testing how things look and working with your content and graphics teams to get things just right.

Four Weeks Out: Start Preliminary Promotion

You’re in the final stretch. With a month left, it’s time to spread the word and ready your PR efforts.

Three Weeks Out: Recap

You’re almost to the finish line. Take a step back during week three and look at the numerous moving parts of the campaign. Run through your lists of requirements and checklists to see if there’s anything that you might have missed along the way.

Two Weeks Out: Test, Test, Test

No matter how much time and effort you’ve put into your campaign, there’s still a possibility that something was overlooked. With two weeks out, you should have a pretty good idea of how this experience is going to run. Take a couple of days to see how everything is working together.

One Week Out: Finalize Installation Plan

how-long-does-it-take-to-launch-an-experiential-marketing-campaign.jpgThe dry runs are over. Now it’s time to see how your experiential marketing campaign works. This means bringing together your hardware and software vendors and anyone else involved with setup and the venue. It also means having the actual technology set up, turned on, and integrated.

It’s go time for your experiential marketing campaign. 

In theory, there should be no reason to be worried. You’ve spent the last three months preparing for this big day. Having your resources in line and functioning properly will allow you to react calmly and confidently to anything that happens on launch day. 

However, it’s important to note that your job isn’t over. To truly ensure success, you still need to distribute your campaign and measure its results. Now is the time to analyze data from your audience, social media, and follow-up survey responses. 

Each experiential marketing campaign is different—and so is the experience of launching one. For more information, download our 12-Week Guide to a Successful Experiential Marketing Activation.