Archive for the ‘Experiences’ Category

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Changing the Marcom Mindset (part IX) – Developing Your New Mindset

February 10, 2010

This is the last post in this series. I wanted to leave you with a list of things you can do to change your mindset about marketing communications.

Become an experienceologist – Spend time observing and thinking about what elements makes something a great experience. And then study the methods professional experience designers use to create experiences. When creating marcom experiences, think more like a game designer, theme park designer, or product designer.

See people as participants – Stop thinking of people exclusively as a passive audience. The user mindset is far different than the viewer mindset, and if you don’t adapt to the participant mindset, your work will fail to engage consumers.

Discard old ways of doing things – invent new ways. Too many agency practices were designed specifically to create one-to-many messages. Agencies need to introduce practices that promote making experiences.

Add human factors expertise to your agency – Human factors, usability, cognitive ergonomics, whatever you want to call it, agencies need a much better understanding of how people actually interact with technology and the world around them.

Think value and utility – Ad people have been conditioned to see themselves as artists, storytellers, and entertainers. Ad folk of the future will be charged with creating activities that provide true utility and value to consumers.

Incorporate marcom into the brand itself – Nike+ was a great example of extending the value of a physical product through information technology. Are there ways you can add value by extending the way people use your products?

Think long term – Because brand managers and CMOs are rewarded for short term results, we’ve fallen into a trap of short term thinking. Brand equity is snowball, and long term brand success only comes from developing long term relationships with consumers. Every activity you create should provide real connections with future activities.

Invite vs. interrupt – Transitioning from an interruption mindset to an invitation mindset is a huge challenge for most marketing people. Marketers who invite more than they interrupt have a much better chance of engaging more consumers over the long haul.

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Changing the Marcom Mindset (part VII) – Marcom as an Experience

February 2, 2010

I’ve touched on these ideas in previous posts:

  • Brands are experiences
  • Winning brands are the best experiences
  • Extraordinary experiences are interactive and provide pleasure or meaning
  • Brand experiences can happen on many levels beyond product use

So what do experiences have to do with marketing communications?

Marketing communications (Advertising, PR, etc.) is rarely an experience, or sometimes even a bad experience. Marketing usually interrupts what people are doing. It’s loud, condescending, or irrelevant – a barrier between us and another experience – an experience we chose.

Most marcom isn’t pleasurable or meaningful either. It provides no benefit or value to our lives, and as a result it isn’t something we choose to engage with.

Most marcom isn’t interactive. Marketers still see consumers as a passive audience, calling them readers, viewers, or listeners, and continue to see their job as creating and broadcasting commercial messages TO them.

What can marcom people learn from products and services?

Marcom folk can learn alot from the products/services they’ve advertised and promoted for decades.

Marcom needs to be more like brands: An experience. Something people choose to engage in over other experiences. This is a mindset shift of monumental proportions, especially for those who’ve spent years creating 30 second spots and print ads.

Marcom an experience? Something people do? Something people will choose to do instead of avoid?

These ideas might sound a bit strange, but the old Marcom mindset of creating and pushing commercial messages to the masses isn’t going to cut it in the future.

Next time: Mindsets are Hard to Break

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Changing the Marcom Mindset (part VI) – Experiences are Broad

January 28, 2010

Brand experiences happen on many levels. Let’s use beer as an example. There is an immediate sensory aspect of the beer experience: the chill of the bottle, the color and texture of the pour, the aroma, the taste…but the brand experience doesn’t end there.

The brand experience goes beyond product/service experience

Price is also an important factor in the beer experience, but the social and environmental situations in which a beer is consumed is equally or more important. If a brand can build a strong association with pleasurable or meaningful social situations, those experiences can become part of the brand experience.

Beer marketers recognize they’re limited in how they can improve the brand experience by what they put in the bottle, so for decades they’ve used advertising and promotion to suggest an association with other experiences.

But advertising is almost always passive. A suggestion of an experience isn’t an experience, even if consumers associate a particular beer brand with certain experiences in their mind. In the future brands will need to work harder by augmenting the experiences they want to be associated with.

Next Time: Marcom as an Experience

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Changing the Marcom Mindset (part V) – The Nuances of Experiences

January 20, 2010

Brand experiences typically deliver pleasure or meaning through benefits:

  • Saves time or effort
  • Saves money or makes money
  • Provides security and peace of mind
  • Boost self esteem and social status
  • Provides fun or enjoyment.

Things that make experiences better

One way brands can dial up the pleasure and meaning generated by their experience is through personalization and customization, but there are other still other elements that can differentiate great brand experiences from the others. Brands that offer a sense of discovery, something new or unique, or something that is exclusive/scarce can set themselves apart from the competition.

Don’t forget utility

There’s one last thing I want to touch on before moving on. Many brands, if not all brands, offer an element of utility. Keep this in mind when we move on to a discussion of why most marketing communications provide no utility for consumers.

Next time: Experiences are Broad

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Changing the Marcom Mindset (part IV) – Pleasure and Meaning

January 19, 2010

The second requirement of an extraordinary experience is the intensity of pleasure and meaning it provides. Pleasure is a state that is more about a sensation or feeling – something that is usually short-lived. Meaning is more about intellect and understanding – something that’s long lasting.

The lists below contain examples of both. The ‘meaning list’ is mostly borrowed from a presentation by Shedroff.

Intensity matters

Extraordinary experiences provide a high intensity of pleasure, meaning, or both. Brands need to think about what kind of pleasure or meaning they’re trying to evoke and find ways to dial up their intensity.

Next time: The Nuances of Experiences

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Changing the Marcom Mindset (part III) – Experiences and Interactivity

January 13, 2010

So if brands are experiences, shouldn’t we understand the basic things that determine whether an experience is good or not?

What experiences are made of

Extraordinary experiences usually have two qualities: 1) they’re interactive and 2) they provide pleasure or meaning.

Almost every brand I can think of offers some element of interactivity. Consumers USE most products and services, so it stands to reason brands are interactive. The quality of the interactive experience is also important.

Most products and services also have a sensorial element. You can see them, taste them, smell them, touch them, or hear them. Interactivity that involves more than one of our senses can be very powerful.

Nathan ShedroffWhat is interactivity?

In the mid ‘90s Nathan Shedroff diagrammed an interactivity continuum. It does a great job of illustrating the factors that make something interactive. This continuum can be used to analyze different types of media, but also evaluate almost any human activity. High levels of interactivity plotted on the right and low levels on the left.

You can even use this scale to analyze how one brand stacks up against another. In almost every case, brands that provide higher levels of interactivity are more successful than their counterparts.

Some brands can even create interactivity that results in a flow experience, such as video games, adventure vacations, and toys.

Next time: Meaning, Pleasure, and Intensity

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Changing the Marcom Mindset (part II) – Understanding Brands

January 12, 2010

Before discussing how marketing communications needs to change, we need a better understanding what brands are, and why people buy one brand over another.

There are two concepts marketers need to grasp in order to change their current marcom mindset.

1. All brands are experiences.

I don’t care if you’re a toothpaste or bakery shop, every brand is an experience. Until marketers and agencies realize brands are experiences, their mindset will be a barrier to creating marcom activities that can change how people think or feel about their brand.

Fortunately, most large brands, particularly consumer electronics manufacturers and retailers already understand they’re selling experiences. Some brands even hire people with titles like Experience Designer. The important thing is to understand is every touch-point with the consumer is part of the brand experience, and the brand experience goes far beyond the time a consumer spends using a product or service.

2. Brands that create the best experiences win in the marketplace.

Think about it. The best brands in every category are the brands that create the best experiences. Southwest Airlines, Apple, Zappos, etc. When you start to think about brands as experiences, you really begin to understand why certain brands are winners, and others are losers.

A choice of experiences

Brands also compete with experiences that may not be in their category. A bag of chips competes with a milkshake, concerts compete with books, a great dinner competes with a new pair of jeans, and a new car competes with a kitchen remodel.

People are constantly seeking and buying experiences that provide the most pleasure and meaning in their lives.

How we find and choose experiences

Traditionally, brands attract new consumers by promising their experience is more pleasurable or meaningful than alternative experiences. Marketers use one-to-many channels like TV, radio, and print to communicate these promises, to paint a picture for consumers: ‘you could be part of this experience’.

Today, we learn more about products and services, ‘good experiences’ if you will, from friends, family and acquaintances. We also rely on the opinions of complete strangers, from the celebrities we admire to online reviewers. I point this out to tease a subsequent post – the experience of finding an experience also matters. Consumers now have better tools, better experiences to find better experiences.

Next time: Experiences and Interactivity