Does Experience Sell Products or Do Products Sell Experience?

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So let’s take our previous post to the next level. As a marketeer, we need to create Transparency, Authenticity, and Community (TAC) for our companies in order to build brand and strong customer relationships. But the fundamental question is how do we project our desire to engage? The market has never been more crowded, the chatter has never been louder, the media choices more varied, and the dollars we’re all competing for – and have to spend – have never been more scarce. Our consumers are more sophisticated, media-savvy, and are fully aware that they have the ultimate control. If we’re striving to implement a TAC strategy then not only can consumers easily choose to interact with us but they can just as easily choose NOT to interact. Bottom line – it’s never been easier for us to turn them off and for them to tune us out as we ply our trade.

So what’s a poor marketeer to do?

How can we not only get our virtual foot in the door – but get invited to stay for coffee? The answer – Experience. Not experience in terms of expertise or know-how, but “a particular instance of personally encountering or undergoing something”. It could be something amusing, it could be thought-provoking, it could be scary – but whatever it is, it creates a visceral impact that imprints itself on the psyche of your prospect. It is that instantaneous impression that a great piece of music, poetry, a great sports play, a person falling on a banana peel; anything which invokes an immediate emotional response which diverts attention from maintaining the mental guard rails so finely tuned to keep us out. Hit consumers quickly and emotionally and suddenly they’re vulnerable. The combination of speed and emotional impact is simply irresistible. Think about the best campaigns you’ve ever seen – you don’t just see them or read them – you experience them. They can become part of the popular zeitgeist well beyond the “messages” of the product they purport to sell. And they succeed in seconds. Given the varied forms and especially, the cost effectiveness, of multi-media available to today’s marketeers why is experience so hard to convey? Why aren’t there more interesting, exciting, and effective marketing campaigns & innovations going on? Why are we just seeing pale repetitions of MadMen marketing – methods that are over 40 years old – in the digital age? The answer is simple: people hate risk and business people REALLY hate risk. When dollars are scarce and competition fierce no one wants to be holding the bag of a failed campaign especially if that campaign has utilized new media, delivery technologies, and techniques. As marketing has become a more numbers driven science, we are in danger of losing the art – just when advances in production, digital media, and pervasive distribution have become truly cost effective. If we’re going to create the climate for meaningful consumer – company interaction – the definition of success – we have to take risks to spark that flame. We need to use the new media and new methods to their fullest potential and that means casting off the old models. We need to liberate our strategy from the simple tyranny of “metrics” to the fine art of creating experiences – that elusive first touch. The ROI of the initial touch in this model cannot necessarily be measured in and of itself, but you will see the benefits in the subsequent interactions between your company and your prospects. You will see more consumers willing to interact with you and re-enforce your TAC loop. You just need patience, imagination, and the willingness to take the risk. Experience sells!

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