More often than not, I can resist the upsell, especially when I’m corralling two small children in an oh-so-breakable store like Williams-Sonoma. But not this time.
Experiential marketing won me over.
Armed with a bit of background research and a solid idea of what I wanted to spend, I walked into the store and asked for the specific make and model of our soon-to-be shiny new Nespresso machine for my husband’s birthday. I should have handed the associate my card and walked out.
Instead, I was approached from all sides—one associate who happened to be a grandmother with a secret stash of cookies to sugar my children while I shopped and a second associate, the manager (ok, John), who asked if I would like a cup of coffee to try out the machine. Of course I craved someone to fuel me with a cup of coffee while my children were being entertained with kitchenware.
As John was showing me the interworkings of the upsell—the “Plus” model—I was convinced that I only wanted the perfectly-constructed cup of coffee and would stick with my original choice. I didn’t need an automatic open and close lever or a milk frother. But then, out comes the Aeroccino. The milk swirled around in an almost-silent capsule and transformed into a velvety liquid pour, layering the drink perfectly.
How could I get a Nespresso machine without a milk frother? Or clear mugs? Or a couple of extra capsule flavors to try? The experience was immersive…and lovely.
By giving me an experience, John was able to tap into my senses and my emotions, immersing me into the buying process and convincing me that I needed the other elements to complete our at-home experience.
[He saw me coming from a mile away.]
CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE MANAGEMENT
There are two schools of thought surrounding buying behavior—the consumer who processes information and the consumer who experiences information. While some people make rational purchase decisions, many more are motivated by emotions.
The information processor marketing approach concentrates on the utilitarian functionality, namely the features and benefits of a product or service. And while some consumers may start there in the buying process, many don’t end there.
It is the experience—a perception, feeling and mental models—that convinces a consumer to buy and remain brand loyal. Even framing purchase situations differently through branding and marketing communications alters the way someone looks at the brand. For example, instead of focusing on specific categories such as a haircut, highlights or shampoo + conditioner, widen the lens as a consumption experience, such as “a day at the salon.” For the business owner, this image ignites opportunities to involve and engage with the customer with various touchpoints, opening the door for increased sales potential. For the customer, this image creates a sense of immersion into the experience, broadening their desire for relaxation and full service beauty treatments, inviting heightened impulse buying for a richer experience.
Brand experiences are more than just associations; they are feelings, thoughts and behavioral responses generated by the experience. Think about Apple’s brand experience—from its packaging to the user interface and device functionality to communications and customer service interactions—Apple dips its users into a pleasure state, immersing them into experiences that heighten the sensual, intellectual and emotive states.
I’ll discuss the Brand Experience Scale in PART 2 of this post and show how small businesses can apply these customer experiences into their own brand.
Your brand identity is what makes you unique.
Being identifiable in the marketplace will help create brand recognition and allow consumers to clearly decipher your offerings. From the look of your visual designs to the scent of your business space and products you use, consumers are drawn to the sensorial benefits of your brand and will relate the look, flavor, smell and texture to their physical experience of your business.
Before a customer steps into your business and experiences all the services and senses your brand has to offer, your prospect is likely to visually associate a name or image with your company, such as a logo or picture. When it comes to developing a business name and logo, remember that nearly 50% of our brain is devoted directly or indirectly to vision and visual processing. Consumers are flooded with visual stimulus and are therefore forced to sift through the content and make complex processing decisions. What elements are necessary in your brand identity to attract your customers and influence their purchase decisions?
10 Key Ingredients in Your Brand Identity:
Our brain makes decisions based on what information will grab our attention, if the information is easy to comprehend and if the information will encourage action. Sometimes even the youngest audience is the most aware of visual brand recognition and persuaded to act. As young as two years old, children are able to detect logo recognition, such as Disney, in different contexts including on television, in a book or on a product. Starting at a young age, our brains are wired to construct our reality and make sense of the world by visually interpreting its surroundings. Since we have stored information based on personal experiences, some logos are able to resonate meaning without a customer stepping foot into your business. Take for example the Apple and Microsoft brands. Just thinking about their logos or recalling their advertisements, the essence of their brand is clearly conveyed even before using their products. One is “hip” and one is “square.” (We’ll dig deeper into brand meanings later…).
The old adage “Pictures are worth a thousand words” rings true. Consumers do not passively absorb coherent images; it is an active process of constructing and interpreting our connection with visual stimulus. Word marks, font types, symbols and colors all hold distinguishing characteristics that resonate meaning to a consumer, as everything we see is a personal, subjective experience, where we transform our understanding of reality into actual reality. That is why business owners develop target markets—to attract the people that will resonate with their brand and its offerings. Check out the graphic below on color meaning to ensure that your color palette is visually communicating your message clearly.
How healthy is your brand identity? No matter the size, location or service offerings of your business, the strength of your brand identity will have a direct impact on your bottom line.