Customer experience and experiential marketing – both the buzz phrases of recent years have given us marketers new phrases on which to hang the hats of our strategies. We tell organisations that they must get closer to their audiences, understand their interactions and create fun and engaging adventures into which we can draw potential customers to interact with the brand.
But what’s so new? Have we really only just woken up to the idea that knowing our customers and showing them a good time is the way to win friends and influence people? Of course we haven’t.
Marketers, brand gurus and customer service leaders have been doing this forever but somehow we lost our way and decided that the thing that mattered most was the right pantone colour or jumping ahead of a competitor on a key google search term.
And, whilst I’m all a fan of brand consistency and minor search engine victories, I know what I put first every day is what my clients need from me. I know what motivates them (from sales to social justice) and I put all my efforts into making their experience working with our team one that differentiates us from the crowd.
What I’ve come to realise, both through personal and professional experience, is that it often isn’t the big things, brand positioning or latest marketing campaigns that make a difference to customer experience we deliver. It’s when the chef at Pizza Express gives a 5 year old a ball of their own dough to knead at the table because they have noticed he is obsessively watching the pizza production process; it’s when the lady at the Benefit make-up counter overhears you talking about the annoyance of decanting moisturiser into a travel bottle and gives you a free mini for your washbag. Experiences that make a difference, stick with you and make a positive connection with a brand. It makes their way of doing things what works for you.
The people on the coal-face of an organisation who don’t know the brand colour and have never Googled their place of work are usually the ones to deliver that experiential marketing. They are, more often, the ones that recognise our customers as individuals with specific needs to meet. It makes it crucial that we gather and utilise the insights and experience from our ground troops with the same vigour and enthusiasm as we employ when in the boardroom mapping our sales processes.
So, I’m stepping away from the 5-year plan to go and to talk to my team about the interactions they had with our clients this week and to make sure they know their value.