Has your marketing plan expired?

Why your marketing initiatives may be costing you money

We are currently living in the Conceptual Age.  We’ve gone from hunter-gatherer to farmer-settler, through the Industrial Age and out of the Information Age into the Conceptual Age movement where we now sell ideas and innovative concepts. This movement was born out of living in a world of abundance and has generated cultural creatives.

Creativity has high value in a Conceptual Age and it is not always synonymous with effectiveness since an emotional side of a design may be more critical to a product's success than its practical elements. It is better to understand how your message will be perceived. How will your end-user interact with your message? Telling a story is the best way to get your end-user engaged in your product/message/design. You don't need to write a lengthy story, but develop the visual and contextual information so that it resonates emotionally with your end-user. Your story should be relevant through every touchpoint of your Consumer’s Journey. 

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A person looking for a drill bit isn't really looking for a drill bit; they're looking for a hole. 

Although we navigate through a different world today as Cultural Creatives in a Conceptual world, our brains have remained mostly primal in the need to conserve energy and simply survive.  As a result, the way we process information is different in today’s world and we are over inundated with information in a world of abundance.  In the end, most information pushed to us is ignored.  Our senses are taking in about 11 million bits of information every second.  Most of that comes through our eyes, but all the other senses are contributing as well - hearing, touch, smell, taste, and spatial sensations.  Our conscious brains, that part of thinking in which we are aware of thinking-can only process, at best, 40 bits of information per second.   All the rest is processing subconsciously. Thus, most of purchasers buying decisions are based on emotional connection.

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Most of us are unable to easily detect the error in the above content.  The reasons is because we live in a world of mass information and our brains, in order to conserve energy, are lazy.  The brain overlooks or will substitute information for what we expect.

Marketers have always had the responsibility to ensure their message reaches the intended audience and they rely on creativity to attract the attention of their market segmentation. However, most of today’s marketing messages overlook the emotional appeal and the power of the subconscious mind to make decisions on what products and services to purchase.  As a result, more companies are adapting Experience-based Marketing and Design practices to better connect with their audiences and meet a higher ROI and ROC [Return on Creativity].

Experience-based design (XD) is the practice of designing products, processes, services, events, and environments with a focus placed on the quality of the user experience and culturally relevant solutions, with less emphasis placed on increasing and improving functionality of the design.  An emerging discipline, experience design attempts to draw from many sources including cognitive psychology and perceptual psychology, linguistics, cognitive science, architecture and environmental design, product design, information design, information architecture, brand management, interaction design, service design, storytelling, and design thinking.

An early example of Experience-based Marketing and Design comes from the Betty Crocker Company who introduced its ready-made-cake with a “just add water” concept to make life easier in the 1950’s.  Unfortunately, the product failed when it first hit the supermarket shelves. A study conducted by market researchers found that "The customer felt no sense of accomplishment, no involvement with the product. It made her feel useless, especially if somewhere her aproned mom was still whipping up cakes from scratch."[1] The solution to the problem was simple - have the cook add an egg to the mix and "thereby putting pride back into the activity". 

Does your company have a missing egg in your ingredients?

Does your company have a missing egg in your ingredients?

9 out of 10 consumers say they would spend more to get a superior customer experience.

Traditional marketing methods are becoming outdated as increased research in the fields of neuroscience reveal our emotional minds and habits.

Consider the following checklist to determine your needs for integrating Experience-based Marketing and Design [XD] practices into your business model

1) Are you including Psychographic marketing research to assist in determining your audience’s lifestyle values and characteristics? 

Psychographics is often associated with IAO variables (Interests, Activities and Opinions) and is used by marketing firms to design a product, campaign or program that appeals to a specific audience by identifying their common personality traits, values, opinions, attitudes, interest and lifestyle.   

While demographics focuses on historic generations and classification of groups such as Baby Boomer Generation or Generation X, psychographics identifies groups based on common beliefs, attitudes, values and behaviors. 

Purchases are often related to brands and products through lifestyle and interests and less connected by a generation classification.  Psychographic profiles can be a useful tool for the multifamily housing industry that is focused on creating a strong marketing plan that does not violate Fair Housing laws.  Instead of creating a marketing plan that is based off of the needs of individuals, you are able to create experiences based on what a community desires most; thus, making your product more memorable in the minds of your audience.

2) Are you practicing Neuronaming for any projects or products you are developing?

Consider this: Did you know that...“Students whose names start with A or B earn higher grades than those with C or D names. Baseball players whose names start with K strike out slightly more often than the rest of the player population (a strikeout is marked as a “K”). Is this effect real?”  Studies like these suggest we should take into consideration Implicit Egotism when creating names for appropriate markets. Implicit Egotism is a theory in psychology which asserts that most people associate positively with themselves and therefore tend to prefer things connected to themselves.

Attempt to pair these two images with the appropriate name. Which image best represents the name Maluma? And, which image best represents the name Takete? Most people will assign the sharper edge image with Takete and the softer, rounded shaped image with Maluma.

Attempt to pair these two images with the appropriate name. Which image best represents the name Maluma? And, which image best represents the name Takete? Most people will assign the sharper edge image with Takete and the softer, rounded shaped image with Maluma.

3) Do your brand designs reflect the characteristics of your audience interests by the use of color psychology?  And, does your logo design visually translate the story about your brand? Furthermore, are you capitalizing on the power of Storytelling in your brand’s marketing?

Does your name have a story? The founders of the website Significantobjects.com, a site devoted to quantifying the bottom-line power of story at a product level, say, “Stories are such a powerful driver…that their effect on any given [product’s] subjective value can be measured objectively.” The website is home to an experiment that goes like this: the founders buy thrift store, garage sale, and flea market products, always cheap, no more than a couple dollars at most. Then, they hire a writer to compose a fictional story about the product, imbuing it with heritage, history, and ostensibly, value. The once-valueless products, accompanied by their new stories, are then sold auction-style on eBay. The difference between the original purchase price and story price is recorded as the objective value of that story.

The takeaway results for the first 100 products bought, storied, and then resold on eBay are poignant and telling. On average, the original product price was $1.29. But the average resale price after a story was added grew to a staggering $36.12. All in all, the experiment shows that even at a micro level, story can increase product value by a whopping 2,706 percent.

Would you purchase this 1996 Honda Accord for $150,000.00?

Would you purchase this 1996 Honda Accord for $150,000.00?

This 1996 Honda Accord reached a bid of $150, 000.00 through an online Ebay auction.  The seller created an experience-based commercial that had “story” which increased the value of the car’s worth.

Watch the video

5) Are you using a Consumer Journey framework in order to appropriately translate your messages to identified end-users and create advocates out of your marketing initiatives?

Making large purchases or major life changes can often trigger the brain’s pain receptors. How are you emotionally connecting with your audience at the point of purchase?

Making large purchases or major life changes can often trigger the brain’s pain receptors. How are you emotionally connecting with your audience at the point of purchase?

Understanding the Consumer Journey process and emotional connections

The Consumer Journey framework consists of seven stages that have been designed to help us understand the end-user’s journey as it relates to marketing and design initiatives.  This framework provides insight to end-user experiences and assists in developing creative concepts to be used in the brand development.  Each step of the framework should generate a specific message with the goal to move the audience from one step to the next.  Most businesses miss opportunities for connection by placing their entire message in the first step.  The brain does not want to process this type of information at this stage, it needs to be seduced into wanting to learn more about services and products.  The end goal is to create advocates from your target audience.

6) Have you incorporated Sensory Branding to enhance end-user experiences to make your brand more memorable in the minds of our audience?

According to the Buying Brain, our senses are taking in about 11 million bits of information every second. Most of that comes through our eyes, but all the other senses are contributing as well - hearing, touch, smell, taste, and spatial sensations. Our conscious brains,-that part of thinking in which we are aware of thinking-can only process, at best, 40 bits of information per second.

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Did you know you can minimize vandalism with the use of music:  Consider the fact that classical music has been found to deter vandalism, loitering, and even violent crime in parks, 7-Eleven parking lots, and subways. Figures released in 2006 showed that when classical music was piped over loudspeakers in high crime locations, robberies dropped by 33 percent, assaults on staff by 25 percent, and decreased vandalism of trains and stations.

Scent is the only one of the 5 senses that taps directly into the part of the brain responsible for emotion and memory; however, our sense of smell is hardwired to our emotions - 75% of our emotions are generated by what we smell.  In fact, you are 100 times more likely to remember something that you smell than something that you see, hear or touch. Have your incorporated scent and sound design into your marketing and design plan?

7) There is little time to capture your audience’s attention while online.  F-mapping layout for websites and understanding the activating the oxytocin in the brain through social media can increase your audience’s engagement. Are you employing these techniques to actively connect to your audience?

Millennials touch their smartphones 45 times a day and 5 out of 6 connect with companies on social media. Additionally, 51% will share information with companies in exchange for an incentive. Social media activity can also activate oxytocin in the brain which is commonly called “The Love Drug” giving users a boost in positivity.  For website use, people tend to spend less than 25 seconds on a homepage and traditionally use an F-mapping scan to evaluate, find and explore information.

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8) Is your interior design team practicing Experience-based design for your interiors and curb appeal to eliminate frustrations throughout every touchpoint of your brand?

The use of the color red can increase heartrate and anxiety and is not recommended for areas where you want guests to be calm and relaxed.  Blue is a color that can lower blood pressure and create a calming effect for guests.

Round tables are best used instead of desks when wanting to engage with your audience; additionally, glass top tables can easily become fingerprinted and create constant maintenance issues for staff. A solid round table with a solid flat surface is best for collaborations and engaging guests.  

Incorporating green spaces and can create more engaging and enjoyable spaces.  Plants and landscape themed or nature-based art can be beneficial in promoting health and wellness through biophilic design.  Biophilia is the human tendency to interact or seek connection with nature.  And, having a collection of artwork with images from all around the world can reflect the diversity within an organization.

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Remember, you’re not always selling a product or service. More often, you are selling a solution.  If you are a Leasing Agent for Multifamily housing or a Realtor you’ll be more memorable with your audience if you meet their emotional needs.  Consider people moving are more likely going through some life transition and your service should be designed to talk with them about how the property will help them better achieve their lifestyle needs.

9) Have you incorporated a Customer Experience Management process to properly translate the marketing and design initiatives to staff?

Customer Experience Management or CEM is the outcome of this growing realization by businesses that their customers receive some kind of experience, ranging from positive to negative, during the course of buying and consuming their goods or services. This experience is inevitable and occurs every time an organization interacts with a customer. The customer experience is the result of this “experiential journey”, which generates happiness and satisfaction along with a sense of being personally respected and cared-for.

A recent survey has found that 60 percent of Customer Experience Leaders gave a ‘touch-point’ only definition of Customer Experience Management. These ‘touch-points’ are the points of contact that the customer has with the business. These may vary from a phone call, an email, a visit to the store or a click on the website. They also include response to queries, delivery of the goods, after- sales service etc. In short it is the whole process or journey that a client has when interacting with the business.

If you answered NO to three or more of the above, your organization could increase ROC by incorporating the Experience-based Marketing and Design practices.


For more information on integrating Experience-based Marketing and Design for Multifamily Housing: Breaking the Mold of Conventional Design: A neuromarketing guide for multifamily developments

Contact us for a free consultation, evaluation and introduction to adopting XD Marketing/Design


[1] David Pink, A Whole New Mind:  Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future (Riverhead Books, 2006), 61.