EXPERIENTIAL

WHAT ARE YOU REALLY SELLING?

Human beings have an attention span that is one second less than your average goldfish’s. In today’s interconnected and digital world, consumers are under a constant barrage of advertisements. Sometimes, they don’t even realize that what they are seeing is an ad, especially if it's carefully disguised as a narrative blog post. So, what can you do to increase your sales, and turn cold or warm leads into paying, loyal customers?
 
First off, you must know what you're selling, and it’s not the features you’re selling, but the benefits of your offering and why your brand exists to add value. For instance...

Starbucks does not sell coffee that comes in any flavor you could want. Starbucks sells a community. And what are the benefits of a community? It fosters connection, camaraderie, and the benefit of being seen and heard as part of a group of like-minded coffee-lovers.
 
Disney does not sell entertainment. They sell magic and unforgettable experiences. Sure, they sell movies and toys to entertain. But so do thousands of other companies. What is it that makes Disney’s toys and movies so special? The brand is positioned to sell magic and enable customers to create new, cherished memories with their loved ones.
 
So, what is it that you’re selling?
Factual statements don’t compel someone to buy. The benefits do. Why does your product exist, and what value does its existence add to the customer’s experience?
 
It’s the customer’s emotions that drive them to make a purchase. While listing factual information is important so the customer knows how the product or service operates, that’s not what gets them to convert.
 
What are some examples of features versus benefits?
You want to communicate to your audience what the more profound, emotional benefits are that you’re selling, and position your brand to connect with them through those benefits, for example:

  • Accessibility vs 24-hour limo service 

  • Convenience vs One-click buy 

  • Trustworthiness vs Doing business since 1950

Once you understand what the benefits are, you can begin to craft content around those benefits that utilize a narrative structure that hits those emotional notes for your target audience. The latest and the most fabulous features don’t mean much to your customer unless those features translate into benefits that bring them a specific value. What you’re selling needs to answer these vital questions for the customer:

  • What’s in it for me?

  • Will this improve my current situation?

  • Will the product or service make me happier, healthier, smarter, or richer?

Understanding your target audience’s demographics can certainly help you figure out what your offering’s most relevant features are that you want to list. However, knowing the psychographics of your customer, as in what motivates them or what gives them value, can help you position your brand’s benefits and the reason why it exists to serve the customer. Doing this will enable you to move whatever product or service it is that you’re selling.
 
For better conversions and increased customer loyalty, know exactly what you’re selling, and communicate how it benefits your target customer on an emotional level.

The end.

3 REASONS WHY BEING REAL HAS NEVER BEEN MORE STYLISH

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In a world where the lines between reality are becoming increasingly blurred, consumers are demanding more authentic and genuine products and marketing strategies from businesses. Entrepreneurs and marketers are becoming savvier when it comes to positioning their products as real and honest, from the way they are manufactured to the ingredients or materials they are made out of, and finally, to the way those products and services are marketed.
 
Information in today’s world is democratized, and it’s now easier than ever before for consumers to thoroughly research a product before they hit the “buy” button. Before, it was all too easy for less ethical businesses to use questionable ingredients, materials, or manufacturing processes to bring their products to market. With consumers demanding more transparency, their tastes are drastically changing.
 
Brands that have tapped into consumers’ need for real and honest products and marketing have managed to position themselves as industry heavyweights, such as Honest Tea and RXBar. In today’s business climate, being real and honest has never been more stylish. And with the rise of social media and user-generated content, honesty in business is here to stay. Here are three compelling reasons why:
 

1. Authenticity Matters

Recent surveys have found that up to 86% of all consumers claim that brand authenticity is an important factor in which companies they choose to support. The findings were even more stark depending on the age of the survey participant.
 
90% of Millennial consumers say brand authenticity is essential. This generational cohort now commands more than 200 billion dollars in annual spending power. But, they're often cited as the demographic least likely to be engaged with brands.
 
As the consumer market ages and younger and younger people start participating in the economy, brands need to stay competitive with real and organic positioning, instead of coming off as polished and packaged.
 

2. Modern consumers consider user-generated content the most authentic.

Everyone with an internet connection has access to social media, where they can express their thoughts, feelings, and share their lives with friends and strangers alike. Surveys show that consumers find written and visual content created by average, everyday people on social networks the most genuine or authentic. 70% of millennials claim that social media content from their friends and family have the most impact on their purchasing decisions, versus only 23% of celebrity influencers.
 

3. Authenticity can’t be faked.

Not only do consumers want more authentic content from brands, but they are also savvier at discerning brand-generated content. 70% of consumers can distinguish between content that is user-generated and content that brands have cultivated strictly for marketing purposes. 20% of all consumers have unfollowed a brand on social media because they thought their content was inauthentic.
 
The drive for real, honest products and marketing in the consumer market is being driven by a need for things that are timeless, and long-lasting. Being real, genuine, and honest with your brand positioning and storytelling will help your business maintain a competitive edge in today’s climate.

So, did you like this blog? Honestly?

Will AI Ever Be Capable of Creativity?

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The robots are coming. They’re coming for your jobs. But fortunately, not all of your jobs. While it’s true that automation is taking over specific tasks at a terrifying pace, there is a glass ceiling for AI, and no, they can’t break it.

So, what jobs are safe from the massive influx of robot workers?  Creative jobs that require empathy. In fact, it’s safe to say that AI will never be capable of creativity. Creativity requires a soul, which a machine will never have.

Can AI corner the creative market?

No. But, and this is the good news; AI will make creative types more productive. How so? Take a look at programs like Grammarly and Scrivener. These programs have helped millions of writers plan, plot, and edit their work.

Recently, Google’s AI division developed a machine that was programmed to learn from its opponent. The machine could run more possible chess board scenarios than there are atoms in the universe. Pretty impressive. The machine played a best-of-five round of chess against world champion Lee Sedol. Sedol won the first round. But, the machine quickly learned and bested him in the remaining four games.

While a robot can measure ingredients for a cake. A robot cannot create a new recipe that tastes good. A robot cannot build something, paint something, or otherwise create art. Art resonates from the soul. Anything that involves memorization or diagnostics is ripe picking for the robot workforce. But if the task requires empathy to do well and right, it’s out of their purview. For example, a robot could take over a surgeon’s job. It can’t take over a nurse’s. A robot can vacuum your carpet. It can’t pick out and design an interior that’s cozy and pleasing to you.

While AI may be faster than people and can retain and cross-reference facts better than a human, it only operates in binary form. The situation for AI is either win or lose. It is either right or wrong. Black or white. AI cannot discern shades of grey. Human beings, as creative creatures, operate in a constant state of shifting perspectives and emotions. Creative pursuits, which most jobs are, require you to see things through multiple, empathic lenses. It comes down to passion and emotion. And humans engage with each other on an emotional level that AI will never be able to duplicate.

So good luck to us (and them). My money is on us! (But if we're gambling then the robots will likely be able to figure out the mathematical chances of that better. ;)  

WHY CONSUMERS CRAVE REAL CONNECTIONS

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Imagine a tool so powerful that it could yield results faster than any other traditional marketing tactic. Not only would you be able to cut through the clutter and reach out to your audience, but also engage and get a reaction from them.

Enter the world of experiential marketing.

In today’s overly connected world, the amount of messaging we receive on every digital channel is staggering. Studies show that consumers see about 4,000 ads every day. On top of that, brands also have to compete with their audience’s social networks, friends, emails, text messages, and so on. With this amount of noise, there’s no wonder that consumers have raised the bar and become selective about the content they engage with.

Creating a Bond with Your Audience

Digital marketing has made it easier for brands to reach out to and engage a wide audience. However, most of the messages received through these channels don’t stick in the consumer’s mind. Just think about it: you can probably remember the content of a billboard you saw a few days ago on your way to work, but you can’t tell what the ad on the website you visited ten minutes ago was about.

Although we live most of our lives in the digital world, we still crave real connections. That’s why we go to concerts, attend events or watch sports competitions. The emotion and excitement of these experiences make us feel closer to our peers and, by extension, to the brands that happen to initiate them. Even when it comes to simple things, such as watching a horror movie, studies show that consumers feel a great attachment to the brands nearest to them when they’re scared or along (interesting, huh?).

The beauty of experiential marketing is that it allows you to spark powerful emotions and build a lasting connection with your audience that could transform into brand loyalty. And, it makes sense if you think about it: prospects are more likely to engage with your brand and mention it to their friends and family if you provide a unique and immersive experience than if you were to reach out to them with a standard online ad or sponsored post. We’re not talking about PR stunts here, but experiences that engage your audience and make them excited to share it with their network. Think about IKEA’s slumber partyRefinery29’s 29Rooms events or Red Bull’s jump from space.

Blending Digital & Experiential

You don’t have to burn a hole through your marketing budget to offer engaging brand experiences. Today’s technology has made it easier for brands to augment their digital marketing efforts and increase brand loyalty. With a VR headset, for example, you can enable prospects to see how it would be if they would use your products or services. If you’re a travel agency, you could use virtual reality technology to show prospects how the hotel room would look like or what they can expect to see when they reach their destination. These experiences engage all five senses, empower the consumer, and make them more excited about your offer than traditional tactics.

In Conclusion

You could have advanced tools that measure every possible metric, from impressions to click-through rates – and, that’s all good and necessary. But, the smile you manage to put on a prospect’s face is priceless. And, that’s where experiential marketing can make the difference and help you build a powerful bond.