I was recently out in L.A. to speak on a panel at the Association of Audience Marketing Professionals (AAMP)’s annual conference, where I had the privilege of sitting in on several other sessions. A key theme of the event was the question, “What is the customer experience?”
So, this got me thinking—are we too focused on channels (print, digital, social, in-person, etc.) and not overall experience? In my opinion, the answer is yes.
Let me start by posing a question. If you were to ask your readers about their experience with your brand, what would they say? Or, better yet—are you scared about what they wouldn’t say?
Too many companies focus on how to approach a distribution channel instead of focusing on the overall experience that will ultimately drive what is needed for each channel. Let’s use the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) as an example of a company that does a fantastic job of focusing on the experience rather than the channels.
In terms of mission, CMI is an education and training organization, teaching enterprise brands how to attract and retain customers through compelling, multi-channel storytelling. CMI makes it very clear, regardless of channels or audience level, that they will have something new and educational for their readers and consumers.
The experience is just that—advancing the practice of content marketing and finding something for every level of marketing.
Regardless of the channel used by CMI or their audience, the experience is the same. From there, the same messaging trickles down to CMI’s smaller channels—including print! For example:
- Content Marketing World – the organization’s largest in-person event
- CCO — a quarterly print magazine
- Strategic Consulting
Still not buying the whole idea of focusing on the experience and not just the channels? Let’s kick it up a notch with a few more out-of-the-box examples:
- Starbucks – Yes, they sell coffee, but it is all about the Starbucks experience. The aroma when you walk into their shops, the trendy feel of sitting and working on your laptop—you feel like one of the cool kids. You probably just paid $4.50 for a cup of coffee, but who cares? You are soaking in the experience! And they have been doing it for years…
- Red Bull – They are a media company that sells energy drinks. They have their readers on their fingertips with stunt after stunt in the extreme sporting world. The Red Bull experience, according to the company, is “Giving Wings to People and Ideas.” Whether you’re reading The Red Bulletin or watching a video of a new stunt or drinking the latest flavor of Red Bull, you are experiencing an uplifting experience that only Red Bull can provide. And they have been around for 31 years and span over 171 countries around the globe. Wow.
- Apple – They have the best products, right? That’s debatable (I use both PC’s and Macs) but what can’t be debated is the experience when you walk into an Apple Store. According to an article by Pamela Danziger in Forbes, there are three areas in which Apple Stores are superior when it comes to experience: a place to learn, a place to gather, and a place to share. Apple delivers on all three. No matter what product you buy from them, they will take the time to teach you how it works as well as some cool new tricks that the employees figure out along the way. Also, ever notice that their marketing messaging is about the people in the commercials (or the Apple experience) instead of why their product is better than the competition? They sell their experience.
So, let’s bring this all together. How does this help you and how can your company change?
- Talk with your editorial team – Ask them what they think the experience is with your brand. I bet you’ll be surprised on what you hear. If you are surprised, then you know you have a problem that needs to be solved ASAP.
- Be consistent – I can’t tell you the amount of times I have worked with clients and reviewed brands to find that their messaging is completely different in multiple areas. There needs to be consistency, or their will be confusion with readers, which in turn creates confusion with clients.
- Get everyone on board – This may seem drastic, but it’s necessary. If someone is a great worker but they don’t want to be apart of the brand’s messaging or experience, that can have a trickle-down effect. Get them on the bus or off the bus—this can truly be the difference on taking a company from “Good to Great.”
So I’ll ask once more: if you were to poll your readers about their experience with your brand, what would they say? If you’re afraid to ask, it’s time to get working.