February 14th, 2018
by Meagan Williams, Stevens Advertising, Production Lead/Account Executive
Think about your favorite brand. What draws you to them?
Why is that brand top of mind? One of my favorite companies is Campbell’s. Now, while one of the reasons I buy Campbell’s soups is for their delicious flavor, that isn’t why they’re one of my favorite brands. I love Campbell’s, and many other brands, because of the emotional connections I have with them.
Campbell’s commercials intentionally tug at the heartstrings. They incorporate every sense in their commercials; delicious looking soup, warm steam coming off of the bowl, calm music, and an “mmm” at the taste of it. Campbell’s is a Lovemark brand; it’s irreplaceable, their packaging is an icon of art, and people are loyal beyond reason. Because of this, when I think about Campbell’s, I don’t think about the variety of flavors they offer or nutritional value in their soups. I think of the memories I have while eating it, I think of what they value as a company, and I think of how they communicate with me.
Campbell’s does a great job of marketing customer experience and not features, just like most successful companies do: Apple, Nike, Disney, Target, Airbnb, etc.
Selling the Brand Experience
These brands make emotional connections with their audiences. At times, people are loyal to brands before even trying out their products or services because they have already connected with them on a different level. So what is customer experience and why is it so important?
According to Forbes, customer experience is the “cumulative impact of multiple touchpoints” over the course of a customer’s interaction with an organization. The interaction can be direct or indirect, but they both have an effect on how the consumer responds to the brand. Both experience marketing and feature marketing are indirect interactions with brands. Both types of marketing should influence the consumer’s decision on how they interact with your brand, but which makes the best impact?
Feature VS. Benefit
Let’s break down the differences between the two.
If you’re selling a product or service based on what it is or has, that’s feature marketing. Feature marketing can be successful and a lot of companies do it. Unlimited data, 4-wheel drive, all organic ingredients, 3,000 square feet are all examples of what could be included in feature marketing.
Feature marketing tells you what to expect from the product or service and it asks the consumer to infer the benefit of using your brand. Using an unlimited data plan as an example, one could infer that they won’t get overage charges. Or one could assume that the monthly cost would be higher than if they kept their current plan and paid the overages. You leave it open to the interpretation of your user. Sometimes the benefit they infer doesn’t make a lasting impact or it doesn’t differentiate you from your competitors. When selling features, you must have a unique set of features or you must already have a strong reputation in order to be differentiating.
In most cases, features can be very similar to competitors and in those cases, how do you make sure your brand stands out? How do you ensure repeat or loyal consumers? That’s much more difficult to achieve with a feature marketing campaign than with a good experience marketing campaign.
Experience marketing tells what you can do or accomplish with the product or service. It tells the story of the perceived value, benefit, or advantage of choosing your brand. It lets the consumer know what’s in it for them. With experience marketing, you should implement benefit segmentation in order to best make a connection with your audience. For example, the benefit of buying a pass to national parks can be vastly different depending on the audience. To a family, the benefit may be getting to spend time together or the benefit to a single hiker may be to explore somewhere new. In these examples, a brand can build a relationship by showing that they care about family time and making meaningful connections, or that they value adventure and exploring the outdoors. Both would help build a relationship with the respective audiences. It would help connect the brand with some of the emotions the consumer has when thinking of or using that brand. When a connection is made between the brand and the consumer, they are more likely to purchase again, recommend to a friend, or become loyalists.
Experience marketing also builds authenticity. Building relationships and connections humanizes the brand to an extent, but you must be strategic and intentional in your segmentations and messaging in order to receive the perceptions you’re seeking. And, your brand must live up to the expectations you’ve promised, or you risk losing their loyalty.
So, make a list of your features, determine the benefits, outline your target audiences, choose your mediums, understand your brand and your story, and connect with your audience.
Authored by: Meagan Williams, Stevens Advertising, Production Lead/Account Executive