Fundamental Pillars of Experience Marketing

by Adam Luckeroth, on Oct, 14, 2015

Experience marketing, or experiential marketing, allows companies to engage in real time with a no-push sales approach. Organizations can expand their reach and interact with prospects and customers directly who then have a chance to use all of their senses to appreciate the company’s product or service. This approach makes for a more memorable experience.


It's easier to recall something that you interacted with. Jay Gottfried, lead neuroscientist for a study about memory retrieval, said:

“That’s the beauty of our memory system. Imagine a nice day on the beach. The smell of sun lotion, the friends you were with, the beer you were drinking; any of these could trigger memories of the whole thing.”

Subjecting participants to images and typically unassociated smells, they associated the image to the smell even when the smell was not present. Gottfried’s study only makes use of two senses in a controlled experiment. Organizations can engage individuals at additional points with imaginative campaign strategies. You get to decide on the triggers.

Experiential marketing lets companies get inside consumer’s heads and build subconscious connections to the brand and event itself. Implement and improve on experiential marketing outreach to build connections with prospects and customers on multiple fronts.

What is Experience Marketing?

Is experience marketing right for your organization? What can it do to help your product get noticed by your target audience? Advertising Age defines experience or experiential marketing as:

“Messaging you can touch, feel or view in a physical space.”

Its intent is to get target customers engaging with the brand. For example, jumping 10 feet for a pair of Adidas shoes and meeting a legendary basketball star, singing Karaoke and having it broadcasted in Times Square or interacting with personalized content on a tablet. These activities require participants to touch or handle the product or brand in a memorable way.

[Tweet "More marketers are looking to expand their experience marketing"]

More marketers are looking to expand their experience marketing within their mixed marketing. The Event Marketing Institute’s Event Track study reports that marketers spent about 4.7 percent more in 2013 on event and experiential marketing. Jeff Benjamin, chief creative officer, JWT North America, says:

“Experiential is what brands do in the world that get people ‘participating.’”

It appears that the anti-smoking “Truth” campaigns spurred companies to want to create a similar buzz for themselves. Videos of the stunts and users reactions engage viewers and gain viral recognition.

Coke Zero’s experiential marketing effort in 2012, "Unlock the 007 In You" to promote Coke Zero and play off of the new James’ Bond movie, challenged unsuspecting train passengers to perform various tasks while overcoming obstacles in Central Station of Antwerp in Belgium. Participants were awarded tickets to the movie Skyfall.


Not only does experiential marketing get individuals to interact with the brand but it provides an opportunity to show real people interacting with products to others via social media or television.

In What Every Marketer Should Know about the Customer Journey, I talked about improving access that consumers have to information. With buyers wanting to figure things out for themselves, the ability to get hands-on experience with a product provides them with additional information that written features, benefits or reviews would miss.

Align Objectives, Strategies and Tactics

Sony is big on alignment of objectives and tactics, such as sponsorship, with their overall marketing strategy. Inside Sony’s Experiential Marketing Strategy offers a few insights about how this consumer electrics giant planned to incorporate and align experiential marketing within their promotion of the Sony Action Cam and hero products. Sony does not invest in efforts that do not connect to their plan. Brad Thorson, Sony Electronics’ head of experiential marketing, said:

“Experiential marketing as a share of Sony’s total marketing dollars has increased, but it doesn’t make much sense to invest in sponsorships that don’t align with our overall marketing strategy.”

The Sony events strategy organically integrates products to enhance the consumer experience. Film festivals, sporting events and lifestyle properties all provide an opportunity for people to talk about and engage with the product in unusual environments.

Their improvements in the sponsorship strategy include:

  • Additional focus on measurement
  • Emphasis on natural engagement rather than purchased engagement

They have succeeded as they continue to tailor their strategy to meet the consumer entertainment experience. The Lollapalooza music festival drew quadruple its usual attendance to the Sony display space with more than a 20 percent reduction in investment.

Your organization's experience marketing initiatives should meet the objectives of your marketing plan and implement measurements so that over time you can hone your efforts and deliver the best ROI. If you are following suit and increasing experience marketing spend, you ought to know whether efforts deliver as expected. Remember to:

  • Align business objectives with consumer objectives
  • Gather and use appropriate marketing methods and resources
  • Use a monitoring system to provide feedback to your organization

Enterprise Operations by Graham Cook, discusses these objectives and how they pertain to different roles within an enterprise organization, linking them to experiential marketing practices. Experience marketing should be held to the same scrutiny and coordination with your overall marketing plan as traditional efforts.

Modus, for example, provides a platform for interaction with prospects and customers where each action is tracked and reported to the analytics dashboard.

Collect and Connect Data for a Single View of the Customer (Single Source of Truth)

It may be time to put all of your eggs in one basket. Now that we can combine real data about customers online activities and from the in-person sales call, we have tailored information to address a single person’s individual concerns and needs. This information is far more nuanced than a set persona and helps to create real value for the customer. That's Contact-based Marketing.

Shawn Burns, SVP of digital marketing for Schneider Electric, believes that growth has to do with identity management and generating one-to-one relationships with customers at scale. Burns supports this belief in the single source of truth, bringing together customer data files in a single source that the entire organization can access. He states:

“Once you’re able to digitize the customer relationship- and know who you’re talking to, and personalize who you’re talking to- you can massively accelerate the way they buy products from you as you’re chasing growth.”

The collection and consolidation of all of these pieces of information on a customer is necessary, and it presents one of the biggest challenges for marketers today. According to Andrew Jones, 96% of marketers say that they are challenged when trying to build a comprehensive view of customers. Marketers and companies are looking for more than the basic demographics and the purchase history but want to be able to paint an individual picture of each customer.

What is the best way to approach creating a single view of the customer?

That depends. Chris Murphy at InformationWeek discusses an approach as it relates to operating data. This approach can be used with customers as well. An agreed-upon system, while imperfect, can be implemented, forcing the company to buy-in and add to customer profiles.

Proctor & Gamble did this with their executives down to their tens of thousands of employees so that everyone could analyze the information on hand. Proctor & Gamble’s CIO, Filippo Passerini, didn’t hesitate to do this, even when the data wasn’t complete or perfectly scrubbed. Passerini, InformationWeek’s 2010 Chief of the Year, stated,

“We intentionally put the cart before the horse, because it is a way to force change.”

Identity resolution and a single view of the customer data includes:

  • The names that the customer uses, professionally and personally
  • The breakdown of any affiliated companies and the customer’s role in each
  • Common themes in several accounts that are operated by a single beneficiary
  • The ability to add critical reports to individual profiles that are unusual or time-sensitive
  • Correction of outdated or incorrect information
  • Consolidated information available to all users simultaneously
  • Customer communication history with sales reps, support and more
  • Pertinent concerns identified from communications

All of these elements and more should be updated as needed. 74% of surveyed UK consumers said that they would respond positively to companies who ‘understand them' according to Experian.

Consumers are individuals and (obviously) want to be seen that way. Data should evolve with their changing needs and preferences. Change is simply the nature of the beast.

With improved data collection on each individual, marketing and sales will be able to move customers rapidly through the relevant sales funnels. The point is to use the data gleaned to make critical, intelligent decisions to build relationships with customers and advance sales.

Support the Customers’ Needs with Real Time Contextualized Experiences

Experience Marketing is more than what happens when prospects are out playing with new toys at events. It truly becomes about valuing every experience that an organization has with its customer. Vikram Bhaskaran's Harvard Business Review article, The Customer Support Hierarchy of Needs, points to not the choice but the absolute mandate that exceptional customer experiences become your new status quo. This can be difficult for companies to implement when more fundamental organizational needs have not been met.


According to HBR’s infographic, organizations need to provide great service and solve issues before customers experience a problem, but too often are stuck in a reactive mode and putting out fires rather than being proactive and creating better processes. Gathering data from contextualized customer experiences can shape not only an individual customer experience but a process as a whole.

We have individualized teaching where every child is treated as if they have their own I.E.P. (Individualized Educational Profile), setting out their goals and objectives for the school year. We do not expect all children to learn the same or have the same needs. Why then would we expect all adults to have the same needs, expectations or understanding of how a company, product or service can meet their individual goals?

A scalable system that can take in important data, not currently collected from customer interactions, would prove to be of real benefit to develop a better understanding of those served. Organizations need to move into proactively helping customers get the information and assistance that they require. This means implementing an organized process that can be used to uniquely address each customer.

Is your company invested in gathering real data from customer interactions to inform your next steps? Customers want to do business with companies that care about them. How does your organization plan to earn their loyalty?

Experiential marketing is not a gimmick. The approach gets to the fundamental hardwiring in a prospect’s brain with the potential of building stronger memory recall. Sony would not keep at it, improving their process, if it did not produce results for them.

Experience marketing allows marketing departments to capture feedback from participants for company analysis. We talk about getting more data from each customer experience, and Modus supports the collection of additional streams of data for a more holistic view of the customer. How are you harnessing the potential of experiential marketing within your marketing mix?

Share your insights below or tweet us @modusengagement.

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