Bernd Schmitt: 10 Rules for Successful Experiential Marketing

Strategy, Branding, Marketing

Strategy, Branding, Marketing

Columbia University’s Bernd Schmitt details five different types of experiences in experiential marketing —sense, feel, think, act, and relate — and states that they are becoming increasingly vital to consumers’ perceptions of brands. In addition Schmitt has set forth 10 rules for sucessful experiential marketing.

Schmitt’s 10 rules for successful experiential marketing:

  1. Experiences don’t just happen; they need to be planned. In that planning process, be creative; use surprise, intrigue, and, at times, provocation. Shake things up.
  2. Think about the customer experience first—and then about the functional features and benefits of your brand.
  3. Be obsessive about the details of the experience. Traditional satisfaction models are missing the sensory, gut-feel, brain blasting, all-body, all-feeling, all-mind “EJ” experience. (EJ =Exultate Jubilate.) Let the customer delight in exultant jubilation.
  4. Find the “duck” for your brand. More than five years ago, I stayed for the first time in the Conrad Hotel in Hong Kong. In the bathroom on the rim of the bathtub they had placed a bright yellow rubber duck with a red mouth. I fell in love with the idea (and the duck)immediately. It’s the one thing that I always remember when I think about the hotel and it becomes the starting point of remembering the entire hotel experience. Every company needs to have a duck for its brand. That is, a little element that triggers, frames, summarizes, stylizes the experience.
  5. Think consumption situation, not product, e.g., “grooming in the bathroom” not “razor”; “casual meal” not “hot dog”; and “travel” not “transportation.” Move along the sociocultural dimension.
  6. Strive for “holistic experiences” that dazzle the senses, appeal to the heart, challenge the intellect, are relevant to people’s lifestyles, and provide relational, i.e., social identity, appeal.
  7. Profile and track experiential impact with the “Experiential Grid.” Profile different types of experiences (Sense, Feel, Think, Act, and Relate) across experience providers (logos, ads, packaging, advertising, Web sites, etc.).
  8. Use methodologies eclectically. Some methods may be quantitative (questionnaire analyses or logit); others qualitative (a day in the life of the customer). Some may be verbal (focus group); others visual (digital camera techniques). Some may be conducted in artificial lab settings; others in pubs or cafes. Anything goes! Be explorative and creative, and worry about reliability, validity, and methodological sophistication later.
  9. Consider how the experience changes when extending the brand—into new categories, onto the Web, around the globe. Ask yourself how the brand could be leveraged in a new category, in an electronic medium, in a different culture through experiential strategies.
  10. Add dynamism and “Dionysianism” to your company and brand. Most organization and brand owners are too timid, too slow, and too bureaucratic. The term “Dionysian” is associated with the ecstatic, the passionate, the creative. Let this spirit breathe in your organization, and watch how things change.

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