Stop. Consciously focus on the words you’re reading. Allow these next few minutes to disrupt your daily routine and challenge yourself to make a memorable experience in reading this article. As individuals, it is terrifyingly simple to passively pursue a daily routine, dictated by tasks and cultural behaviors that we subconsciously adopt. Yet, as marketing experts, we are the face of innovation. We are the driving force behind counter-cultural influence and habit-shattering ideology. This trait is inherent in our DNA and we are uniquely assigned to be thought leaders rather than rule followers. Every day, we have the opportunity to develop a user experience that creates memories. “Companies that combine algorithms, an understanding of customer decision making, and the ability to use data will be the companies that succeed.” (John R. Hauser, Kirin Professor of Marketing at M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Management)
Creating a Memory
Let’s start with the fundamental question; what does it mean to create a memorable experience? Everything we do in life is an experience, no matter how meaningful or meaningless. Experiences happen all around us, yet the majority of experiences we encounter aren’t disruptive enough to create memories. Ultimately, a memory is an unforgettable experience that challenges us to behave or react differently. Think about some of the typical societal experiences that many of us encounter, in which our minds recall as memories; seeing your child walk for the first time, your first day at a new job, witnessing a stranger selflessly sacrifice something precious for a homeless person. More than likely, we encounter experiences such as these on a less drastic scale on a daily basis, but memories are created only when something outside our routine takes place and provokes us to consciously focus on the impact it has on our daily experiences.
See it Through Their Frame
Now understanding a bit more about what it means to create a memorable experience, it’s pivotal to understand how to identify with users and break their habits. As marketers, we tend to assume that our target audience fits into a categorical box. We define users by their race, gender, age, tastes, wealth status, etc. What we rarely address is identifying their core values and beliefs that make up their behavior. The reason this is such an unpopular methodology to assess when creating a user portrait is because of the level of difficulty in identifying these qualities in individuals. Market research? We might as well throw market research out the door. In controlled experiments, users exude the persona of themselves that they would like to be, rather than subconsciously delivering true behavioral data. The only way for brands to relate to their target audience and create memorable experiences is to engage with empathy. Every individual experiences the world through their own perspective or “frame”. Our job, as marketers, is to experience the world through our users’ frame in order to understand how to relate and ultimately, allow them to experience the world through our frame.
Cater to Their Behavior
Kevin Hart is the founder and CEO of Airvirtise; a user experience-focused, augmented reality medium that provides users infinite variability of rewards to existing environments. His entire business model revolves around building a platform for brands to constantly transform their traditional monotonous user experience into an experience of conscious variable behavior (the idea that a user is constantly led through the same process, but experiences different results every time). Kevin created Airvirtise after recognizing the incorrect marketing behavior of the terrible billboards we’ve all seen that read, “Does advertising work? Just did!” He explains “Good advertising must enable human engagement, human behavior, and provide an ROI of content. I built Airvirtise to solve these three fundamental issues when brands pursue engaging their users. We have over 70 different metrics that can be measured in real-time related to these three fundamental issues.” BJ Fogg’s Behavior Model explains that human behavior happens when motivation, ability, and a trigger converge. Think about this application in social media. My observation is that most of our social media strategies are designed to create relevant content that our users will share in order to grow our social presence, and hopefully lead conversions back to our brand. Following Fogg’s Behavioral Model, this is not enough motivation for users to behave and engage with your brand. This is what every other brand is doing to try to engage human behavior. Instead, what if the intention for our social content wasn’t to be relevant, but disruptively motivating? Most social users have enough motivation to follow you, but not enough to engage, ultimately they encounter an experience, but don’t create a memory. Let’s recall a memory that most of us know. Remember the blackout ofSuper Bowl 2013? Oreo quickly reacted to this disastrous event with a highly engaged audience and playfully and showed the Twitter world that, with Oreo, “You can still dunk in the dark.” Brilliant. The tweet went viral and the world remembers the time that Oreo created a piece of highly motivating content that saw the world through their frame. Kevin concluded by saying, “We wanted to create a tool that would not only enrich lives by creating new memories, but would completely disrupt the pattern of how we interact and view our world. We always tell marketers and brands alike, that if you create a truly compelling experience that engages your market on a human level, they will tell your story for you.”
Make it Happen
So how can we, as marketers, take our first step forward into creating an unforgettable experience with our users? The first step is to stop being strategically relevant and start being human. No matter what industry you’re in, rather than thinking of yourself as B2B or B2C, think of yourself as H2H (Human to Human). Every organization’s target audience is a human, not a business, not a consumer, but a human. Once we can identify ourselves, not as marketers, but as humans, and do the same with our audience, we’ve taken the first step towards connecting and engaging through empathy. The next step is to identify how to connect through behavior. Think about how Pinterest built their empire — all through understanding human behavior. They’ve given their users an infinite scrolling social platform of creative wonders that keeps users thoroughly engaged, recognizing that if they keep scrolling, they will eventually end up with a reward. Then they go back and keep scrolling. Sound oddly familiar to B.F. Skinner’s Reinforcement Theory? The third step is to get creative and transform user behavior into conscious variable behavior. Create content that disrupts their subconscious and rewards them for engaging with you.
In the end, you will have developed a relationship with your target audience, empathetically engaged in ways to properly serve them, and created platforms for them to behave positively with your brand and share the story with others. This is how to create an unforgettable experience.