Experience Marketing is Social Media of the Deepest Reward

We know about the power of online social media to connect people of mutual interests and passions with each other to exchange ideas, innovate, and celebrate... creating a type of consumer value that, when it's done well, builds communities, brings people closer to brands, and drives sales. Got it. Love it. Use it.

Experience marketing, meaning all early types of face to face engagement from conferences and trade shows to  entertainment and sports marketing, proved the core value of doing this ages before the online version of social was a gleam in anyone's eye. Experience marketing is the original social media, and continues to provide power, especially in the contemporary form which retains the types of the past just mentioned but adds to it types such as Pop Up, user-generated, and virtual/in-person hybrid, to name a few.

Experience marketing then, since by definition a form of communication, is a form of media. Experience is media. But it's a specific type of media. It's media that drives participation and delivers rewards in the deepest ways possible. The act of consuming experience marketing is actually participation. It's participation in the brand. It is satisfying to consumers in that the participants get the opportunity to freely try on aspects of brands emotionally and psychologically. They get to imaginarily experience how their lives can be improved by the brand if it is new to their lives as in the case of demand generation marketing, or how it can be further improved by going deeper with the brand if the participant is already in the fold as in the case of marketing designed for retention and loyalty deepening.

When done really well, experience marketing persuades consumers by offering an experience that brings tantalizingly close a vision of a person's changed self-estimate. As their participation in the brand helps them experience a vision of their improved lives, the brand becomes a part of consumers selves they don't want to live without. When I choose to participate in a brand (its offerings, its community, its values) all at once I'm adding value to my life, but also to my sense of self because the way I measure myself is in many ways the result of how I measure the choices I make and their consequences. Which means it alters my self-esteem, good or bad.

If the brand choice in the aspirational stage seems to be a good one and turns out to be so in reality, it enhances my self-esteem. In some way, either small or large, it makes me a bigger hero in my own story, and we're reluctant to let go of things so fundamentally (psychically) rewarding. 30 second commercials have often attempted to cause this effect but the limitations of time and distance are hard to transcend. Experience marketing, with it's face-to-face, often in-person, multi-sensory, user-directed, and time extended form is the one that puts at the marketer's disposal all the conditions and elements necessary to make this vision of self-enhancement happen most powerfully. Experience marketing is social media of the deepest reward.

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