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Humanizing the Total Customer Experience

There’s a running joke at our agency about the famed industry “ecosystem slide.” You know what I’m talking about - that one presentation slide that attempts to visualize how every single consumer touchpoint plays a unique role, yet connects with every other touchpoint to form a cohesive customer experience. Maybe it’s a Venn diagram. Maybe it’s a table. Or, my personal nightmare, the “Beautiful Mind” approach– a bunch of floating platform icons with a web of lines connecting them all in one tangled ball of confusion. “Look!” we say. “This is your brand ecosystem! See how beautifully and simply it depicts the total customer experience?” “OK, John Nash,” our clients say, before dropping it into a desktop folder to gather digital dust. As marketers, it’s important to consider ecosystems, journeys, and the end-to-end customer experience. But these concepts can be hard to truly grasp when talking about them in the abstract, or out of the context of how an individual person experiences a brand and its products. The reality is that in the digital age, our avenues of information are so diverse, our digital and physical spaces so entwined, that a customer journey is no longer linear or simple. At any given stage in the marketing funnel, a person might bounce around from Instagram, to billboard, to blog post, to text exchange and back in mere minutes. Even when this journey is simplified and beautifully designed to look at in aggregate, there’s a lack of realness to it– and a lack of true comprehension. So how do we start to truly understand what the modern customer experience looks like without making our heads explode? Let’s get out of the abstract. The AMP Strategy team is on a quest to humanize the total customer experience. Over the next several months, we’ll be doing first-person deep dives into the experience of shopping, purchasing, and returning across industries. We’ll map out real paths to purchase, identifying pain points and emotions along the way, to surface real industry insights and areas of opportunity– and share them right here on AMP’s blog. Because at the end of the day consumers are human, and we need to understand them as humans. The true customer experience cannot be captured on a slide. - Greer Pearce, VP of Strategy Meet Our Humans Greer Pearce, VP of Strategy Outdoorswoman, jazz singer, tween culture obsessive Ben Seldin, Strategy Director Nike addict, political junkie, wanna-be foodie. Elle Elderd, Associate Strategist Savory over sweet, mixer of drinks and vinyls, runs on espresso Jen Herbert, Senior Strategist Literary fiction addict, almond croissant enthusiast, frequently-disappointed Chicago Bears fan DJ Weidner, Strategy Director Backyard grilling fanatic, year-round iced latte connoisseur, occasional salmon and halibut fisherman James Herrera, Director, Experience Strategy Life-long LA Dodgers fan, believer in the beginner’s mind, finds reading science non-fiction oddly satisfying

And the Lineup Is...

If you're like me and have attended a music festival or two (hundred), then you've probably learned a few tips and tricks along the way ' like bringing rain boots to navigate the ensuing mud-slide after a slight drizzle or MacGuyvering a face-mask from a bandana to brave the sandstorm from a passing golf cart. As marketers gear up for this festival season's metaphorical mosh-pit of bands and brands, here are a few strategies to keep in mind. Why Music Festivals? According to a Brand Republic survey, 78% of consumers state that brand association with music is a good thing. Presence at a music festival creates a positive brand experience and memorable consumer interaction. As a venue for a young, attentive and social audience, it is no wonder why marketers continue to target these opportunities. Additionally, consumers are adapting to the presence of brands at festivals as they realize the value that they bring to the experience. While You're Here, Make Yourself Useful For an audience that has come to embrace the commercial counterparts at music festivals, static branding simply won't cut it. A brand's presence at a music festival should bring something useful, functional or necessary to attendees. Providing a service that ties back to the brand is one way to create a meaningful connection with the consumer. This can range from offering a VIP experience to fans or simply holding people's 'stuff'? as State Farm did at many of this year's events by supplying lockers to protect consumers' valuables while delivering a message of safety and security. Not All Festivals Are Created Equal It is important to keep in mind when planning your activation that consumers' needs can be contingent on a festivals location, layout or even lineup. Air conditioning and cold water for example, can take on new meaning after three days of camping in the hot summer sun but won't necessarily receive a standing ovation at an après ski-festival in the Rockies. More and more, marketers are letting consumers design, shape and control their interaction with the brand and sometimes even the festival itself as is the case with the ever-popular design contests to determine festival merchandise. The use of bespoke consumer takeaways from personalized kicks to self-designed tote bags and T's allows fans to create a souvenir as well as an experience that they love. Go 'Green'? or Go Home To engage an audience of today's festival-goers without a message of concern for the environment would be like belting out a 'play Freebird!'? at your next concert experience. As festivals become greener, marketers should follow their lead. Even if your brand isn't 'green,'? incorporating an earth-friendly festival footprint can be as simple as recycling items used within your space, ditching paper prints for a digital photo-activation or selecting eco-friendly items for consumer giveaways. One More Song! As with any good concert, there should be an opener and an encore. Marketers can leverage pre and post festival communication to increase brand visibility within the music space. As mentioned recently by MarketingWeek.com: 'Brands can use digital to engage with their target audience before, during and after the events to get the most out of their experiential activity.'? This is important not only to create an experience that resonates with consumers long after the event but also to reach the audience who may not have attended a music festival this year. So before you grab your Ray-Bans and head for the mainstage on this year's music festival circuit, be sure to plan accordingly. While just a few of many guidelines to keep in mind, following these steps in addition to setting clear goals will help ensure your brand gets an all-access pass for creating memorable consumer engagements that drive epic results. Rock On.

When Reality is Boring: Augment It!

It's election time which means, among hours of black and white negative campaign ads, it's time for CNN to go overboard with a new technology that adds little value to their reporting. In 2008, it was the Magic Wall that was amazingly spoofed on SNL. This year, their new toy was augmented reality. Now, we can't hate on A.R. ' we love it, we've blogged about it multiple times, and it has even become an office meme to yell out 'Augmented Reality'? in brainstorms without additional information behind it. But, the point of this post isn't to talk about our love (gosh, it really is cool) or hate for A.R., but more to discuss the use of new technology and marketing as a whole. Every year there always seems to be a new 'it'? tactic that brands want to employ. This is great, brands who are constantly pushing the next technology are better for it. However, many times it happens for the wrong reason. It's not because it's an effective vehicle to deliver a brand message, but rather because they saw a competitor use it, or they read an article about it and absolutely need it; NOW. As with anything; using it for the sake of using it without thinking about if it makes sense, or adds value to your consumers, is pointless. Seriously CNN, no one would think less of you if you simply showed a graph with an anchor voice-over. Was there any value added to your viewers by sticking your anchor behind a series of Tetris-like blocks? Absolutely not. So here's the learning. Push your brand, try new technology. When done right, it can create a great consumer experience and have a lasting effect on your brand. But understand that sometimes the best ideas are not simply based on the use of a new medium but come when we execute an older or traditional marketing channel really well, or in a way that no one has ever done.

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