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What if Everytime We Used the Word “AD We Changed it to “Experience”?

How can we change the way we interpret advertisements? If we begin to approach creating experiences rather than ads, we might just be more effective in the way we talk to our audience.

On Thanksgiving morning this year, I was sitting down with my wife watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. As we were watching the TV, a Verizon commercial came on. The details and content of the commercial are not as important, but the premise and, most importantly, the way I felt while watching the commercial is imprinted on my mind. 

The main point of the  commercial was to show the importance of connecting with people, whether it’s your family, friends, coworkers, and even acquaintances. This commercial not only had our undivided attention but by the end of the commercial, my wife was in tears.

Our emotions were moved by this experience.

As I reflect about my Thanksgiving, I thought about the Verizon commercial, and how it relates to marketing. People are influenced when emotions are invoked.

It’s so easy to forget this! It’s not about what you say or how you say it, but it’s about using the “who, what, where, when, why, and how” to design an effective experience. When you use these questions to design an experience, it can truly influence a buyer’s emotions.

What would happen if marketers focused more on invoking emotions, rather than just creating advertisements?

Or better yet, what if marketers completely removed the word “advertisement” from their vocabulary, and replaced it with “Experience?”

  • “Check out this new TV experience for our customers”!
  • “How is the Facebook experience coming along”?
  • “How Is Our Search Engine Experience Campaign Performing”?

This isn’t a new idea. This is fundamental to basic marketing. The greatest marketing leaders have said this for the past century. The question is, why do we continue to see bad advertising experiences?



Based on my personal experience working in marketing and conversations with marketers, many of them say they understand the importance but are spread too thin with time and/or money. They feel they have to consistently create content for blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, Snapchat, Search Engines, traditional media, digital media….the list goes on and on.

I believe if marketers don’t slow down and think through who their buyers are, and what emotions to invoke when they experience your product, they will be left in the dust by their competitors. Again, this information is not new. It is a principle. It is fact.

We are seeing the advertising industry struggle more now than ever before:

The reasons for changing the ineffective advertising strategies go on and on…..

At the surface, it would appear that advertising as a whole is becoming less and less effective. This is not true. an emotional response has always been the premise of effective advertising and influence, and it still works today.

65% of U.S. consumers report a digital experience changing their perception about a brand, either positive or negative, and almost the entire group said the experience influenced whether or not they went on to purchase their products.

We know many digital companies, such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook, understand the importance of experience, but what about more traditionally-minded marketers who weren’t born digital? Can they succeed in an experience-driven world? The answer is “yes”.

Marketing certainly isn’t what it used to be. It’s really easy to point the finger at advertising, but maybe we should consider that the 77% of U.S. consumers who don’t trust businesses have proven they are more receptive to a “brand experience”.Advertisements aren’t necessarily failing, but the industry is changing every day. Change is a good thing, and we need to embrace it. A brand experience outweighs the effectiveness of advertising by providing a personal, and emotional experience that the consumer can relate to.

But how does an advertising team create an “experience”?

1) Form a connection with the audience

This is the most important step. Without a connection to your audience, there will be no “experience” to speak of. Get to know your market and find out how you can best serve them. If you can tap into what your audience wants to see and connect with them on a personal and emotional level, everything gets a lot easier.

2) Know your strengths

With anything in life, it’s really important to know what you’re good at. But it’s probably even more important to know your weaknesses and use these weaknesses to further reinforce what your strengths are. If your company has a really strong avenue for social media, then pour into that. If you have creative people who are great with video production, get those cameras rolling. But if you find something doesn’t work, there’s no need to waste the time and energy.

3) Tell a story

The formation of your company may very well be a fascinating story, complete with an underdog arc and maybe even an antagonist. Also, it may not be. It’s perfectly ok. Either way, use it. Your story is your own, and no one can take that from you. But you need to tell it with interesting, concise writing. Hiring good writers is great, but hiring storytellers is even better. Developing a blog is a great way to provide the story of your company, thoughts on your particular industry or even testimonials from your many happy customers.

4) Offer unique experiences

Have you set yourself apart from your competition? Sometimes a memorable experience is simply different than anything else out there. Implement a new strategy that tries something unique to your brand, something that will turn heads and perk ears. Embrace the weird and go with it.


5) Implement “social employees”

A really interesting way to create a personal experience for your audience is to use your own employees to brag about your company. Implementing your staff as social employees will not only generate a healthy of employee advocacy for your team, but it will also greatly increase your brand awareness to potentially untouched markets. Using your team’s social media accounts, you can reach their friends and family who might be looking for the very services you offer. Considering the fact that consumers trust their peers opinions online more than traditional advertising, this might be a new go-to option for bringing in new customers.


Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon said “We are not great advertisers. So we start with customers, figure out what they want, and figure out how to get it to them.”

Here are a few questions to get started:

  • Start with “Who are my buyers?”.
  • What do my buyers want?
  • What feeling do I want to invoke in our buyers?
  • What stories will best communicate the feeling?
  • How will I invoke this feeling?
  • How should I tell the story?
  • When is the best time to invoke this feeling?
  • Where is the best place to invoke this feeling?
  • Why is invoking this feeling important to our company meeting our business/marketing objectives?

The key to creating incredible customer experiences is to start by understanding your customer, figure out what they want, and figure out how to give it to them.

Don’t create ads. Create experiences.


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