These are by no means the only four or the last four or even the final four ever to be discussed. These are four fundamental attributes of good experiences. Make sure they are in the experiences you create. Forgive the co-opting of a familiar title but as we all know attention is hard to come by in this age of connected people and machines.
Human, not business model driven
Too often, especially in certain categories, what passes for experiential mapping is really nothing more than a document illustrating the perfect business model in action unencumbered by any of the realities a modern human may encounter. These human journeys travel efficiently over the right channels at the right time and transaction occurs. When building experiential models, identify and celebrate the idiosyncrasies of modern living. For example, working with a sporting goods company we defined two human paths, one for the youth influencer based on the most modern of social interaction and one based on the purchaser or parent that was more common. From there we could understand how to bring these two together at points for purchase.
Build using a narrative story theme
In developed markets, the scarcest commodity is not water or food, it’s someone’s attention. Brands will still exist. Companies or products need to understand their alignment within a market space. Yet, engagement today is related to what’s searched and what’s observed. It’s different and it’s story based. These are brand derivative stories, not positioning specific. In story, the highest order of storytelling is theme. In our company, we review observable data of story/content preference and ladder to theme. We advocate that brands foster co-participation between people and companies through shared narrative themes. Once we connected a theme for an NHL franchise to its fan base using a shared reference point, we were able to develop an entirely new pregame ritual these fans would connect with. Modern themes are really based on connection and participation, not differentiation and separation.
Account for context using probability
Within any mapping, we will never be 100% certain of how people will access a company’s stories and information unless we design only one access point. And providing only one door in the infinite choice of today will invariably ignore a group or groups of people who could become customers one day. Executing the opposite approach, being everywhere, is rarely if ever a cost-effective endeavor. This is where it’s best to think about observation from both analytical and anthropological points of view. Analytics can help with type of device and engagement habits. Anthropology can help with environment, mind set and adjacent behaviors. From this kind of work, one can derive not one device or activity but a set of probable devices, screen types and activities to build the right experiences, ideally connected using story and theme.
Build outward from experience linchpins
In any relationship between an organization and a person, there are certain experiences that simply must happen. And yes, while transaction may be the most critical measure, there are other moments in a human flow over time that need to happen so transactions can occur. This may be a moment, as it is for one of our outdoor sporting goods clients, where emotional inspiration turns to functional purchase planning. This migration to functional planning only happens if the right inspiration is achieved. It is a linchpin moment uncovered in research. In our work, we try to identify these moments and use them as a starting point because if this sequence doesn’t happen, the rest is clever but ultimately irrelevant. Once you’ve found that moment or sequence, you can build forward to transaction or backward to initial consideration and initiating awareness.
All of these attributes, human centric modeling, using narrative themes, accounting for context and building from linchpins, are meant to work together in customer experience planning. Getting these four correct provides the foundational contribution to specifying the right technology platforms and ultimately delivering on the business case.