A few months ago I was at a presentation by a marketing consultant. At the end he asked for everyone’s business card for a little experiment (what a great way to collect cards, I thought – duly noted). He then asked a volunteer to close their eyes and take the cards one at a time, and give feedback on what the feel of the card said about the owner.
Well, there were all sorts. Flimsy, cheap, worn out, lightweight – and I won’t say what she said about the cards! Of course, there were some she liked. Glossy finishes equated to ‘polished’, thick stock was associated with reliability and professionalism, and so on.
The point is, though, that these are cues that she only became conscious of because her eyes were shut. But they are there, subconsciously all the time.
Pick up one of your business cards now and close your eyes. Feel the thickness of it – does it feel solid and reliable? or flimsy and insubstantial? Does it say quality and investment in yourself? or cheap and not very serious about your business?
Experiential marketing fascinates me – the role of the customer’s experience as part of your brand. We often focus on the obvious when it comes to marketing: the visual elements of our brand like logos, letterheads and letterheads, the customer’s direct interaction with our business, whether it’s face-to-face or online.
We forget that the customer’s experience begins the moment they become aware of us, and it doesn’t finish when they walk out of the door or click away from our site. And that it extends to five senses. I’ll use my own brand as an example.
In my own case, many people have commented over the year that I have a very distinctive walk. I play on this mercilessly, and wear shoes with hard soles which will amplify the sound of my footsteps.
Is there a distinctive sound that goes with your brand? What does your answerphone message sound like?
For the smell, I always wear the same brand of aftershave, so that it has become part of my brand too. Using other people’s products as part fo your own brand is a great way of tapping into their marketing budget too – I’ve effectively co-opted Armani as part of my branding.
What about your own brand. Do you have a distinctive smell? Is it one people look forward to? Are you SURE???
For the visuals, I weave in a number of consistent elements. For instance I almost always wear something purple when I’m seeing clients. And if I’m not wearing a tie, I’ll have a wolf pendant round my neck which people remember because it’s unusual.
Again, is there a visual element about you (rather than your business cards) that you can use to anchor them in to your brand?
At this point you may be asking "so what?" Well the point is that each of these elements is an anchor. People like familiarity and consistency, it’s why we bother to read a book that we’ve already read, and why we tend to buy the same brand once we know it works for us. By keeping these sensory elements consistent I’m suggesting that everything else about me will be consistent, including the quality of my work.
Ah yes, I didn’t mention taste and feel. Well, I think some things are better left to our clients’ imagination, don’t you?!