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Marketing An Experience: Finding Value in Fun

116 & West

Our economy moves through the buying and selling of, well, stuff and things. Sometimes, those things are tangible—shoes, clothes, a carpet that really ties the room together—and are something a person can see and touch. Other times, those things are intangible. Examples include cleaning services, Uber, and (ahem) advertising agencies. There are various subsets of intangibles, one of which is an experience.

Some companies, such as adventure parks, movie theaters, and sports arenas have the great (and fun) challenge of selling an “experience.” When those types of businesses hire us to help them, we get pretty excited because it’s such a unique challenge.

The Value of an Experience

One of the things we talk to our clients about is creating a sense of value. Now, this isn’t unique to clients who own sports arenas. Every business, no matter what they’re selling, needs to create value for their customers. What’s neat about experiences, however, is that the value isn’t the same for each person. That means we can help identify how those values might differ, and what type of person might find the various aspects of that experience valuable.

Let’s take a hockey team for example. They want to sell tickets (tangible product) to their games, but what they’re selling isn’t really tickets. It’s the experience of being at the game.

“For one person, the value might be in watching the puck, the excitement of the athletes doing their thing. For another person, the value might be in rooting for their team and being happy when they win,” says our CEO and Founder Edward Moore.

“For the vast majority of people, though,” says Edward, “the value is in the roar of the crowd, the smell, the music, the clapping. It’s in seeing their friends, eating the pretzel, and watching the action. It’s in the dinner beforehand and the drinks after.”

Our job for our clients is to make people think about that experience when they see advertisements. We also think about ways to help our clients reach their audiences, specifically in how they can make each of them feel like they’ll get the experience they value most.

So, that means we have to do a lot of work learning about our client’s audiences and how they usually spend their money. Some businesses, such as a water park or adventure park, have to compete against other recreational activities—some of which are free.

A waterpark, for example, has to compete against other activities such as mountain biking, camping, or golfing. For kids, the competition is things like trampoline parks, or other seasonal activities. So, our job is to find people who would choose a water park over other leisure activities, and speak to them in the right way.

“One way we do this,” explains Edward Moore, “is to offer the idea that you can’t recreate a water park or an adventure park experience at home. A plastic kiddie pool in your yard just isn’t going to cut it.”

We help our clients show the value of fun, especially the type of fun the whole family can enjoy together. Our objective (as it is in every ad we make) is to make people feel something. So, for something like this, maybe we want to evoke a feeling of missing out, or maybe one of nostalgia.

Audience, Audience, Audience

Whatever feeling we’re aiming to evoke can’t be the same for every audience. Who we’re trying to speak to should dictate the feeling we’d like them to feel. In order to do this, we think a lot about who would be interested in going to a water park or sporting event, and we ask our clients a lot of questions.

Example Audience Questions:

  • How old are they?
  • What is their household income?
  • Where do they live in relation to the arena/park/etc.?
  • What else do they do for fun?
  • Are there children in the home?

When we know as much as possible about our target audience, we can start to identify how to make that experience appeal to them. We try to uncover insights about the people we want to reach. We try to learn what makes them tick, what their pain points are, and what would motivate them to participate in that experience. Then, we can tailor how we talk about that experience to best speak to what that audience values most—and then make them feel a feeling!

Tangibles Inside the Intangibles

Another interesting part of marketing an experience is that there are opportunities for people to buy products within that experience. So, if we return to hockey, think about how an audience member might see advertisements for season passes, promos, or specially-priced tickets for the game the following week.

Those audience members who feel like they’re getting the most value out of their experience will be more likely to purchase more tickets so they can continue to have that experience.

Another fun thing we as an ad agency get to think about is how we can make room for other companies to market inside that experience. Think back to the last professional or semi-professional sporting event you’ve been to. Maybe there’s a special moment for a particular brand of beer. Or, maybe a nearby restaurant is the sponsor for a particular time period of the game.

Whatever the case, there are many, many ways people can be marketed to within an experience. There’s nothing like a jumbo-tron playing a gif of a glass filling up with ice-cold beer to make you want an ice-cold beer. Getting out of your seat during a play break, waiting in line with your friends, and taking that first sip as you walk back is all part of that experience. The coalescing of tangible goods with the overall experience is what makes this type of marketing so fun.

The Circle of Marketing

We are obviously very into helping our clients, and spend most of our days nerding out about the right ways to do it. If you need help marketing your experience, or just want to know a little bit more about what we do, hit us up!