Experimental marketing


Marketers can provide experiences for customers through a set of experience providers. Columbia University’s Bernd Schmitt has developed the concept of Customer Experience Management (CEM)—the process of strategically managing a customer’s entire experience with a product or company.

The CEM framework is made up of five basic steps:

1. Analyzing the experiential world of the customer: gaining insights into the socio-cultural context of consumers or the business context of business customers.

2. Building the experiential platform: developing a strategy that includes the positioning for the kind of experience the brand stands for (“what�), the value proposition of what relevant experience to deliver (“why�), and the overall implementation theme that will be communicated (“how�)

3. Designing the brand experience: Implementing their experiential platform in the look and feel of logos and signage, packaging, and retail spaces, in advertising, collateral, and online.

4. Structuring the customer interface: implementing the experiential platform in the dynamic and interactive interfaces including face-to-face, in stores, during sales visits, at the check-in desk of a hotel, or the e-commerce engine of a Website.

5. Engaging in continuous innovation: implementing the experiential platform in new-product development, creative marketing events for customers, an fine-tuning the experience at every point of contact.

According to Schmitt, brands can help to create five different types of experiences:

1. Sense
2. Feel
3. Think
4. Act
5. Relate.

In each case, there is a difference between hard-wired and acquired experiential response levels. They are:

a) Communications:
Advertising, public relations, annual reports, brochures, newsletters, and maga logs

b) Visual/verbal identity: names logos, signage, and transportation vehicles.

c) Product presence: product design, packaging, and point-of-sale displays.

d) Co-branding: event marketing and sponsorships, alliances and partnership, licensing and product placement in movies of TV.

e) Environment: retail and public spaces, trade booths, corporate buildings, office interiors, and factories.

f) Web sites and electronic media: corporate sites, product or service sites, CD-ROMs, automated e-mails, online advertising, n intranets.

g) People: salespeople, customer service representatives, technical support or repair, company spokespersons, and CEOs and other executives.

Prêt A Manger, the UK-based sandwich company, provides an attractive brand experience, customer interface, and ongoing innovation. The Pret A Manger brand is about great tasting, handmade, natural product served by amazing people who are passionate about their work. The sandwiches and stores look appealing and attractive. The company hires only 5% of those who apply and only after they have worked for a day in the shop. This process ensures good fit and good teamwork.

Singapore Airlines, Starbucks, and Amazon.com are rated as some of the outstanding providers of customer experiences.