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Introducing the 1-9-90 model: the value of 'second hand' experience

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After the PrettyGreen ‘Moment In Time’ event last month, in which Mark Stringer discussed why emotion is the key to engaging consumers, The Drum Network sought his invaluable advice to explain why the theme of the event was so important and how some companies are revealing the least appealing side of their brand.

The event covered why brand experiences play such a big part in Airbnb’s marketing. What do you find is the most efficient way to impact a large audience?

We focus too much on the 1% that come to the experience, when we actually benefit from concentrating on the 9% that will share, like and market for us; in any experience, only 1% of the total target audience will experience it first hand, 9% of them will be hearing about it directly from the 1% through word of mouth or online shares and an overwhelming 90% of the total target audience will be hearing about the event through PR marketing. If an event is incredible first hand but the reporting of it is mediocre, it will never deliver ROI.

The person who gets this right is Simon Cowell. He realises that the 1% is there to entertain the 9 and 90%. If not, why would Honey G be allowed through when she can’t sing? The reason is to entertain us and that’s what we need to talk about. Focus on the 9 and the 90%, not the 1% who are already converted.

You mentioned that people are no longer content long-term with tangible goods. What do you think is the cause of this change? Is it the demand of the digital generation that has influenced the way we market or has something caused a change of interest for everyone?

It’s human nature. If we see something every day, we habitualise it. Look back to presents and how much we wanted these things; now, we barely remember those objects.

Experiences seem to go up in value and they appear to grow experientially. When we look back on our childhood, the things that we did become nostalgic. And brands do the same thing – they talk about brand experiences. We talk about brand experiences the same way we talk about our own experiences and they grow in value as time passes.

There is a term used to refer to the addictive feeling that drug addicts suffer, and that is ‘euphoric recall’; this is what we talk about; we don’t remember pain, only the good feeling. I took my daughter to see the Northern Lights and I don’t remember being cold or having to get the kids ready, I only remember the euphoric moment.

This is what you should aim to create for consumers – give them a memory they can remember when they think about your brand.

Do you think we can create these experiences through social media?

I don’t believe that online experience is as effective when it comes to experiential marketing – it won’t necessarily grow in value in the same way because it is watched or read and then passes quickly. Creating a connection with an audience should be one they are physically involved in and can create a memory.

You spoke about the success of the long term Red Bull Stratos project – how can smaller companies create this experience without overstepping their budget?

No matter how big your budget is, it’s never big enough, but there are four main points to focus on to ensure success:

Focus on the 1-9-90 model

Companies need to look at the 1-9-90 model and make sure they maximise the reach to audience. We live vicariously through other people’s experiences and companies need to embrace this. How many times have you heard people elaborate on other people’s stories, such as going to a Beyoncé concert?

Launch something shareable

Think about launching something that creates shareable content because to be successful it's imperative that people are going to shout about it. All too often companies say “it didn’t work” and won’t repeat it, but you never see them do that with an advert. If an advert is unsuccessful, you will remodel your approach and present a different one the next year, so why wouldn’t you do that with an experiential campaign?

Learn to put the product second

Although it might sound alien, you need to remember that the experience is much more important than the product. Once the experience is had, then you can offer the commodity, because it is the experience that people remember when they see your brand. Take water – it is odourless, tasteless liquid, yet people have preferences over which brand they buy. This is not because they have a better product, it is because they have created a better brand experience that people relate to their label.

An example I can give is when 9Bar had a bad experience with sampling campaigns, so PrettyGreen changed their approach. The trick is you need to stop disruption; we removed the product from our vision and focused solely on how we would make people smile. Working the underground, we spoke to people, cracked jokes, asked them questions and engaged in other ways to brighten their day. Once we had cracked that boundary, we then offered them the product.

It may not be the best product, but it is the best brand. That is the most important thing.

Take time to analyse results

When we have finished with a campaign, there is the task of analysing how well it went and it's always based on numbers. The issue is, we are judged today, in the here and now. However, we know that the value will increase over time, so we should really be judging it over six months to get accurate results, and not just on the numbers but what people have said about it and what impact it has made. People always talk about the experiences, yet we don’t measure them based on that.

Which platform are you personally most influenced by and why?

I like all social media but from a business perspective, I like to express myself on LinkedIn. I like to write and don’t really care who reads, which is quite self-indulgent but it's important for people to hear you as you naturally are. I find it’s really tough to write negative things on social media, but sometimes I really want to. Occasionally, being realistic on social media and breaking the social convention is not only necessary, but healthy – although I had to fight the urge to end on a positive note!

What is a piece of advice you can give about work ethic?

The worst thing that can happen is looking back and realising that life is punctuated by your holidays. If that happens then I think there’s something wrong. Creativity needs to be defining moments in your life – and that’s what a creative agency needs to do. ‘Life defining moments’ is a big statement but my past (working on films such as Pixar, Snow White, Pretty Woman, Dead Poets Society) has defined my life. It is the moments during your work that should shape your life.

How do you create that for the people in the agency and your clients?

There is a high percentage of people who don’t know what they want to do, they just enjoy things. Whatever I wanted to do, that’s what I was going to do – it became a personal thing. I was invited to hang around the Red Bull office three days a week and two days a week I could do whatever I liked. They asked me to set up an agency but I was unsure about leaving behind all these other things I wanted to do. But I realised I could have my life defining moments and get help in with the agency. I very quickly realised the agency isn’t about what I wanted to do, it is about helping people do what they want to do. My view is if you can get people to think something is fun then they will do it.

We are in a time where people live for the moment and embrace an interconnected world. By feeding the interest of people and appealing to their human nature, agencies will build relationships and naturally generate reason for loyalty to their brand. We all know how to let our guard down at networking events and how to charm our way into a club, so why should our relationship with consumers be any different?

Mark Stringer is founder of entertainment, sports and wellbeing agency PrettyGreen.