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How experiential marries data and emotion

By Jo Curtis, Co-founder



The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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July 30, 2019 | 5 min read

In an ever more tech-oriented world, director and co-founder of Jackanory Jo Curtis argues that emotion created through experience is the best path forward.

Light streaks

There’s no doubt that more and more aspects of our lives are becoming automated. From smart phones to smart cars, from music streaming to mobile banking, whether we like it or not the rise of Automated Intelligence (AI) is affecting our lifestyles every day. AI has revolutionized the technology landscape, bringing about huge societal benefits by powering innovation in healthcare, transportation and farming. By creating smart cities and smart homes, it is undeniably enhancing our day-to-day lives.

Rather than stripping people of their jobs many argue that AI could in fact deliver a boost to the economy by enabling humans to work in a more efficient way. It’s no surprise that there’s a continued interest in AI, with budgets being diverted to automated marketing, but those holding the budgets should remember that AI has its limitations. While it works to mimic human intelligence, it’s only one-dimensional, driven by data and algorithms, completely lacking the human feelings that guide our everyday thoughts.

A guaranteed connection

So what does this mean for brands looking to embrace the ever-changing technological landscape while still connecting to their consumers’ hearts as well as minds? Clearly brands need to balance the increased use of AI with marketing activity that will truly connect with their consumers’ thoughts and feelings, tapping in to emotions that AI simply can’t.

Machines, for all their automated intelligence, data and algorithms, do not and cannot have the complex emotions or moral values that we have. As human beings we’re highly sensitive and emotional intellectuals; we see, hear, think and feel. So surely in this increasingly data-driven, automated world, brands need to work harder to really connect with their consumers on an emotional level?

This means working to engage hearts first, then minds, a task which can be tricky with automated intelligence alone. It requires a means of connecting emotionally through shared experiences, stories, pictures, metaphors. Whether we’re conscious of it or not, we all make decisions emotionally and then justify them rationally. We may not like to think of ourselves operating in this way, but if we want to persuade someone to buy or try something, then we have to first connect with them emotionally, get into their world and find out what makes them tick. When people make purchases they are motivated by emotion first; once they’ve decided emotionally to buy or try something, they’ll grab at any proffered reason to justify it. It’s only after we’ve won them emotionally that we should provide reasons why buying or trying a product or service is a good thing.

So how can brands connect emotionally with consumers in this data-driven age? We’d argue that experiential marketing - face-to-face interactions, harnessing the power of emotions - is more important than ever. Done well, experiential marketing really can connect with people emotionally and make them think or feel differently, ultimately persuading them to try or buy. The best brand experiences are thought-provoking and engaging, appealing to people’s senses, curiosity and feelings. What’s more, they allow us to tell stories - and it’s these stories that help create emotional connections with consumers, not data, facts or figures. While we believe that every brand has a story, as individuals we too are constantly collecting stories of our own, seeking out events and experiences that will build memories, create stories and make us feel different in some way.

Emotion over all

As Maya Angelou said “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” In a brand marketing context this is backed up in a report by Forrester which states that emotion and the way an experience makes people feel is the number one factor driving brand loyalty, over and above ease and effectiveness. It all goes to demonstrate that the power of emotion cannot and should not be overlooked.

While AI is undoubtedly making our lives easier in many ways, the power of human emotions shouldn’t be forgotten, particularly for brands who are looking to stay ahead of the curve, build real consumer relationships and long-lasting brand loyalty. With its human, face-to-face interactions that engage all the senses, connect on an emotional level and make people really feel something, experiential marketing is surely more important than ever? After all, without feelings, without real human contact and emotional connections, where are we? Who are we?

To paraphrase the famous beer slogan: experiential marketing reaches the parts AI can’t.

Let’s keep the human connection going.


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