Human Experience as an Advertising Medium

In today’s media-saturated world, advertisers are finding it increasingly difficult to reach consumers using strategies that rely on interruption, repetition, and ubiquity. As consumers increasingly adopt technologies that allow them to avoid advertisements, including DVRs, ad blockers, and ad-free content providers, marketers must adapt their strategies to ensure that their advertising is effective. This may require a redefinition of what advertising is and how it is delivered.

This article provides a framework for understanding how human experience can be used as a medium for advertising. It is based on the understanding that human experience is a vast medium for advertising that can and should be approached strategically. Whether advertising works in this arena depends on how marketers conceive its purpose, how they craft and place their messages, and, most important, whether consumers welcome the messaging and invite advertisers’ brands into their lives.

The ideas in the text have been applied to media, retail, financial services, pharmaceutical, and consumer packaged goods companies.

What is Human Experience?

The focus of marketing strategies should be on human beings in order to create valuable connections.

The focus is not on the consumer, client, target audience, or shopper, but rather the person with whom the brand connects.

The robotization of humans refers to the increased speed of routines due to technology. Technology helps us face this frantic rhythm with practicality and agility, but it also causes us to become more like robots.

We prefer to read posts about people instead of talking to them. We read online evaluations instead of exchanging experiences with other consumers, we buy through the internet instead of talking with sellers, and so on.

As time goes by, we feel less human because we have no time to socialize, exchange looks and smiles, understand emotions, and connect.

Many companies today focus on Relationship Marketing strategies, but this often artificializes the connection between customer and company. The goal of Human Experience is to create a more natural and authentic connection between people.

This trend of looking inward for marketing strategies is not new. Marketing strategies used to only focus on production and not look outward.

Companies began to see people as potential customers, rather than as individuals.

This was the realization that third generation marketing had, that consumers are unique and complex individuals that should be treated as such.

Now marketing is moving towards interacting with people instead of customers and making the experience of using a brand more human.

Human Experience, User Experience, Customer-Centric

What are the differences?

Starting with Marketing 3.0, companies began making the customer their main focus, rather than what the company itself wanted. They would think about the customer’s needs, how they would react to certain situations, and what their concerns and behaviors were. As customers interacted with the company (through its brands), they would help shape what the company did.

Then, other concepts emerged to synthesize this relationship:

User experience refers to the way users interact with digital products and interfaces. User experience guides the development of digital products to deliver value to the public. User experience is most commonly used in design and information technology. A user-centered mentality guides user experience.

CX is all about creating a positive, valuable experience for consumers during their interactions with the brand. The goal is to have a customer-centric mentality, where the needs of the customer always come first.

This means that businesses should care about more than earning a profit—they should focus on connecting with their customers and providing a positive experience for them. The concept of Human Experience proposed by businesses is that they should be human-centric. This means that businesses should care about more than earning a profit and focus on connecting with customers and providing a positive experience.

Brands and products are just one element of human beings’ lives.

The question is how marketing can be more relevant to people’s lives.

The goal of the Human Experience is to create positive experiences that align with people’s goals and values, rather than with the idea of consuming or using products.

Additionally, the term Human Experience applies to not just those on the outside, but also employees and business partners. Everyone surrounding a company counts as part of the Human Experience.

Deloitte proposed a formula that includes Human Experience, with a focus on consumers (Customer Experience or CX), employees (Workforce Experience or WX), and partners (Partner Experience or PX).

Why Is It Important to Focus on the Human Experience?

The Human Experience perspective encourages companies to focus on doing good for people, rather than simply selling products or services. This more altruistic approach can help companies develop a better reputation and more loyal customers.

While sales, income, and profit are still important for a business to survive, they now exist to serve people.

Changes in technology will not stop and digital marketing, ecommerce, and other online services are still important. However, these technologies now exist to serve people instead of the other way around.

Now is a good time for companies to analyze their marketing strategies, content, technologies, publicity, and services to see how they can improve people’s lives.

What can they do to provide a more valuable experience that is in line with people’s purposes and values in the grand scheme of things?

Brands that offer products and services that are contextually relevant to people’s lives become much more successful.

Creating humanized experiences for clients, partners, and employees is associated with organizational growth and stronger brand loyalty, according to Deloitte.

Brands that improve people’s lives deliver more value to the market and establish deeper connections.

When people have Truly Human Experiences, they feel more alive and fulfilled. These experiences connect them to their natural surroundings and align them with their values and goals.

This tendency toward digital marketing has been strong, transforming the way companies do marketing.

How to Apply Human Experience to Your Business?

Here are some tips to help you apply the concept of a Human Experience strategy to your business:

  1. Incorporate the purpose and values of the brand in your everyday life. a purpose is one of the pillars of brands that want to connect with people. The purpose must also be coherent with the brand’s values, which define its personality and make it more relatable to the public.
  2. Create a culture that is accepting of mistakes. by creating a culture that accepts failure but celebrates achievements, you also create a more humanized working environment for employees. 
  3. Understand human needs. Take a close look at people to understand their needs and connect with them. Notice that this requires an empathy exercise from the brand, much beyond market research numbers.
  4. Respect people’s timing. Empathy, in the context of Human Experience, allows you to perceive the moment that the person on the other side of the conversation is living.
  5. Create caring and welcoming spaces. By dealing directly with clients and consumers, the marketing area of the company also needs to create relationships and show that the brand cares about people.

Be a Presence

Standard ad messaging is becoming out of date. To win consumers’ attention and trust, marketers need to focus less on what advertising says to its targets and more on what it does for them. Advertising campaigns should be conceived as a sustained and rewarding presence in consumers’ lives, rather than as a beginning, a middle, and an end that hammers home a point.

The idea that commercial messaging should be more than just an advertisement is a new and disruptive idea for the advertising industry, which is most familiar with TV spots and display ads. However, marketers at Diageo and other companies are pushing the boundaries of advertising. For example, Demand Media, Skyword, and BuzzFeed have all contributed to the growth of native content – content that is designed to complement commercial messaging and encourage consumers to engage with it. Rolex takes this a step further by linking its online display ads to the World of Music – a New York Times survey of concerts and operas that has been branded with the company’s iconic crown logo. This is designed to appeal to the Rolex-buying demographic.

Such advertising is not like other types of advertising. In the best cases, it is honest and interesting, and provides worth and value. But even if your message is important, trying to get attention by shouting louder than other messages on all of the different media platforms is not a long-term plan. If people’s experiences are a place for advertising, how can marketers approach consumers there in ways that they will accept?

When working, I tell marketers to think of the internet as four different areas: the public sphere (where we go from one place or activity to another online and offline), the social sphere (where we interact with and relate to others), the tribal sphere (where we join groups to express our identity), and the psychological sphere (where we connect words with thoughts and emotions).

By looking at how consumers live their lives and what circumstances they will be receptive to messages, marketers can create more effective advertising programs.

The Psychological Sphere

This sphere is designed for ads that insert words, phrases, or emotions into a consumer’s psychological processes in order to simplify complex concepts, encourage positive actions, or provoke positive emotions. The guidelines for successful advertising in this realm are based on four principles: coming up with new ways to articulate ideas, establishing habits, guiding reasoning, and evoking emotion.

Psychological-sphere ads typically operate in one of four ways:

-They use language to establish a cognitive beachhead for a brand, meaning they use language to make the brands name more well known. -Some brands coopt commonplace words or phrases in order to make themselves more memorable, like how Staples uses “That was easy,” Apple uses “Think differently,” and Nike uses “Just do it.” -Nike’s motto is synonymous with the brand and is often associated with achieving one’s personal best. In other words, it’s not just an advertisement, but also a motivator. -There are also psychological ads that brands use in order to move into the language, such as with Xerox, Google, and FedEx. -Brands also use words to identify themselves with an action or attribute in order to “own” familiar words in a new way. For example, Facebook has done this with “friend” and Twitter with “follow.” -Some brands even coin memorable words or phrases in order to make themselves even more well known, such as Budweiser’s “Whassup?” and Taco Bell’s “Yo Quiero Taco Bell.”

The companies mentioned are trying to get consumers to create habits that will result in them using the companies’ products more frequently. For example, Nike’s “Just do it” slogan encourages people to run every day, with the hope that they will buy more Nike products. Similarly, Alka-Seltzer’s “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” slogan is designed to make people think of the company’s product after overeating.

Inspiring slogans that guide employee and customer thinking are common among successful companies. IBM has used “THINK” since its founding to inspire employees and project its values to the outside world—just as, more recently, the Economist has promoted “Think responsibly” and “Think someone under the table.” Google’s “Don’t be evil,” famously included in its IPO prospectus, became a mantra for entrepreneurs and consumers alike (despite some skepticism about Google’s capacity to abide by it). Josh James, the founder of Omniture, a web analytics company now owned by Adobe, developed a simple phrase, “Think, go, do,” as the corporate mantra and brand tagline. From a cognitive perspective, it’s both inspiring and practical. And Oneupweb, a digital services company that aims to connect customers with brands in every way possible, operates according to a simple admonition: “Be relentless.” It, too, advertises the brand and guides thought.

A brand’s emotional connection is important to its success. For example, the Jacobs brothers weren’t very successful selling T-shirts until they created a shirt with a happy character and the slogan “Life is good.” This shirt caused an immediate positive emotional response from their friends. Now their company, Life is good Inc., sells 900 items through 4,500 retail stores and 100 independent shops. They don’t do any other advertising except for the logo and slogan on their products. Their success is due to their focus on promoting a positive frame of mind.


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