A life(cycle) made of moments

Thomas Scott

Thomas Scott is an account manager working at The Brand Agency, an advertising agency in Perth, Western Australia. Since entering the communications industry after being named the Communications Council’s Jump Start winner (WA) in 2018, he has worked on some of WA’s most prestigious brands from both the public and private sector, across the FMCG, Financial, and Property industries. Across these clients, he has both contributed to and led the development of advertising campaigns; developed new product packaging; aided in product development; planned large-scale events; and conducted audits of marketing systems and processes for clients.

Got a moment? Grab a piece of paper and pen and plot out your whole life in three minutes.

It’s not going to be a multi-part biography, but it’ll give a stranger a rough understanding of who you are: Your birth, education, jobs, financial investments and your significant (lack of) relationships.

But what if you were given more time? You’d be able to dig into those moments that shaped your personality and course of life, the ones you’re proud of or not so proud of, and the ones you wish you could forget.

Moments define who we are. We keep them locked away in our minds; a key to which holds access to our fondest, most personal and ultimately special occurrences in life, as well as those where we have pushed to the bottom of our cranial treasure chest so that they may never be revisited. They’re a mental photo album we can flick through at leisure, leaving us smiling or grimacing. We bring the more favourable ones up at dinners and parties because they help us craft great stories about ourselves. And let’s be honest, this portfolio of moments is near on everything we remember that makes us interesting.

It’s not just us. Famous movies, books, sporting and historical events are remembered and recalled by a series of defining moments within, rather than the holistic picture. I bet almost all of us remember watching Kathy Freeman’s gold in the 2000 Olympics. But who won the race before?

Moments define our perceptions of brands, too. Your first pair of Nikes or that half time Mrs Mac’s pie your parents bought you at your first AFL game to give a couple of examples. They’re special in the context of brands as they don’t necessarily have to be as grandeur as our life-defining moments. While I’d like to think that a Mrs Mac’s pie doesn’t largely contribute to the definition of my character, it certainly defines what I’m craving at half time at the footy. That first tomato sauce-smothered bite under the hazed Optus Stadium lights on a Friday evening is something I’m salivating over long before I’ve bought my ticket to the game.

But despite moments being so undoubtedly powerful for building sustained positive perceptions of brands, they are seldom considered a branding tool. The argument is they only occur, well, in the moment.

On the contrary, you can craft and incorporate defining moments into your touch points for your customers. Companies that do will find their brands stronger in the long term when it comes to brand recall, positive brand associations and organic reach.

Moments versus experiences

Moments are not to be confused with experiences. An experience is an occurrence where one goes through a series of tangible events, either unplanned or planned, that leads to an emotional outcome. This could be feeling accomplished for completing an abseiling course, or a certificate of completion. A moment, on the other hand, is not defined by a tangible series of events, but is merely a snapshot captured from within an experience triggered by a highly emotional response to a situation.

Put simply, a moment is a highly vivid memory. And to incorporate them into our branding – much like how we recall our personal defining moments – it all starts with a piece of paper, a pen and a formation of a timeline.

Finding the moments that matter

Plot out your product or service’s touch points with your consumer, focusing on how people might discover your product, the point-of-sale process, how it’s used, and its inescapable demise. Like your three-minute timeline of your life, this will provide you with a basic understanding of the key interactions your customers have with your brand, product or service. Pick each of these interactions apart, and see how you can change the process to incorporate a special moment or two for your customers.

The discovery phase ultimately leads to an ‘a-ha!’ moment, where the customer has finally found a solution to their itching problem. If your brand just so happens to be that solution, you’ve already managed to put yourself in their good books. How could you then change the copy on your website or your conversations in-store to resonate with these emotions? What video or collateral can you use to tell a story about your product or service, to make the customer feel like they’ve just struck gold by landing on your page?

A great example of this can be seen in Nike’s new release of its Air Zoom Pegasus 37 shoe range through a YouTube video. The content goes through the history of the shoe, how the product has changed, and revisits a famous egg test to show the softness of the shoe. You finish the video feeling more attached to the brand, fascinated by the shoe’s history, and ultimately more confident to purchase the product.

Once the appointment is booked or the product’s in the basket, the customer is looking to pay. Here we encounter a well-rehearsed exchange that has been practiced since humans ever had anything of worth to trade. Consequentially, we’re in auto-pilot mode.

But what if we could break that mould, and turn the mundane exchange of goods into an unsuspecting moment for our customers? What if that customer who has been shopping with you for over a year gets a personalised message from the retail clerk, or even a card printed, thanking them for their loyalty?

It’s a simple, highly cost-effective strategy for putting a smile on your customers’ face. What if that same loyal customer was then invited to brand-exclusive events? The women’s makeup brand, Mecca, does this, and while customers aren’t exposed to these events at the checkout, it provides great food for thought as to how we can begin rewarding loyalty at the point of purchase, and leave our customers wondering what might happen next time they make a purchase.

Having acquired your product or service and settled back into their daily routine, understanding how or why that customer is using either allows you to work towards heightening that experience for them. Did they just get a haircut? Send through some information a few days later on how best to look after or style it, and at what point they may want to come back for another visit. Did they just purchase a motorbike or a new 4WD? Give them a follow up call to see how they’re faring, and even recommend some lesser-known tracks or destinations just out of town.

Moments can be created by what your product does or how it makes the customer feel – not just what you bring to the customer. If they’ve purchased a brand new pair of those swanky Nikes, give them information on the Nike Running app and how they can use it to track their goals. Better still, congratulate them for achieving these goals down the track next time they come into store.

There’s no reason to shy away from the fact that products wear down and services need to be re-instigated either. Instead, acknowledge it and turn it into something special. A runner knows their shoes last a certain amount of mileage before they wear out, so build an ecosystem congratulating them on running that far and offer a discount on a new pair.

Apple offers a similar system of recycling broken down products, offering credit for workable parts, and often goes further by educating the customer on how its recycling is contributing to the betterment of the environment. If you run a consulting service, think of ways you can educate your customer after your working partnership is up – a simple email with a relevant article, a client networking event.

Ultimately, make your experience with your customers special. Give them something to talk about with their friends, something to work towards, and something to look forward to with a burning anticipation.

We look back on and forward to moments; those snippets of time that bring us out of monotony and make us appreciate the present. And if we can deliver those to our customers, no matter how small, it’s likely that they’ll value our brands all the more for it.

Tags: customer experience management, brand strategy

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