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Jun 11, 201901:15 PMOpen Mic

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How to adapt your marketing for the Experience Era

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“Youth don’t care what you know, until they know how much you care.” This quote hung on the wall of one of the most inspirational people in my life, my agriculture teacher, Mr. A. He was more like my second dad, and he lived this message every day. This was his authentic personal brand, long before a personal brand was even a thing, or before “authentic” was the word of the year.

This quote also captures the essence of marketing in the Experience Era.

You may be thinking, huh? What does a teacher have to do with a customer experience?

Just like youth being more receptive to teachers who show that they care, customers want an authentic experience with your company; and not just some one-time thing because it made your company look good. That’s not an authentic experience. Customers want to feel good about buying from you. That’s the positive experience they desire. Making that experience a reality might sound a bit exhausting, right?

It doesn’t have to be. Not when when your brand is clearly rooted in values (any values, you choose), and that comes through in genuine customer experiences. It’s no longer about show and tell. It’s about feeling. Mr. A. was on to something far before his time.

How things have changed

Let’s take a look back, so we can see just how much things have changed.

Baby boomers, born 1946–1964, grew up in the era when the television was king. TV was invented in 1927. In 1930, only 9 percent of U.S. households had a television; by 1960 that was 90 percent. Boomers grew up in that era when families were excitedly purchasing TVs and it became a focal point, where families gathered to engage in TV media, as a one-way communication stream.

Next came Generation X, growing up with the rise of the Information Technology Era and emergence of computers, and eventually, the internet. This audience grew up learning how to seek out information online.

For most of baby boomers and Gen Xers lives, they were provided a one-way communication channel: being given messages and provided information. If a company provided poor customer service, or didn’t live up to its promises, there wasn’t a feedback loop for customers to publicly voice those concerns. The most that a dissatisfied customer could do was stop shopping there, or complain to Nancy down the street.

Millennials, born from 1981–1997, grew up in the age of the proliferation of digital media, including the rise of connectivity everywhere.

Today, customers have the power to hold brands accountable, with social media platforms and forums to voice opinions online and in the mainstream media. Today, customers can even find data about companies, how much they pay their leadership, follow or break laws, or invest back in their staff and the community.

This evolution in technology has allowed for greater accountability and engagement between customers and businesses. It’s created a two-way communication loop, and it’s provided platforms for customers to sing praises and shout frustrations about companies.

Much of the cultural changes that companies are seeing about what employees value is being driven by a millennial audience that has grown up with different expectations for companies. Studies show that millennials will sacrifice higher earnings in order to work for a company with which they feel purpose and alignment with its mission. Millennials are willing to spend more for the same product or service with a company if they get a better experience and it aligns with their values. These new priorities among a millennial workforce and customer base are impacting how businesses need to adapt their marketing for the Experience Era. These adaptations need to occur both internally in company culture and externally in the message that’s shared with the market. What you say and do needs to be authentic from the inside out.

Adapting your marketing for the Experience Era requires more than shifting your marketing. It requires adaptation at every level in business. That’s what makes it both difficult — and fun — and why those who adapt will reap the biggest rewards.

Youth don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. And customers don’t care how great you say you are, until they feel that it’s truth.

For the last 20-plus years, we’ve been experiencing the Information Revolution. In this information technology era, people became empowered to seek out information and have it available at their fingertips. But a change is happening. People no longer think of the internet or perfectly designed website as a luxury. It’s now an expectation, and today, customer’s expectations have evolved even further.

ENTER: The Experience Era

Your brand’s experience is more than “good” customer service. In fact, there’s a huge difference between customer service and customer experience (CX). Customer service typically happens after the sale — servicing the customers. CX is a more thought out overall experience that involves everything that your company does before, during, and after someone is a customer. This includes their first impression, how you engage with them online, and being intentional in the emotional connection that you’re striving to create with your brand. Even if someone never becomes a customer, the experience is there. What’s the entire experience like engaging with your company?


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