If the aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous then the aim of experiences is to make other forms of marketing superfluous.
By creating marketing experiences – compelling and frequently offbeat physical or virtual places designed to attract new customers and rekindle the interest of customers – companies generate additional demand for core offerings. The experience may be poles apart from the company's core manufacturing or service business, but it becomes the entrée for a relationship and a host of potential transactions.
Companies which understand that the experience is the marketing find their venues create so much goodwill (and economic value) they completely forgo traditional advertising. Some marketing experiences generate enough revenue to pay for themselves.
Consider a strategy by ING Direct, a retail bank with no physical branches. To promote its banking business among potential customers, it opened a cafe in New York. It serves coffee in a pleasing environment with a lounge where patrons can read newspapers, track the markets on plasma screens, use the complimentary internet access or simply chat or people-watch.
Customers can't perform financial transactions in the ING Direct Café. Yet it yielded more than $200m in new accounts and mortgages within a year of opening. ING Direct realised that financial services had become so commoditised that an engaging experience was the best way to expose potential customers to its offerings.
Extract from Why Experience Marketing Pays by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore at www.strategy-business.com“”