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7 Brands That Nail Being “Experience Makers” (Adobe Summit 2018)

by | May 2, 2018

Adobe Systems CEO, Shantanu Narayen, opened Adobe Summit 2018 with a powerful keynote and a specific goal for attendees. His wish for us was to “leave the summit with what you need to do to be experience makers.”
What does it mean to be an “Experience Maker?” It means more than creating great experiences. It is understanding that feelings influence the choices your customers make and everything they do. It’s understanding that people buy experiences, not products. Successful companies embrace this trend.
Throughout Adobe Summit 2018, there were hundreds of examples of amazing and innovative ways of thinking to not only improve the customer journey, but to make memorable moments for customers. The following are a few of my favorites.

MGM Grand: Moving from Being Data Rich to Insights Driven

MGM was able to create big insights from little data (opposed to the more popular “big data” trend). They used the data from their customers’ room key activity and roomservice ordering tablet to come up with email campaigns targeted specifically to user behavior. For example, if they saw a room key check-in after 2 a.m. combined with previous roomservice activity, that customer would receive a “Hangover Breakfast Special” email with their morning wake-up call! Room service orders with this strategy increased more than 40%.

Magic Castle Hotel: Using Popsicles to Out-Rank the 4 Seasons

The #2 rated hotel in Los Angeles is not by mistake. Although it’s not much to look at, the experiences within the hotel range from memorable to even remarkable. Guest families enjoy an unlimited free snack bar that’s open 24 hours a day, a popsicle hotline concierge service (delivered by a butler wearing white gloves and all) and a level of service that borders on customer obsession. Families willingly trade in glitz and glamour for the level of customer service offered in this high-cost city hotel. The real lesson here is that if Magic Castle focused on just reducing “pain points,” they would have simply remodeled the building rather than providing over-the-top experiences that put them at #2 (above the 4 Seasons)!

Southwest Airlines: Cashing in with Funny

If you’ve been on a Southwest flight lately, you’ve likely experienced humor in the mix of flight and safety announcements. What are funny flight announcements worth? A lot. Customers who cited a funny announcement or experience after flight not only became more loyal, but flew an average 1/2 flight more in the following year after the announcements began.

Pret A Manger: Opting for Random Acts of Kindness Over a Loyalty Engine

Sandwich and coffee shop Pret A Manger was considering purchasing a loyalty engine to drive repeat customers. Instead, they boldly decided to give all of the counter servers a budget every week to simply “give away free stuff.” This not only improved repeat purchases and loyalty from customers being surprised and delighted, but also increased employee satisfaction by arming employees with the ability to make someone’s day! Spending More to Enrich Gratitude is a donation website that makes it easy for anyone to help a classroom in need. Users have the ability to browse and choose what teachers and classroom stories to donate too. Instead of a more efficient digital thank you from the classes, allows for the creation and delivery of handwritten thank-you letters from the kids to the donors. After all, there are some experiences in life that are more precious when they’re not efficient.

Amazon & Whole Foods: Holding the Keys to Grocery Shopping Future


Do not dismiss Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods as an unremarkable event. The future of grocery shopping, consumer food purchase and AI learning systems is coming in a not-so-distant future. Just think of this scenario: Driving home from work and telling your smart speaker “I want a meatloaf,” and boom, when you arrive home, the ingredients are already there.

Brands will greatly benefit from rising above the customer journey map to provide above-and-beyond experiences. What will be yours?

Patty Parobek, Director of Integrated Marketing Strategy

Patty develops effective marketing plans based on valuable user insights. She also uses a test-and-learn strategy to continually optimize marketing initiatives to achieve the best results.

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