How to find a place in the hearts, minds & pockets of your customer: Be Real

Marketing…. Hmmmm how about having a real magical conversation with your audience?

We’ve all had conversations that feel real, and genuine.

And we instinctively know when they feel disingenuous and transactional.

As a brand, your conversation with your “audience” is no different. How do we the purveyor of value have a real conversation with humans that really connects with them. Dare I say surprises them and gets them caught up in the conversation.

Remember those moments where you have got whipped up into the frenzy of an experience, where time stood still and out you arrived hours later.

We have the opportunity to do just that. To design experiences through “smart storytelling” Jamie Shaw, which connect to all the senses.

Whether you’ve read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, or Perfume by Suskind, how can we tap into the notion of synesthesia? To hear food. To taste color. To touch music.

Our playground has exploded now with covid. As in-person is no longer a guaranteed, what does experience look and feel like on a myriad of levels.

My recent interview with Jamie Shaw, Global Director for experience, creative and brand at experiential agency Cogs & Marvel revealed so much into the inner belly of doing just that:

Her work with Adobe transformed an HR benefits reveal, into the most talked about employee engagement project. People could not believe that so much energy had gone to creating this thoughtful, touching and entertaining experience.

Sharing news about HR benefits could have taken the shape of a dry digital webinar, but the team were determined not to make that happen. With that in mind, they planned a program modeled after TV formats designed to entertain: chat shows, late shows and game shows.

The Show logged numbers that exceeded all expectations, and garnered real-time accolades from the toughest audience: employees attending an HR benefits program.

Or how about the second edition of “That Lady Thing”, which tackled serious gender equality issues by posing provocative questions juxtaposed against fun, Instagrammable backdrops that captured the spirit of the #metoo times.

Set to coincide with International Women’s Day, features like proceed-at-your-own-risk scratch-and-sniff wallpaper designs, highlighted by the gasoline tinged, “Toxic Masculinity” banana print, Installations included the “Raise Her Up” seesaw; the crowd pleasing “Pink Tax” game show which addressed the cost difference between men’s and women’s functionally identical personal care items.

Previously, I have had conversations with food artist and anthropologist Caroline Hobkinson, who partnered with Unusual Ingredients to bring together the multi-sensory relationship between sound and flavour using live musical events and an album. Drawing on the latest astrophysical research into sensory perception, their music uses exact sonic frequencies and musical gestures calibrated to enhance the mouthfeel, flavour and provenance of each ingredient. Think Willy Wonka mixed with electronic music and cutting edge cross-disciplinary science.

“Food explains our status and identity. The table is a place where we become aware of who we are. Around the table, all previous meals come together in an endless succession of memories and future associations.” Caroline Hobkinson

We give it a whirl in an episode of the HiHelloSura Show. As a brand, what emotion are you looking to inspire? Where do you want to take your audience? Unlock the theatre of the senses to connect readily with your audience.

Okay let’s get practical.

Apart from seeking to inspire you with phenomenal doers and creators, let’s roll up are sleeves and start designing.

Step 1: Map out the journey of your customer. Notice the moments of delight and the moments of pain. These provide you with tangible areas to focus on, ripe for reinvention.

Step 2: Think about 5 Questions to reimagine and design the experience for your audience. BUT remember, as Jamie said, think about this as a cobweb of experiences versus a Linear A-B. You can story tell in ALL the mediums.






How do you approach connecting with your audience? Please share your best practice and top tips or brands that stop you in their tracks with their genius.



Former Disney Innovation Catalyst I Founder of Unleash your Creativity Masterclass I Founder of HiHelloSura I Small Creativity Habits for Big Change

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Sura Al-Naimi

Former Disney Innovation Catalyst I Founder of Unleash your Creativity Masterclass I Founder of HiHelloSura I Small Creativity Habits for Big Change