Mastercard CMO Raja Rajamannar on the Power of Experience Marketing

Too often, entrepreneurs look for shiny new marketing campaigns–ignoring their brand’s hidden gold.

You may have branding issues, sure. But it’s also possible that your problem is less about positioning than tactics.

From virtual reality to live video, business owners shouldn’t chase every new marketing trend that comes along. In fact, often reexamining what has worked in the past and thinking about how to apply those successes on new platforms is the first place to start.

Look, for example, at Mastercard. The payments technology company has been globally recognized brand for a very long time. Mastercard’s chief marketing and communications officer, Raja Rajamannar, says that his biggest task when hired in 2013 was to optimize a pre-digital brand for the present-day.

Rather than ditch a mature campaign to make his mark, he looked at the long game.

Here are four lessons we can learn from it about optimizing your marketing in the digital age:

1. Big Ideas Work for a Long Time

We all know Mastercard’s “Priceless” campaign. It’s been around forever, and it still works because it’s based on a fundamental human truth: Moments matter more to us than things.

This idea holds true in the digital age. As Rajamannar puts it: “We offer people the one thing money can’t buy: experience.”

Ask yourself:

  • What’s the universal truth about your business?
  • Does your marketing reflect what made people buy from you in the first place?

If not, it might be time to reexamine your strategy and tactics. Make adjustments. Think about long-range goals as well as short-term gains for your brand.

2. Play to Consumer Passion Points

Rajamannar says Mastercard has identified nine categories that people–regardless of nationality, culture, or religion–get excited about: entertainment, music, travel, art and culture, culinary and dining, philanthropy, shopping and the environment.

The company has used those categories to curate experiences in 45 cities around the globe. Depending on the location, the passion points changed by importance–but the overarching marketing strategy remained the same.

Most of us don’t have the reach or the resources of a brand like Mastercard, but you can add a lot of power to your campaigns by understanding and playing to your customers’ passion points.

Create one memorable experience for your customers. Give them something that plays to their interests. Give them something to talk about.

3. Give Yourself Time to Succeed

Avoid the common mistake of looking at marketing as a purely brand building or a creative function. Instead, work to understand and align your approach with your company’s business objectives.

Marketers love their metrics, but those numbers aren’t necessarily meaningful to CEOs and CFOs, whose focus is the bottom line.

According to fractl.com, the average marketing campaign takes six to 12 months to generate results. Meanwhile, a CEO is ranked quarter by quarter–and your marketing team has to prove why they may need more time to test and establish campaign recall.

Often, we don’t give marketing efforts enough time to work.

Look beyond just brand building to connect the dots for executives and shareholders.

4. Go Ahead, Get Emotional

People tend to prefer brand-name products because they’ve built emotional connections with them. Creating fresh, new experiences is no easy task.

Mastercard obviously has the resources to make it happen. They’ve leveraged after-hours tour of the Louvre, gorilla encounters in Tanzania and chances to meet celebrities like Ellie Goulding to build emotional connections.

You probably don’t have those resources–but you don’t need Goulding or gorillas to bring experience into your brand. The key is a big idea, a feel for consumer passion points, and good old-fashioned creativity.

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