The Old Brain Calls B.S. to the Phrase “Experiential Marketing”

I had trouble swallowing the phrase “experiential marketing” since the first day I heard it.  We have always referred to what we do here at Pro Motion, Inc. as “event marketing” or “field marketing” or “face-to-face marketing”.  Then, Event Marketer, the leading magazine for our industry, officially blessed it as our industry descriptor and after lots of discussion over a couple of years, I broke down and Pro Motion officially began referring to itself as, “experiential marketers”.  They wore me down… I caved, I’m human o.k.?

I guess this phrase works for all of us agencies that do this kind of work, but for those not familiar with our industry, their eyes roll back into their heads with mention of the words “experiential marketing”.  So when I’m asked at a networking event, “what do you do?” and I reply, “experiential marketing” (and I always have to keep talking due to the look on their face), I continue with, “including sampling, field marketing and event marketing.”  And the conversation ends there unless I begin to give examples, which I always do, and end with some of our clients, “for clients such as CNNDisneyCorona,ModeloEnergizer…”  The deer in the headlights look was common.

The word “experiential marketing” has always bothered me.  Let’s face it – it isn’t a real marketing word.  It’s one of those made-up marketing words like “Retailtainment” which thankfully has lost its luster in the marketing world.  And, until recently, I couldn’t put my finger on why this one word, this phrase “experiential marketing” didn’t sit well with me, until recently.

Apparently, we as humans have three parts to our brain: The New Brain, the Middle Brain and the Old Brain – I’ve always thought of the brain as right or left.  According to Christophe Morin and Patrick Renvoisé of SalesBrain (their website states, “Sales Brain is the ONLY neuromarketing company that offers a simple, rational process to impact the true decision-maker: the Old Brain”).  The Old Brain makes all of our decisions.  Ok, without going neuro on you, let me give you the abridged version; the Old Brain gathers info from the other two areas of the brain and then makes the decisions.  The Old Brain can’t compute made-up words or difficult words, so instead of decision making, it becomes puzzled and tells the ears to stop listening and then all the brain hears is blah, blah, blah… thus, the blank look after the answer to the “what do you do?” question.

So, let’s stop calling what we do for our brands “experiential marketing” and let’s target the Old Brain.  We build brands by creating remarkable experiences in the field by getting face-to-face with consumers and talking to them in such a memorable way that they then purchase your brand and tell others how great your products are.  Simple – it paints a picture and is easy for the Old Brain to comprehend.  We complement all of the messaging on the flat screen including phones, TV’s, computers, etc.  We bring the message to life; we touch consumers through all of their senses.  WE BUILD BRANDS.  WE DO BRAND MARKETING. WE DO IT VIA FACE-TO-FACE.  WE DO FIELD MARKETING.  WE BUILD BRANDS!

Why the made-up words?  I guess because we think it makes us look smart, which according to the Old Brain, it’s not working.