Benish Shah, Senior Director, Head of Marketing at Refinery 29, spoke at the recent Digital Summit LA conference on the fundamentals of effective marketing. A couple of us fortunate AYC Media staff happily attended and eagerly jotted notes as Shah, clad in an all-black new york chic ensemble shared her expertise with the crowd. Her talk emphasized the importance of both ease and aesthetics, reminding us that user experience should not only be seamless and stress free, but should also evoke a positive feeling for the consumer, or as she says, “every user experience should be delightful.”
She highlighted the need to see the formulation of a product or service as the genesis of it’s marketing efforts. In other words, your marketing strategy begins with the quality of whatever it is you are selling. She states that many marketing maneuvers fail because marketing is seen as a separate department to be involved at a later stage of development, and for this reason it hasn’t been interwoven into the very fabric of the product or service itself. She shows us that this myopia often lends to final products lacking in character and functionality. Once consumers experience the folly in the contraption or interaction they will move on to something else that gets it right.
Shah enthusiastically walked us through an experience of her own brand loyalty. She referenced how logging her expenses in Expensify, known for “expense reports that don’t suck,” transformed a tedious and overwhelming process into a welcome task she’ll make room for in her day. Her experience with the brand is so positive that she’s advocated on it’s behalf on many an occasion. And even made time in her busy work schedule to convince the proper decision maker to make the switch to Expensify. This, she says, is marketing at it’s finest.
What Expensify has created with Shah is not only sales, but also a loyal follower and advocate of the brand. They didn’t offer yet another tracking system. Instead they transformed a dull and daunting process into something easy and pleasant. They saw a need and fulfilled it. And as a result they fostered a relationship grounded in loyalty, gratitude and support. This relationship shaped Shah to become an avid Expensify promoter. Her enthusiasm, just this Wednesday was so great, that she made it a point to share this “delightful” experience with a room full of 1,000 Digital Summit attendees. Some of who will surely inquire into the company that makes expense reports less sucky.
The biggest takeaway from Shah’s message was the power that brands have to cultivate enduring relationships with consumers by creating intuitive and delightful experiences that enhance their daily lives. She accentuated that for a product or service to fulfill it’s marketing potential it should meet three specifications. It should be: 1. Delightful 2. Shareable 3. Marketable. And in order to achieve the aforementioned attributes brands should focus their efforts on the merging of functionality and character. For it is at this intersection that exceptional user experiences are generated, nurtured and proliferated.