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Creating Insight-Driven Experiences to Build Brands What does your audience really want? That's what you need to find out.

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A buzz-worthy and breakthrough ad campaign can seem like pure magic, belying the rigor behind the concept's creation: Account planners and strategists have already thoroughly mined the psyches of their target audience to unearth insights. And creative team members have incorporated these insights as the foundation that informs their ideas.

Related: 5 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Use Emotional Intelligence for Marketing

However, this same level of rigor doesn't always extend to other marketing disciplines: Many brands and agencies spend considerable time and energy thinking through the "experience" they want to create without giving equal weight to the experience their consumers want to have.

Tapping consumer insights, then, can create the experience that truly feels like that magical moment of kismet, adding dimension to the brand and bringing it to life in a way no other medium can.

Right time, right place

When you design a live experience, the key drivers you use may include sales cycles, campaign calendars and launches of new initiatives or products. Certainly these are all important considerations, but it's critical to also factor in when and where your consumers will be most receptive for engagement with your product or servce.

Are they rushing from place to place (think: a busy mom at the grocery store) or will they have dwell time? Also, are you providing something of value? The concerns you have to solve may be tangible, such as the consumer's access to an exclusive location, experience or person. Or your concerns may be intangible, such as the enhanced social status implicit in the brand -- or just the really great story that's needed to sell it.

Spending time in your consumers' shoes will inform the right strategy to address these concerns.

Related: 5 Ways Data Can Enhance Marketing Campaigns

Details, details, details

We are multi-sensory beings, and experiences that engage our senses on multiple levels are simply more interesting and memorable. Many brands regularly invest in ethnographic research and other data points to paint a detailed and rich picture of their target audience -- down to what they wear; how they decorate their homes; and what they would choose as their favorite food, music, hobbies and vacation spots.

This is all helpful fodder to inform the creation of an experience that feels authentic and resonates deeply -- from the design of its environment and decor, to refreshments and music, to digital engagements. For audiences, walking into an experience that reflects their own tastes (or the taste they aspire to) is like meeting a person they instantly click with.

And the moment of recognition that results is compelling, emotional and memorable. A great experience tells your audience everything they need to know about your brand that can't be conveyed solely in words, while providing them the tools they need to authentically share it with others.

Igniting conversation

Brands invest in creating live experiences because they do far more than just engage the people in the room. The advent of social media has made the reach of any experience seemingly unlimited. But, in fact, igniting conversation requires much more than a clever hashtag.

Depending on the demographics and psychographics of your target-audience members, the drivers that will prompt them to amplify their experience can be dramatically different; the same can be said of the channels they choose.

With all the data readily available, understanding how to authentically bake social-sharing drivers into your consumers' experience in a way that resonates with them is right at your fingertips. There's simply no excuse for not getting it right.

Raja Rajamannar, CMO of MasterCard, has expressed these ideas in a memorable way, stating that, "People are hungry for unforgettable experiences."

So, what is "unforgettable"? That depends on the audience being targeted. And understanding what that means for your brand is a critical component to ensuring that the experience you create truly hits the mark.

Related: How to Build a Social-Media Strategy That Works

Gabrey Means & Cassie Hughes

Co-Founders, Grow Marketing

Gabrey Means and Cassie Hughes are the co-founders of Grow Marketing, an experiential marketing agency headquartered in San Francisco. Means serves as the creative director and Hughes is the strategy director.

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