AMA CEO Russ Klein tells marketers to put experience design over storytelling ‘addiction’

The American Marketing Association exec rewrites one of marketing's four Ps and breaks down the elements of a "minimum loveable product"

When asks brands which organization has demonstrated the most intentional in approaching experience design, American Marketing Association CEO Russ Klein already knows the answers most business professionals will give him.

Apple. Disney. Amazon.

Klein would suggest looking back a bit further in history.

About 27,000 years back.

In his opening keynote at the AMA’s Experience Design virtual event on Tuesday, Klein suggested that the dawn of organized religion hit upon an approach that many companies would do well to study — and whose lessons they could apply — today.

“The five sense are all tweaked when it comes to a religious experience,” Klein said. It’s not only emotional but something you see (with) the use of light, the use of negative space, the use of sounds with the choir, the organ. There are the smells of the candles, the incense. It’s not an accident.”

This results not only in “brand loyalty” on the part of believers but physical behaviours, Klein noted, from genuflecting in a church to sitting in a confessional. These rituals are a source of meaning, and as such are powerful indicators of experience design done right.

Unfortunately, Klein said, too many brands have neglected experience design in favour of superficial content marketing, hoping a compelling narrative will distract attention from poor CX.

“Marketers have an addiction to storytelling. I don’t say this as a critic. I’m a fan of storytelling and I think it’s a very important craft and skill,” he said. “Unfortunately it’s so fun, that storytelling aspect of our job, that people lean on it as a crutch. The advent of content marketing has just put the needle in deeper.”

All the AMA event sessions are available on demand, but subscribe or log in if you wan to save time and learn:

  • The “dirt paths” brands need to recognize to start their experience design journey
  • Klein’s rewrite of marketing’s fourth ‘P’
  • Definitions of “usability” and “customer engagement that could put organizations on the same page as their customers.

Your Minimum Loveable Product

Klein has created an algorithm or formula of sorts that helps make it easier to remember his thinking on experience design: a brand equals

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