When people buy brands, they’re usually paying for something more than a core product or service.

For example, they don't really pay for the liquid inside a shampoo bottle; they pay for beautiful hair, and for the confidence which that brings.

Ultimately, people pay for benefits; products and services are simply a means to an end.

The most successful brands understand that broader, benefit-led marketing allows them to extend their impact beyond core products and services to deliver ‘augmented’ offerings that create far greater value to both them and their audiences.

This approach applies to brands across almost all categories:

  • Nike sees large-scale participative events like its We Run races as core revenue streams in their own right, not just activities designed to increase sales of the brand’s apparel.
  • Apple’s App Stores and iTunes Store move the brand from a manufacturer to a lifestyle brand whose impact extends well beyond the technology sector.
  • Madonna purportedly earns more money from concert ticket and merchandise sales than she does from album sales.
  • Red Bull has gone so far as to reposition itself as a ‘media and experiences company’, using its ‘extreme stimulation’ proposition to extend the brand’s offering well beyond its heritage of energy drinks.
  • American Express doesn't just offer payment services to its merchants; it uses activities like its OPEN forum and Small Business Saturday initiatives to become an overall 'partner in success'.

It's clear to see why this approach works: augmented experiences offer people something more than a mere means to an end, and as a result, they succeed in delivering a differentiated value proposition that people are willing to pay more for.

Moreover, these experiences are inherently more 'social' than simple products and services too - it's easier for people to share an experience than it is for them to share most products.

Critically, there are also more compelling reasons for people to talk about great experiences than there are for them to recommend specific products.

As a result, augmented experiences can inspire a social media impact that extends well beyond the reach of customer reviews or the brand's own social media posts.

So, when it comes to your brand’s social media, don’t just think about how you’ll drive greater engagement with your own social media posts; use augmented experiences to inspire organic audience conversations, and become a brand that’s always worth talking about.

Read more in the Social Brands series by clicking here.