experience as message

Framing marketing communications in terms of experience opens up new opportunities for engaging your audience. Our Be in Bellingham campaign is one example of this thinking at work; another is a thank you promotion we recently completed for Shew Design.


The purpose of the project was to say thanks to clients and collaborators in a fun, memorable way. We wanted to avoid a traditional gift certificate because we thought the results would be treated as a replacement for money and would become just another transaction among many.

Instead, we framed the gift certificate in terms of audience experience. Creating a great experience begins with giving people something they like; we chose three perennial crowd pleasers: beer, chocolate, coffee.


Then we found local sources that provided high quality versions of those things in a fun way. For example: We think the Black Drop is the best local coffee source to be found, and we made one of our thank you messages a Black Drop experience. This would be: two coffee beverages of their choice and a pastry, requiring – in essence – a visit with a friend over coffee. You wouldn’t use the certificate for just another coffee on the go.


In essence, the coupon mandates an experience, pleasantly guiding the audience into pausing, having a conversation while making their inner child happy by being able to pick anything on the menu from Bellingham’s best coffee shop without cost. The letterpressed card that provides the experience says that the audience – like the coffee they’re about to consume – is energizing.

Feelings and experiences – not things – are the subject the message.

By creating a trio of cards for different local businesses, we made it possible for our clients to journey from one location to another by foot – enjoying high quality, beer, chocolate, coffee in whatever order or speed they chose. DIY date night.

The process of framing the interaction in terms of personal experience provided an interesting departure from the customary gift certificate without significantly impacting the cost or process. The difference was thinking of the audience’s experience early in the process and having that guide every decision after.

Would your organization benefit from thinking of marketing interactions in this way? An outside perspective may help you reach a new potential in how you build connections with your audience. Contact us to start a dialog about how we can help you find fresh ways of creating engagement, using experience as message.

Eric Shew is a graphic designer and front end developer living in Bellingham, Washington.

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115 West Magnolia, Suite 210
Bellingham, WA 98225

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