This blog is modified from a Forbes article. You can read the original here.
In the spring of 2014, I did what so many parents do: I took my family to Disney World. We got to experience the sights and sounds that make Magic Kingdom so, well, magical. As I reflect on that experience, three moments stick out:
The first moment that comes to mind is successfully getting a family picture with Cinderella's castle in the background. The second moment was seeing my son, who was a toddler, try to feed a giraffe off the hotel balcony. Finally, I’ll never forget the moment when I whispered in his ear and said, “You can become anything in life if you simply believe,” as fireworks exploded overhead. (Those tears were real.)
In all, I spent 14 hours and hundreds of dollars to build that magical day, of which I fondly recall about nine minutes. What happened during the other 13 hours and 51 minutes of that day? I spent time and money that felt right in the moment, so why don’t those moments register, too?
I believe the answer goes back to what Chip Heath described in his book The Power of Moments as “peak moments.” The peak moments of our trip were designed by Disney to capture my attention and tap into my emotions. Through moments like these, Disney drives brand preference.
Peak moments work, but they can also be expensive and difficult to create. No brand, not even Disney, can create an experience that is all peak moments. It’s in the small, seemingly less memorable “valley moments” that we also find opportunities to elevate our brand experience.
As the founder of a behavioral design consultancy, I’ve seen that experiences are often designed around peak moments when we are highly emotional and, in turn, more susceptible to influence. I coined the term “mindstates” in my book to help describe these moments. However, this approach can be expensive and is somewhat risky. After all, if the moment doesn’t resonate with your customer, it will be a costly miss for your brand.
And now more than ever, customers aren’t experiencing peak moments. They’re trying to pull themselves out of the valley.
This is where experience design comes in to help you design around valley moments; this is a more holistic approach where the valleys and peaks are created to build on one another. You’re building around a psychological strategy. Yes, you should still design for peak moments in your brand experience, but, from my perspective, you shouldn’t rely on those moments alone. By also building your experience around a few valley moments, it’ll raise the water level across the board.
Let’s look at how you can get started.
Taking A New Approach To Content And Experience Design
To get started, remember that you’re designing for the mindstate you want people to have and not for the people themselves. Every day, our attitudes and beliefs shift. Design for people, and I believe your experience is more likely to miss. Building around how you want your audience to feel gives you a clearer path forward.
I found there are 18 mindstates, each comprised of two factors: The first is motivation, such as achievement, autonomy, belonging, competence, empowerment, engagement, esteem, nurturance or security; the second factor is a regulatory approach, such as an optimistic person striving for success or being cautious and trying to avoid failure.
To elevate the valley moments of your experience regardless of the mindstate, here are three steps to get started:
- Find your valley: Observe when people look mindless or without much consideration in their actions. Are they contemplating or simply going through the motions? Focus here.
- Give them a lift: To break them from mindlessness, ideate ways to shock them out of it. Can you do something unexpected to snap them out of this valley?
- Show off: If you took over a valley and elevated it with something more exciting and unexpected, make sure you get credit for it. Don’t worry about psychology; be direct and show your customers you are the reason behind this new experience.
Putting It All Together
To illustrate this, let’s consider the example of designing a 5K race for those in the “optimistic achievement” mindstate. A 5K has obvious peak moments, such as the rush you get when starting the race and the thrill of crossing the finish line. But in between the start and finish, you could get tired or feel discouraged; these are the valleys.
To cater to these valleys, you might place signs along the course to remind participants of how much time, sweat, and effort they’ve put into the race already. You’re encouraging them not to give up because they’ve already invested so much into the race.
I’ve found that people in this mindstate push themselves to overcome obstacles on the way to achieving their goal. You could tap into this competitive fire by putting a race bib on the back of each racer to challenge those from behind with messages, like “Come on — you can’t let me beat you!” or “Keep pushing — aren’t you tired of staring at this bib?”
With optimistic achievers, you want to find ways to help them set firm, distinct goals, and recognize moments of success. Before the race, you could prompt racers to set a goal for their finish time and break that down into smaller goals that will keep them on track. During the race, by setting up timers at strategic points, it would allow them to make sure they’re hitting those milestones and inspire them to keep pushing toward the finish line.
You can apply a mindstate-based approach to any experience your brand creates: a concert, service call, a customer care call, and more. Simply identify the mindstate you want to build the experience for, find a few valleys, and take steps to design around them. When done right, I believe you can make the experience with your brand more memorable and enjoyable for consumers.
If you’re not sure how to do it right, sign up for an upcoming Mindstate Marketing Workshop. You’ll virtually work alongside Mindstate Marketing experts who will teach you how to develop, execute, and evaluate a content strategy based on behavioral science.