This question is on my mind this week for a number of reasons. The first, of course, is that two of the biggest marketing/technology #MustAttend events in the world happened this week in Austin and Vancouver. In Vancouver, a few thousand basked at TED in the celebrity light of each other and listened to how the world will/can change. And, of course, in Austin, tens of thousands of people descended upon SxSW to sign up for Meerkat and strap on all manner of wearable tech.
But I also find myself on a bit of a conference road stretch. I write this from Changi Airport, coming home from speaking at Content Marketing World Sydney and Singapore – and then heading off to (yes, it’s finally here) Intelligent Content in San Francisco next week.
So, I’ve been asking around – to conference organizers, people attending conferences, speakers, etc…
Why do you go to conferences? Especially when the content can usually be had without going.
The answers, in varying degree, come down to these:
- The boss told me to go so that we can be better prepared.
- I might get some professional advantage over the competition.
- I want to get better at X skill.
- It looks “interesting/fun/awesome/etc.”
Since all of those answers have to do with the content (and not that fact that it’s presented at a physical event), what is driving the thirst for compelling experiences? I wonder if the unspoken answer is FOMO.
Fear of missing out.
In 2013, the Oxford English Dictionary added 65 words, including “selfie” and “twerk” (yes, really) to its approved lexicon. It also added FOMO. Researchers found that 70% of Millennials have this irrational fear – and it’s a primary driver for their desire for new and compelling experiences.
But it’s not only Millennials and FOMO that are driving the demand for compelling experiences over products. In another 2013 study of more than 1,000 adults in the U.S. and the U.K., researchers found that in today’s “constantly connected” world, people crave sensory experiences over products. In fact, this study found that 81% of Millennials, 79% of Gen Xers, and 78% of Baby Boomers value experiences more than they do material items.
Even further, I wonder if it’s a case of the anticipation of the event content rather than its ultimate delivery. Another study found that experiences trump material purchases because the value of the content actually starts to accrue before you consume it. The study actually found that “waiting for an experience apparently elicits more happiness and excitement than waiting for a material good.”
What does any of this have to do with content and marketing?
Here’s the thing. The successful business content approach of tomorrow is going to have to merge many content types. This includes, of course, the capture of physical events (in the form of video, photos, audio). And as digital and physical experiences merge, there will, increasingly, be the need for marketers to figure out physical experiences to accompany all this digital content they are creating. An important question will be how will we, as content practitioners, apply the lessons of creating powerful content experiences to the physical experiences that our business creates?
We’d better start getting good at it fast. Or, you know, we may miss out.
Hope to see you next week in San Francisco.
This post originally appears on LinkedIn.