Surround Sound Marketing

Have you tried using all the senses in your marketing?

July 3, 2024


So today's subject is this concept and this phrase that you shared with me that I never heard before, but I absolutely love it. It's called surround sound marketing. So Sharon, talk to us, what is surround sound marketing and how is it different than other forms of marketing? What really separates this and why is it better?

Sharon Bournes

I think that when people think of marketing, they think of ad slicks or an advertisement on TV or on the internet or on the radio or what have you, and they think of it as like a one-shot deal that somebody either hears or sees in a magazine or maybe sends samples to their customers or their prospects rather to see.

But with any person, it takes more than just one touch point to convert them to even considering becoming an evaluator of your product, if you will, if you think about the funnels, like the Salesforce funnels. So when I was involved in marketing when I was younger, it seemed to me that everything was sort of just like a one-off, and that I wasn't feeling like a prospect would really be encouraged to buy something or to try something by just sending them like a promotion in the mail or them seeing an advertisement in a magazine.

My team and I undertook a shift in philosophy called Surround Sound Marketing, which actually one of my mentors shared with me that he was interested in doing as well. He hadn't really been involved in it at the company we were working at together, but had kind of shared with me his thoughts too that we need to be more immersive. With his support and guidance and with the team's guidance, at the time I had a relatively large marketing communications team.

We started to launch products and services at trade shows and different exhibits and events with much more of an immersive experience. So, for example, if we were launching, and I've worked in medical device most of my career, so that's sort of my reference point, but let's say we were launching a dental implant or a dental widget.

We would have at our trade show all kinds of things and ways to immerse the doctors in what it is that we were wanting them to try out. So that could be, you know, if you talk about an immersive experience, you talk about the senses, hearing, seeing, tasting, touching, experiencing. So let's say we're launching product A. At the booth, at the trade show, we would have product A, obviously samples of it. So a doctor could pick it up and touch it. We would have brochures and flyers and materials.

so doctors could see what the product is, pick up a brochure, look at it, et cetera. We would have sound of somebody talking about it on a video screen, so now they're hearing it. And we would even at times add smells to our trade show booth so that the doctors now were experiencing smell, that was a pleasant smell, in association with all this other stuff that they were experiencing or are experiencing with a product.

It's not something that you can do easily all the time because sometimes you launch a product or a service and there is no trade show happening immediately. So my advice is to try to use whatever other immersive experiences you can offer to the doctor or the customer or the prospect without physically being in front of them.

That can be sending them a video via email, sending them promotional items that they can taste, look at, smell, touch, that say the name of your product, that even look like your product. So when you think of surround sound, the reason that that's what I try to call this immersive experience is because when you think of surround sound, it really takes you into the world of whatever it is you're listening to. It's not like one speaker, you know.

Spitting out noise and it's like you may be able to hear it, you may need to put the subtitles on. So with Surround Sound, you're there, you're experiencing it, you're immersed in it, it's part of your experience. And just in summary, you know, with Surround Sound marketing, the whole purpose of it is to give your prospect or your customer who's using, who's purchasing other things that you offer, or just people around you.

The experience of, okay, if you try this product or service, it will be pleasant because everything that you're experiencing surrounding that product or service is essentially a pleasant experience for that individual. And you can do it inexpensively, you can do it on a budget, but just think about you as an individual. Like if I'm stepping into a store.

There's a lot of distraction, there's a lot of noise, there's a lot of other products. What's going to drive me to do something, to take an action? And we are motivated by our senses. So if you think that way and you position it that way as a marketer, you should be more successful in at least making a very significant impact with whatever product or service it is you're looking to get out into the market.


I love that. And I love this concept. I love how you approach it, engaging the senses, getting people immersed in this experience. So if you're looking at, you know, potentially, you know, as a marketer listening to this podcast, and I'm like, I'm soul, I want to try this, I want to, I want to dive in. How do you really figure out the kinds of emotions you're trying to portray and bring out in people? And how do you like translate that like

To the taste into the hearing like what do you do strategically to say? you know not just we're not throwing up music and we're not just handing out chocolates, but like to create the Emotional connection you're actually hoping to achieve. How do you start to think about that?

Sharon Bournes

Well, it's really a question. You first have to identify what is the need that you're solving with your product. Like, are you making somebody happy? Is it something cosmetic that will make people smile and you want them to feel happy? Is it more so that you want them to feel safe? Is it something that they will use that will help them feel free or reckless or healthy? You know, I think when you're considering a surround sound marketing program, you have to understand your product and you have to understand and identify as a group if necessary, what do you want the reaction to be that we're resolving for a customer?

So in other words, if I'm selling you this, Ben, I want the outcome to be that you feel X, Y, or Z, or that you look X, Y, or Z. Once you know that, it becomes very easy. So let me give you an example. I'm selling you something.

That is going to allow you to help your patients, let's say you're a doctor and it's directed to, you know, business to business, that's going to make your patients have a beautiful smile and they're gonna be happy and it's an aesthetic kind of product. Okay, so we're talking aesthetics. So everything needs to be clean, beautiful, pure, white looking, like very, very white and pure, et cetera, or very, full of color but pure color.

sSo it's got to be a pure blue or a pure yellow or a pure red. Not anything that's muddy with a bunch of different images in it, very pure. So everything that you do associated with that product, you're thinking, okay, if it's for teeth, for example, we want it to be white. But if it's just something that's going to make Ben happy and make his smile beautiful, but it's colorful, it's not necessarily white, let's keep it pure colors like a pure purple or a pure green or a pure blue. And then with that, the emotions that you would be experiencing is happiness, right? Because you would experience happiness if you were able to smile and you had a beautiful set of teeth or beautiful gums or beautiful whatever it might be. We're getting rid of wrinkles, we're getting rid of fat, whatever it is. So you want beautiful, happy to be the emotions this person understands is the end result.

Sharon Bournes

And everything that you provide in the meantime needs to look like that. So you want things to be vibrant. You want things to be, to make you feel happy. You know, people are happy with sugar. People are happy with certain sense that, that are pleasant and clean and aesthetic. People like to listen to somebody with a very pleasant, more sophisticated voice, maybe if it's a sophisticated procedure that's going to cost more money.

You know, we launched a product at one point that was exactly what I'm describing, but it wasn't aesthetic. It was just something that we believed would make dentists happy to offer to their patients. And so everything we surrounded them with was pleasing things. There was like bakery smells of things that feel comfortable but also good, you know, and that make you want to eat it or to hold it or what have you. We had music that was light but nice and pleasant that made you feel good. We had samples that looked beautiful and pleasant to the touch and you didn't have to open up cases and mess with clasps and all this stuff. It was just easy, right? We had an easy, you know, everything was simple and easy to access.

So it's not a perfect science and I'm not a psychologist who can tell you what every emotion, what it should translate to. But I just found walking around that booth that day, and since I've been doing this periodically, that your customers, your prospects, they just love it. And if you're talking about direct-to-consumer, you can do the same thing. You can have free samples and things that they can access in places where they would normally go. There's always booths and things at events and such. But when you have your booth when you have your product laid out across the table and you want people who are walking by to take a sample, make sure that everything about you, the product, the colors, the sounds at your table, even smells at your table, are associated with what you're offering. If you're offering something that's for cleaning, make it smell a little bit like sunshine.

You know what I mean? Like it's clean and the colors are yellow and maybe your personality is very bubbly and sort of akin to what you're offering. I guess there's so many ways you could go down this, but I think the primary point is you need to embody what you ultimately want your prospect to feel like when they use your product. And that is more than just giving them a free sample or giving them a free pen or giving them a brochure.

You have to embody it and that's what surrounds sound marketing is, it's the embodiment of everything that you want your customer to walk away with or your prospect to walk away with.


I love that. I have a million different questions because there's so many different areas you could take this and I'm so curious about it. I mean, my mind is racing, you know, virtual events, I can see some really cool opportunities of sending packages and giving people to have immersive experiences from home and even digital. How can you, you know, immerse the senses and things like this. So my mind is just racing with all these cool opportunities.

When you look at it, though, and we only have time for like one more question. These podcasts go by so quick and again this is such a big subject there's so many things to learn here when you look at it do you ever try to have someone feel the pain first and then feel because you know you're talking about what pain are you trying to solve and what do you want them to feel do you ever play with the contrast is that something that you would ever calculate into this.

Sharon Bournes

You know, it's an interesting question. I don't think that people who are feeling pain with a stranger or as they go into an immersive surround sound marketing type experience, I don't know if somebody experiencing the pain of whatever it is would help them sort of transition to, but we're here to solve it kind of thing. The way I've handled that in the past is by letting somebody just talk about it.

Sometimes if you ask a question the right way, you know, they'll come up to a booth or they'll look at your materials and they may be in a perfectly good mood and actually they're not ready for that experience because they just had to get their car fixed or they just took their child to, you know, football practice or they just had a loved one have an emotional problem.

Like people have a lot of things that are happening to them and to get them to truly be immersive is not easy. So one of the things I think that's important is to ask the individuals who come to you, ask them, tell me a little bit about how you handle X.

So let me be more specific. Let's say you are selling something that cleans the floor and you've come up with something that's really out of the box and you want to give someone an immersive experience. Well, that's a negative thing, right? You don't want to spill a bunch of stuff on the floor. I've seen that. It doesn't work. People don't want to be cleaning when they're not, when they don't have to. Cleaning is not always something we want to do. So how do you immerse them in something that's not super pleasant?

So you have this brand new cleaning appliance, let's just say, that cleans spills off the floor amazingly well and you know you've come up with this incredible technology. Somebody comes to you or you're meeting with a prospective customer or prospect and they're like oh that's cool you know I'm gonna that's not super exciting I already have this or that and I don't need it. I would just ask them okay you know they've come to you for a reason they're in front of you for a reason or you're in front of them for a reason.

Ask them about the last time somebody in their family made a huge mess in their house and how did they handle it and what did it feel like to them? Oh well my child spilled you know macaroni all over the floor and it was a huge mess and it was sticky and this and that and let them vent about the experience then they get it out they're not having to experience the pain of having to you know clean the floor again because somebody spilled something but they can vent and they immediately feel closer to you because once you've established that connection and they've had a chance to vent about what are their needs, you can very, and you should be very genuine in saying that your product or service could potentially help them the next time this happens and that you understand that the same thing potentially has happened to you. And that's why you've been inspired to launch this product or service.

I mean, if you think about it, unless you work for a really big corporation, most people who are entrepreneurs or who have small businesses have come up with that because of something they believed needed to be in the world today. So if you're passionate about your product or service and you understand how it can help people and you listen to what people have to say, they will open up to you and you will be more successful as long as your product or service is.

If you're selling something that's like schlocky and nobody wants it then, you know, forget it. But if you have a good product or service, you know, people will give you a chance if you listen to them.


I love that, I love that. And on that note, I think that was a great way to end the episode. Sharon, this has been so interesting, so much to learn, so much for me to think about. Sharon, if anyone wants to connect with you and further the conversation online, how can they find you and reach out?

Sharon Bournes

You know I'm online, you can reach me on LinkedIn, you can drop me a quick message there and I'd be happy to help you if you have a question about something that you're looking to launch, whether it be a product or service. You need just a little bit of advice on how to create an immersive marketing surround sound experience or even if you have other questions about marketing. I've been doing this a while.

It gives me great pleasure to help others with their questions and needs that they might have. And if I can help you, I would love to.


Love it, love it. Thank you so much again. Appreciate your time. Have a wonderful day and thanks for sharing everything.

Sharon Bournes

Alright, thanks Ben.

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