Marketing has nothing to do with products or services. Somebody has to say this.

Proven marketing strategies show time and time again that your sales and advertising ROI hinge predominately on the experience of a product. Not the product itself.

The experience angle of marketing creates a slippery slope for small business owners. As you work in the nitty-gritty of product development, the difference between presentation and experience is cloudy at best.

Don’t fret—there is a bulletproof way to know that you’re highlighting the experiential elements. Marketing stories provide you with a guiding light. Look no further than your local record store.

That dusty old place many think stands on the brink of closing most likely rakes in big bucks. The audience who buys records is not anti-technology, nor are they searching for vintage material to up-level their apartment’s cool factor.

The vinyl industry thrives, resulting in millions of sales each year—and that’s because the audience seeks an experience, not so much a product. Even though it’s a thousand times easier to play your favorite tunes at the cost of listening to a few advertisements, many consumers opt for a more expensive, less convenient method.

Yes, vinyl is outdated and the music industry itself no longer makes the truckload of cash it once did, though records fly off the shelf. As small business owners, we’d be wise to observe how and why this phenomenon takes place.

Furthermore, we can rip a few pages out of the vinyl industry’s highly sophisticated marketing playbook.

The Vinyl Industry Understands Why their Customer Buys

There’s a reason why vinyl sales rose 52% in 2015, and that’s because of how the customer avatar enjoys music. To the people who purchase records, music is not background noise so much as it’s a way to enhance their lives. In this way, vinyl is simply a means to an end.

Records create an atmosphere that exists based solely on the product experience (in this case, sound). Those who opt for streaming services often use music as an accompaniment while taking a walk or doing dishes. Music curbs boredom, but does not enrich their lives in a profound way.

Vinyl hounds think of music as an escape and/or an emotional awakening. Often, these musical purists are deemed nostalgic or vintage (read: hipster). While there may be a droplet of truth in that, there’s something else at play.

As they listen, they connect the soundscape with their own lives. It’s a cathartic and rejuvenating experience. And so they’ll pay a little more.

If you’re lucky enough to sell a product that people care about, it’s important to know why your customer buys. No matter if you sell software or ice cream, there is an experiential factor at play.

How You Can Transform The Experience Over Product/Service

Our client, Red Dragon Muscle Rub, understands how and why their customers buy their product.

They offer a product that allows athletes to alleviate muscle soreness, joint pain, and arthritis, so it would be a natural fit for sports enthusiasts to buy. However, the customer psychology goes deeper than that. After years of training athletes, founder Adam Combs understood why they needed a product that would provide proactive pain relief.

He’d seen athletes succumb to preventable injuries that removed them from the activities they loved. So he invented a product that not only provided pain relief, but empowered athletes to continue their practice of sports for the long haul.

Curbing physical pain is not the reason people buy—it’s to prevent the emotional pain of missing out. There’s a major difference there.

Red Dragon’s customers don’t buy a product—they buy the opportunity to enjoy their life and pursue their interests.

To leverage the buyer persona strategy that the vinyl industry and Red Dragon Muscle Rub uses, think about why you invented your product.

Consider both the short and long term benefits of product use.

  1. What kind of experience does your service create?
  2. What struggle does it prevent?

Once you have that answer, you’ll be able to leverage a marketing strategy that coincides with vinyl’s success.

Convenience Is a Feature, Not a Selling Point

It’s easy to chalk up vinyl’s persistent success to digital downloads that often come with several new release purchases.

While convenience is a worthwhile feature, it in no way represents the unique selling proposition. The vinyl resurgence happened because the moment the needle hits an LP, listeners create an escapist atmosphere. Convenience is not a direct part of that equation. It’s a side benefit.

When you market your product, it’s easy to fall into a trap. That trap is confusing a benefit and a bonus. This happens when the marketing doesn’t reference the real reason why customers purchase products.

Our client Everyday Gourmet understands the difference between a bonus feature and a reason to buy.

The company provides culinary services in the form of business lunch deliveries, dinner parties, art openings, baby showers, event fundraisers, graduations, birthday shindigs, weddings, and black tie gatherings.

However, the food itself is a bonus feature.

Wait, how can the product itself be only a feature?

While the dishes embody true quality, Everyday Gourmet offers people a successful event. They allow busy hosts to put on a fun and elegant get-together without stress and doubt. They offer satisfied guests and wonderful memories. The food is an added bonus.

How You Can Tell the Difference

For small business owners who want to capitalize on vinyl’s marketing strategy, the first step is to look at your website and landing pages.

How do you present the product to the prospect? If you’re not showing them the big picture, then you’re missing out.

  • No one buys just a ring—they buy an expression of love.
  • No one takes a friend to a coffee shop for a caffeine jolt—they buy a conversation.
  • No one buys a ticket to a dance club—they buy an evening of fun and self-expression.

The real benefit often comes disguised as an aside, and by extension, the marketing message reverses itself. Vinyl understands this, and so should you.