The Experiential Learning Cycle is based on a theory created by David Kolb. Kolb theorized that there is a four-step process that most effectively promotes learning: concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation. An easy way to engage in this is after participating in an experience ask yourself “what, so what, now what?”
If, for example, you just took a twenty minute walk; fact find. What did you see, are you winded, how far did you walk, what thoughts did you have, etc. That’s the what, then comes the so what. What relevance could any of these things have outside of the walk? Did you find that one walk around the block exhausted you? That might mean you’re not as in shape as you could be. Did you see that a scary looking man on the block? Maybe that means more murderers are moving into the neighborhood, or there is a play about a scary man being performed that night and he’s just in costume. Finally, the now what! If you’re not as in shape as you should be maybe you should consider walking more frequently. If there are scary people moving into your town you should consider getting a dead bolt. If it’s a play, then maybe you’ll want to buy tickets. If you consciously take these steps after your activities, you will undoubtedly extract more learning and insight from your life.
This theory provides a tremendous opportunity for marketers and brand managers as well. In fact, there are several agencies, like Jack Morton Worldwide, that focus on building experience brands. If marketers create and control the experience that consumers have they need to make sure this experience transcends just one moment. They can do this by enforcing the what, so what, and the now what. This involves either creating such a strong experience that consumers are motivated enough tofollow this process on their own, or implementing a follow-up process. I recommend a combination of both.
In these cases the “what” would be consumers evaluating what they just went through. Did they enjoy the experience, was it confusing? The “so what” would be the decisions of whether or not the experience was relevant to their life, did it make it better for the time being, did it present a solution for one of their needs? And the “now what” would, hopefully, be the call to action. Companies and agencies alike should strive to have their consumers go through these steps after every interaction. This will create the relationships between brands and consumers that help create strong and meaningful brands.