Experience Based Interaction
Leads to Profits
No matter your business type, when you can connect with your customers in a unique way, you win.
One of the most interesting parts of modern business is the struggle between consistency and creativity in developing a successful business model. On the "consistency" side of the argument, you have the tried and true "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mantra. That, when coupled with the consumer's need for uniformity in quality, service and fulfillment of expectations creates a strong case for consistency in business operations.
Creativity in products, services, market recognition, application of technology and other business techniques allows a business to grow potential markets, increase profitability and potentially decrease expenses. Creative businesses that are willing to commit to innovation consistently reinvent themselves to promote longevity and profitability.
Which approach is right? Both are! And, both consistency and creativity are necessary in executing experience based marketing strategies. You may know the value of your products or services. Your consistency in approach allows you to hone your skill set to provide something truly special to your consuming public, but does your consuming public recognize the value of the products or services you are providing? Creative businesses are often on the cutting edge of trends in products, services and technology, but do your customers recognize your innovation as valuable? Because we tend to view our businesses from the inside out instead of the outside in, we sometimes fail to provide customers with the experiences necessary to recognize value. Without recognition of value, customers lack loyalty and may change goods or service providers at will.
Below are a few examples of how experienced based consumer interactions can help you build customer loyalty and drive sales:
1. Host a class- This is the easiest form of experience based marketing. Most of you have a skill or product knowledge that the general community does not possess. Most of you also know your target market. When you put those two things together in a class format, you create an atmosphere where the consumer simultaneously gains value while absorbing your marketing message. Studio 11 currently does a great job of hosting classes where they show how to use products. Browns Shoe's has held "shoe fittings" with special equipment designed for optimum fit (as they describe their expertise). Accountants can hold "what's new in Quickbooks" classes to reconnect with customers (and make their lives easier). Computer Techs can host "how the heck do you use Window's 8" classes while they promote their hardware and repair services. Restaurants can host cooking classes on off nights. People that sell kitchen equipment can host local restaurateurs to showcase new technology that makes their kitchen more efficient… I could go on, but hosting a class often makes your consumer drop their guard and it's a great way to generate "word of mouth" advertising.
2. Donate your skill set (with an explanation)- Do you have a market you are trying to penetrate? Are you a clothier trying to pin down an upper end market? Are you a restaurant trying to get more families to visit your location? Are you an attorney trying to develop your client base? Sometimes you can leverage new customers by donating a skill or product. School fundraisers in partnership with your business can expose you to a specific demographic. Donating a free review of bylaws to an organization with an oral report following can expose an organization to your legal firm. Holding a "how to dress" fashion show for a ladies group may boost your name recognition amongst a target market.
3. Become the entertainment- Years ago, I used to wrap gifts. A LOT of gifts, and after I became well practiced, I noticed that children would stand perfectly still and watch me wrap. Some kids would actually request to come into the store where I worked because they loved the wrapping (and would occasionally participate). Persimmon Forge has created wonderful metal art pieces in front of an adoring public, and everyone has seen the classic pizza maker throwing dough high into the air (and hopefully catching it). When the consuming public is exposed to entertainment that they aren't necessarily expecting, it enhances their experience and differentiates your business from your competition (that's a good thing).
4. Record and share testimonials- When you create great experiences for your consuming public, please share them! When customers share the fact that THEY think you created a great experience, PLEASE share that! People understand that businesses need to "sell themselves". But, when the "general public" is doing the selling, people often attribute more weight to the layman's words.
5. Be a tour guide- Sometimes customers don't understand the value of a business simply because they don't see everything within the business. You can offer a special experience to good customers simply by opening up "the bat cave". Without divulging any trade secrets, it's sometimes a good idea to walk customers through the bull-pen, storage room, call center or other nooks and crannies as you tell the story of your business. A special "behind the scenes" look at your business is often pretty simple, but it is uncommon enough that it creates a unique experience that generates consumer loyalty.
6. Create urgency- On our honeymoon, my wife and I were strolling around a little downtown when we noticed a count-down clock with several people standing around. I asked one of the people standing in the crowd "what's going on?" The crowd member explained "this place makes great fudge, and the clock shows when the fudge is ready, so everyone lines up as the clock is winding down to get a shot at fresh warm fudge!" I'm sure my wife was thinking "yum, warm fudge!" I, being a business nerd, was thinking "wow, they turn their inventory as soon as it's produced and their customers are excited to help them do it…" Most businesses are seasonal, and most can create their own "count-down clocks". Retailers can count down to holidays like Mother's Day, Christmas and Valentines Day. Hair Stylists can count down to Prom, Graduation or "date night". Think about how you can adapt the concept to your business to create more traffic.
Consistency or creativity? They both play an important role in today's modern business world. We must find new ways to connect and add value to our consuming public. Set some time with your staff or with economic development professionals to identify your target market and find new ways to reach out to them. By creating unique experiences that back up your consistent approach, you can both maintain your existing customers and grow new markets. Need some help? Emporia Main Street can assist in providing your business or organization the some ideas and potential resources to execute your plan!