Today we live in an experience-driven economy where some people are choosing connections over possessions and letting their hearts drive brand loyalty. It's a behavior shift that's forcing companies to rethink the way they engage and nurture their customers. And it's the motivation behind experience-based businesses.
Experience-based businesses make their customer's journey a focal point. They prioritize memories over processes and let the experiences take the lead over their products as their main selling point.
From outstanding customer service to in-person events and online communities, experience-based businesses offer a lot of lessons for businesses of all sizes. Here are a few things to keep in mind before venturing into the experience economy.
1. Recognize that customer service matters.
Experience-based businesses aren't new. Companies like have been operating under this model for years: Every interaction and every purchase is designed to make customers feel welcomed and taken care.
Even though companies' offerings may be different, the feelings are the same—memorable customer service keeps customers coming back for more.
For example, the staff at some of the poshest hotels and high-end department stores are trained to greet every guest and seek out ways to be accommodating, whether that's simply saying "hello" when passing by or offering to show you around. These companies make it a point to make sure your needs are met.
2. Develop creative marketing strategies.
Rather than focusing on selling a product, experience-based businesses use strategies that place their audience and their values at the center of their marketing strategy. Two examples of brands that have done this well are Dunkin' and Refinery29.
Dunkin', whose tagline is America runs on Dunkin', developed a tiny home powered entirely by biofuel made from their coffee grounds and put it on display in New York City.
This display tapped into the millennial trend of tiny homes and leveraged an omnichannel strategy that included TV spots, social activations, celebrity partnerships, earned media and an in-person event where people could tour the home. The campaign resonated with the company's core audience in a creative way while subtly promoting their product, coffee.
Having a clear understanding of your company values and your target audience and their needs is the first step in creating authentic and meaningful experiences that lead to engaged and committed customers.
The millennial women's digital media company Refinery29 is another good example of smart marketing. The media company created 29Rooms, a fully immersive experience that brings their content to life in what the company calls a “funhouse of style, culture and creativity." Through this pop-up event, Refinery has created a space where their online audience can come together in real life to continue the conversation they're having online about culture and creativity.
3. Create connections in person.
Experience-based businesses aren't just popping up at B2C companies; B2B companies are converting, too.
Software companies hold events and conferences around the world with the goal of bringing their customers, partners and employees together and generating buzz about their offerings.
What if you can't afford to host a conference (or build a tiny house)? Is it still possible to incorporate some of these experience-based strategies into your business?
Experiences don't have to be big or expensive to get your customers interested. They just have to be meaningful.
4. Build experiences that solve a problem.
When my husband and I created our brand MORE two years ago, our goal was to solve a problem.
The work-life balance problem.
Our research showed that working parents—working mothers in particular—were having a hard time doing it all. They were longing for more opportunities to grow personally and professionally without having to sacrifice time with their kids and spouse.
So we created a series of experiences that would bring the two together. From a family-inclusive business retreat to our signature family-friendly happy hours "Milk. Beer. Wine." to monthly pop-up photo shoots, MORE is an experience-based business designed around the needs of our target audience and their families.
5. Offer a seamless experience in-person and online.
In addition to in-person experiences, experience-based businesses realize that connections don't just happen in person. They need to continue online. Whether that be through engaging social media accounts, community forums, messenger bots or a robust online store, staying connected is important.
For example, consider online mattress companies. Several got their started online and then ventured into brick-and-mortar stores.
Both have mastered the art of creating exceptional experiences online that then transition to in-person experiences: Quick responses. Great customer service. A fantastic product presentation (the emphasis on the rolled-up mattresses in boxes).
These all make for memorable experiences.
At the core of each of these experience-based businesses, you'll find one consistent theme: customer focus. Having a clear understanding of your company values and your target audience and their needs is the first step in creating authentic and meaningful experiences that lead to engaged and committed customers.
Read more articles on getting customers.
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