What Experience Are You Creating?

Somewhere along the line some marketer coined the term “point of difference” when advising companies how to stand out and we’ve been running with it ever since. We hear it at every turn – in order to attract customers SMB owners need to establish a POD and what separates them from their competitors out selling similar services. They need to find what makes them unique. Some call it an angle. To me, it’s always been about creating experiences that customers will remember, want to talk about and remain loyal to. It’s about creating something that stands out and has meaning.

For example:

  • Kellogg’s is creating memorable experiences by etching their logo onto each one of their cornflakes. Imagine seeing that the next time you scoop up a spoonful.
  • Zappos creates experiences by using customer service to deliver WOW effects. They’ve created a model that small business owners everywhere are trying to replicate.
  • Southwest sets itself apart by refusing to charge people to check bags or even assign seats. Whether you love or hate the latter (I hate it), it’s creates a unique experience.
  • Chris Brogan wrote about Griffin, a company that restored an old van before driving it cross country to CES to park in their booth. A much different experience than renting a car and driving it and it got people talking.

Focusing your marketing efforts on creating experiences does two things. First, it creates a story around your brand for your customers to share. We all know that word of mouth is the most powerful marketing device out there, but how often do we actively give people something to talk about? If you want them to tell their friends, you have to give them something to share. Even if that something isn’t tangible.

Creating experiences also helps foster a sense of community with your brand and gives customers a reason to keep coming back. People want to feel a certain way and if you associate your brand with what they’re looking for, they’ll respond to that. There was an interesting article on AdAge last week that noted that 78 percent of consumers choose brands based on their aspirations and how well they align with their own personal values. Customers seek out brands that represent who they want to be and then they become loyal to them. Think of Apple. Or Nike. Or even Starbucks.
When you think of these brands you get a very clear picture of their customers. That’s no accident.

How are experiences created?

  • By playing on emotion and making interactions as personal as possible.
  • By nurturing the values that YOU stand for. Don’t worry, you’ll naturally find the customers who are equally passionate about the same things.
  • Being interesting. Doing the same as everyone else doesn’t create an experience, it creates a ‘me too’. No one remembers who came in second. Etching your logo on individual corn flakes? Crazy!
  • Knowing what’s important to your customer and finding the intersection in your brand.
  • Finding ways to become part of their daily life.
  • Giving customers something to take with them, even if it’s just a smile.

You know you want your customers to talk about you, butwhat do you want them to say? What steps have you taken to build experience-making into your marketing strategy and the way you do business? After all, if you want people to spread your buzz, you have to give them something to share.

Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.