Teri-Slavik-Tsuyuki was chief marketing officer for Newland Communities and is the principal of Tst Ink, a marketing strategy and experience design firm.
Much is being written today about the “experience economy” and how important it is to create opportunities for customers to connect with your brand. But does this really matter? How do you apply it? The shift can be traced back to the impact of digital technology on how you communicate with customers.
When the internet took over our lives, the world changed. In the past, businesses could simply push out promotional messages to customers who passively received them. Now customers have the tools at their fingertips to do their own research on your company and competitors—and they use them. Overnight customers became smarter than the businesses trying to reach them.
Around the same time, technology began leveling the playing field more than ever in most industries, including remodeling. No one likes to admit it, but products have become commodities that can be copied. As technology continues to advance and product proliferation increases, the differences between products become harder and harder to distinguish. Your ability to compete on product alone is gone.
The old model of telling a story to a customer: “We sell ______. They are made of the finest _____. Want to buy one?” doesn’t work anymore. If you are still doing this, take note! With more control at their fingertips, your customers are not as quick to believe subtle differences between what you offer versus a competitor’s product or service. In a market of more choices than ever, too much seems too much the same. But great customer experiences can help you rise above the tide. Let me illustrate.
Think about that new restaurant you and a friend tried for the first time two weeks ago. I bet you can’t recall what the cost of your meal was. To the restaurant owner, that’s the transaction, the commodity they sold you. But I am certain you can remember the way the place felt, the cool lighting over the bar, the service, whether you waited too long or not for your table. You may have even noticed this year’s colors highlighted in the tiles on the floor.
That’s the experience. Unlike products, experiences are sticky, they stay with you longer, they make you feel something and encourage you to engage with a brand. Experiences are shared; you have likely told others about that cool new restaurant.
So think about the experience you are creating for your customers. The way you make your clients feel can’t be copied. It’s why you do what you do. Start with that first, then the how, and only after that the what.