My first paid freelance job fresh out of design school was creating a brochure for a magician. Having moved beyond performing for children’s parties, he began doing “magic with a message”—shows designed to teach kids how to avoid drugs and strangers. The ideal venue for his show was high schools, and his target market was high school principals. The brochure was to be part of his marketing collateral.
Besides being an excellent magician, he is also a savvy marketer. Instead of images of himself performing magic tricks, the photos he provided were faces of delighted and awe-struck kids watching him perform. His reasoning was surprisingly astute. Rather than focusing on the magic, he wanted to draw attention to the experience. Showing how he created “insanely great experiences” for his audience is what caused his target prospect—namely, high school principals—to book an engagement.
As in my earlier article, this title comes from the ebook, Innovate the Steve Jobs Way: 7 Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success. Like my marketing-savvy magician friend, Apple seems to get the concept that people buy experiences rather than products. Their recent iPad commercial tells us that “now, we can watch a newspaper … listen to a magazine … curl up with a movie … and see a phone call.” Verizon, on the other hand, is telling us that their tablets are “flash-ready,” come equipped with a “core Tegra 2 chipset,” and are “4G LTE upgradeable.” And while that might send chills up yours and my techno-spine, it does nothing for someone like my technologically-challenged mother-in-law, who was impressed by the fact that “you just touch it to make it go where you want.” Even she can have an “insanely great experience”—but only with the tablet manufacturer smart enough to tell her so.
But “insanely great experiences” are not limited to using the product or service. People also want “insanely great experiences” when buying a product or service. Consultant Alan Weiss calls this creating “breakthrough relationships.” One way he suggests to do this is by keeping a record of important issues facing your existing clients and key prospects (regardless of whether you are working with them on these issues or if they are out of your area of expertise), then sending articles and other useful resources on that topic.
Let’s face it. Our prospects are not going to experience roller coaster thrills over the website we’ve developed for them. (In fact, you really didn’t develop the website for your prospect at all. You developed it for his prospects, clients, customers, or patients.) So what type of experience can you create during the buying process itself?
Over the past decade, I’ve seen website development go from what most people thought was some type of voodoo magic to something a teenager can do. Next year, my fifteen-year-old son will be learning in high school what I went to graphic design college (and re-paid thousands of dollars back in student loans) to learn. When kids coming out of high school know much as you did when you graduated college (if you did), your skills have become commoditized. Sure, you’re going to develop a great site. Of course it will have a professional look, be standards-complaint and search engine friendly. But those things are “the cost of entry” if you want to compete in this field—not what sets you apart. Creating “insanely great experiences” during the buying process may be the only hope you have left.
Neil Rackham (SPIN Selling) and Michael Gerber (The E-Myth Revisited) concur. In an article entitled, “From Valve Communication to Value Creation,” Rackham says that “…value is migrating from the product itself to how the product is acquired.” (Italics mine.)
Michael Gerber says that the commodity isn’t what’s important—the way it’s delivered or acquired is. According to Gerber, the entrepreneur considers the business to be the product, not what he delivers to the customer. He looks at the business “as if it were a product, sitting on a shelf and competing for the customer’s attention against a whole shelf of competing products (or businesses).”
This means “how the business interacts with the consumer is more important than what it sells.”
The commodity is the thing your customer actually walks out with in his hand.
The product is what your customer feels as he walks out of your business.
What he feels about your business, not what he feels about the commodity.
– The E-Myth Revisited
Yesterday, I got a haircut at a place I’d never gone to before. Although I was very happy with the end result, the girl cutting my hair looked as though she’d rather be anywhere else than where she was. The stylist the next chair over was the polar opposite— gregarious and outgoing, making conversation with her client … and I began wishing I’d gotten her instead. Don’t get me wrong, just like my haircut, your client ought to be thrilled with the site you developed. But a large part of that thrill includes the process of how he obtained the site. Did you create an “insanely great experience, or did you leave your client wishing the developer “the next chair over” had built his site instead?