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April 7, 2009, 02:28 PM
Your business runs on customer experience. In order for anybody to fork over their dough they must first have an idea of what they'll be experiencing. For example, if your office needs the service of an interior decorator or your arm wants the amazing time-telling experience of a Rolex watch, you will first produce that experience in your mind before making the purchase.

This perceived experience is what makes business tick. And since business runs on customer perceptions, then marketing must be very important. We want to make sure that the quality of product or service is properly perceived by the customer and we create media to deliver that perception.

The best businesses know the importance of experience. It's part of their daily mantra. They hire the top sales people and marketing agencies that fully understand this concept. Good marketers and designers use attractive wording, appropriate photography, quality paper stock, emotive lighting...anything and everything possible to get across this point. 'You will love this purse!' they cry! 'This vacation will transform your life!' they shout.

As a person of business, you must be a master of the experience in at least one stage of the process. Do you make/deliver a product that is so amazing that it's an experience in itself? Do you provide overwhelmingly great customer service that I would feel like royalty in your store or on your website? Businesses such as Zappos.com provide an incredible shoe-buying experience. They even have a legitimate Twitter presence to strengthen their customer relations one step further. Some businesses might not offer something as attractive as shoes. I understand that. What if reliability in your industry is your thing? or efficiency? In these cases, it's even more important to have a really good marketing team or campaign on your side.

I just read this great article about experiential and material purchases. The author makes some very powerful points, the most important point I took from it is that experiences far outweigh possessions in terms of long-term value to a customer. Think about your own experiences for a moment. Is there more value in a concert you experienced or a jacket you bought? Do you have fonder memories of a night out for your birthday or a pair of shoes your husband bought you? Experiences get processed as memories in the brain and we attach meaning and emotions to them.

You're probably thinking that this may place greater importance on a service-oriented business. Not necessarily. A product-based business can benefit equally from mastering the customer experience. In fact, in many cases the experience can act as a multiplier to the product. I have an example I use to help my clients as we work through this. I ask them to think of a vacation they took where they bought a souvenir. The souvenir is a product with the emotions and experiences of the vacation attached to it. Something as insignificant as a spoon or shot glass can conjure up vivid images and experiences.

Imagine being the owner of a coffee shop that goes above and beyond the norm of customer experience. What could you do differently to make the experience superior to your competitors? Could you make a trip to your coffee shop like a vacation away from a busy day? This is where the magic happens for your customer - it's what makes business tick.

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