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Creating Experiences Is Where We Are Headed


I am re-reading a book I found on my bookshelf during a recent clean out called The Experience Economy by B. Joseph Pine and James H. Gilmore  Though it was published in 1997 and much has changed since it’s writing, I believe the central thesis is incredibly valid in today’s market.

We are moving from a service-based economy to an experience-based economy.

This post isn’t a book review, so I’m not going to re-count all the nuggets of wisdom. You are smart people and can get the book yourselves. 🙂

But, I have to say that this book has me thinking – a lot. (I know I know – dangerous right?!)

To give you an idea of what I mean by an experience-based economy, just think about everyone’s favorite coffee shop, Starbucks. Up until it’s arrival on the scene, coffee was mostly an afterthought and cost somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty cents a cup.

Ah – but Starbucks decided to sell coffee a whole different way – and charge an unheard of price for the end product.  And it worked record-breakingly well.

Why? Because they don’t sell coffee. They sell the entire Starbucks experience. And we willingly que up and part with our hard earned dollar so that a barista can prepare our decaf-no-whip-skinny latte while we listen to uber-hip music and say hey to all our friends.

They sell the experience of feeling COOL. And every second of our time inside a Starbucks is orchestrated to enhance that experience. Next time you pop in for your favorite caffeinated beverage, pay attention to every detail and you’ll see what I mean.

(Another company who intentionally designs their customer experience is Zappo’s. GREAT case study to pay attention to.)

So how does all this apply to me – the humble blogger/escape artist/business coach?

I’m still working all that out but I can tell you what I am chewing on long and hard: What kind of experience am I designing for my tribe? My clients? My “guests”?

See I know we all crave great experiences – even online. It’s why we love bloggers like Chris Guillebeau, and tweeters like @SummerTomato. After spending just a few minutes of virtual time with them, we know we’ve been transported somewhere else and witnessed something pretty cool.

The success of recent “flash” launches lasting just 24 hours I believe rests largely on the story we watch unfold before our eyes. There is drama, suspense, urgency, humor, crowd-participation, climax and resolution – all rolled into the sale of a product.

Who wouldn’t want to pay attention to that?!

So I’m still working it all out in my head, but here’s the one thing I know for sure: From the get-go I have to be clear and intentional about the experience I am designing for you. Not in a fake, manipulative kind of way, but in a “how can I make it amazing for you?” kind of way.

Stay tuned for more on all that.

What do you think about this whole idea of experience? Because without you, I am writing a play for an empty theatre. 🙂

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