Jennifer B. Davis
I attended a great WebSeminar on the "Experience Economy," hosted by WebEx. The speaker was Joseph Pine who authored The Experience Economy and Mass Customization.

The key points of his session were as follows:
  • There is a progression from commodities (the things that come from the ground), to goods (packaged items for convenience), to services (where someone else does the work for you), to experiences (where people pay admission and the goods are just the souvenirs or memorabilia).
  • He proposes that "the experience is the marketing". He says that to build demand, you must stage marketing experience (think: Pike Place market in Seattle that throws fish to captivate shoppers)
  • He suggests that people should "audition", not "interview" their front-line employees. They should train them like an actor to fulfill a role in the staged experience, and uniform them appropriately. (Think: GeekSquad or the "cast" at DisneyLand)
  • Customization is the anecdote to commoditzation. He had many great examples of this. Is there a way to do mass customization or personalization experience to build loyalty and a premium brand? (Think: Build-a-Bear Workshop) The key here is not just customizing the product, but rather getting people to think of the experience as the product they are purchasing and the goods as the take-away from the experience: not the other way a round.
  • Beyond experiences is transformations. This is really what educational institutions, healthclubs, coaches, and business consultants try to create. Can we help our customers transform themselves or their businesses by the experiences we stage?

Customization and personalized experiences are common themes in the sites and tools that I regularly use and talk about here. They are also evidenced in the growing industry of life coaches and consultants. Are there other companies that are doing this well? If so, I'd love to hear about them.

For more information on the author and the concepts, check out Their book is filled with fantastic examples of this and is a provocative read.

5 Responses
  1. Terry Says:

    Experience marketing is powerful. Selling falls into 2 camps: trivial risk ( such as going to dinner at the Rainforest Cafe, Hard Rock, retail shopping, etc... ); or, significant risk (major consumer purchases and major B2B transactions). Major B2B transactions are generally complex sales. How is one to experience sell to a committee using experience marketing?

  2. Perhaps B2B decision making by committee is an experience in itself...a painful experience!

    Joking aside, I too wondered how experience selling/marketing related to B2B sales, but there were several examples in the book.

    One was of the complex sale of Coca-Cola selling their products into large corporate accounts (think: restaurant chains). Once the contract is closed, they have a "signature moment," where the sales person takes out two ice-cold Cokes out of a special refrigerated compartment in their briefcase and they toast the contract.

    My point is that maybe the whole sales process can't be revamped as an experience, but perhaps portions can.

  3. Alan Says:

    I'm in the wrong business. I sell fabricated steel. Not much fun tipping back an ice cold iron girder. sigh

  4. Terry Says:

    Interesting comments Jennifer.

    I have once heard that you cannot teach anyone anything that they don't already know. Perhaps experience marketing/selling is re-orienting what one already knows to consider an alternate solution to their problem.

  5. Thinking about this more, I challenged myself to think of a B2B purchase where the product was memorabelia of the event. So, here is one example: what if a new mammography imaging center had some new equipment that they thought they needed. What if GE (or the other equipment companies) offered a deal that included the machines (with a service contract aimed at selling them the experience of "peace of mind"), but also sold them a co-marketed "community event" where the equipment would be installed and used to provide free mammograms to any woman who showed up. GE would throw their muscle behind making sure the press was there, that community organizations were alerted, case studies were available for local "human interest" stories, and that the imaging center was positioned as the first in the area with the new technology. In other words, the equipment itself remains after the event as a memento of the "launch of the service."