Some customers of your small business don’t buy something and walk away. They look for something more and often expect an additional benefit for doing business with you. These customers are part of a greater market that’s not satisfied with just getting goods or services — they want an experience.
What Is the Experience Economy?
Your business can provide a service by meeting your customers’ needs. If you operate a lawn care business, you mow, trim, rake, water, and maintain people’s grass. There’s nothing necessarily memorable about this service. If you want to make yourself different from other companies and create a truly memorable business, jump into the experience economy. Leave a custom garden gnome or pink flamingo for your customers. Deliver a cup of coffee to your client as you show up. You enter the experience economy by doing something unnecessary that creates a unique experience.
Stages of Economic Value
The experience economy is an evolution of the three basic markets: commodities, goods, and services. People shop in commodities markets to get raw materials to do things themselves. They shop in goods markets to buy completed products. If they need something done, they look to the services market. Although these three markets meet customers’ needs, the experience economy introduces a fourth market where the customer can shop for what they want.
So You Want to Enter the Experience Economy…
To break into the experience economy, don’t think about what your customer needs or what they will pay. Think about how the customer perceives your business, what emotions you want them to feel, and how you want your business to be remembered. Emphasize relationship-building and customization. Perform journey mapping to figure out what people want. To give your customers a great experience, you have to think outside the box. Innovation comes from eliminating distractions and engaging other senses.
What This Means for Your Company
There are two things to think about when planning your entrance into the experience economy. First, consider the costs. Products in the experience economy are personalized and might not be easily replicated. It takes more time to offer your goods or services. You may not be able to buy part of the experience in bulk. All of this adds up to higher costs. If you want to be in the experience market, you may have to pay more. Your expenses are higher, your business is riskier, and greater importance is placed on maintaining the relationships between you and your vendors.
If you’re able to pull all of this off, the second thing to consider should excite you: you’ll make more money. People may be willing to pay a premium for your service if it is different and memorable, even though the underlying service may be exactly the same as other companies. The way you care for a lawn is exactly the same as your competition down the street. However, your service differentiation makes your customer more loyal, your product or service more noticeable, your company easier to market, and your small business healthier.
It takes more work to give your customers an experience. If it sounds like a lot of work to enter the experience economy, it’s because it is. However, your customers will appreciate the personal attention. In fact, many of your customers actually seek a memorable shopping experience. Give it to them by invoking emotions within the experience economy.