Twelve CEOs were staring at six bottles of nail polish I had placed on the conference room table. (Two women and ten men were participating in their monthly LEVERAGEDWISDOM peer learning meeting. I asked the women to hold their answers.)
Raising one small clear glass bottle filled with nail polish, I asked, “What color is this”? Purple? No! Plum? No! Blue-violet? No!
Holding up another bottle, I asked, “and this one?” Deep pink? No! Rose? No!
One more. “How about this one”? Red? No. Maroon? No!
OKAY!!! Okay, we give up, the men shouted, “What’re the colors?”
The purple polish is called Meet For Drinks. The deep pink one is named Techno Girl and the red is Got The Blues For Red. The three others centered on the conference table were Mermaid To Order, Cajun Shrimp and Yodel Me On My Cell!!
What’s going on?
Years ago red nail polish would have been named “deep red”, “enamel red”, “bright red” or “dark red”. All very descriptive names and all including the word “red”. Today, nail polish manufacturers, merchandisers and distributors are no longer just selling a color they are promoting an experience. Hence, purple is now Meet For Drinks.
Ask yourself, how many reds can you sell to one customer versus how many experiences can you deliver to any one customer and their friends. According to the number of nail polish bottles in my wife’s collection she is having a lot more experiences than she is buying any one color. When a friend asks my wife “What color is that” pointing to her nails…and she answers, in a throaty voice Got The Blues For Red…the experience is shared and the sale cycle goes on. “Where did you buy that”, asks the friend.
When my wife holds her hand out and asks me if I like this color…it’s called Mermaid To Order. The answer is more than just “nice color”.
What’s the lesson?
According to Joe Pine II and James Gilmore authors of The Experience Economy we have transitioned through the agrarian economy, the industrial revolution and the service economy to the here and now, “The Experience Economy”.
And the lesson is… today, whether selling to the consumer or the business community; you have to deliver a memorable experience.
In a HBR article published prior to their book release, Pine and Gilmore explained:
“The entire history of economic progress can be recapitulated in the four-stage evolution of the birthday cake. As a vestige of the agrarian economy, mothers made birthday cakes from scratch, mixing farm commodities (flour, sugar, butter, and eggs) that together cost mere dimes. As the goods-based industrial economy advanced, moms paid a dollar or two to Betty Crocker for premixed ingredients. Later, when the service economy took hold, busy parents ordered cakes from the bakery or grocery store, which, at $10 or $15, cost ten times as much as the packaged ingredients. Now, … parents neither make the birthday cake nor even throw the party. Instead, they spend $100 or more to “outsource” the entire event to Chuck E. Cheese’s, the Discovery Zone, the Mining Company, or some other business that stages a memorable event for the kids—and often throws in the cake for free. Welcome to the emerging experience economy.”
“An experience occurs when a company intentionally uses services as the stage, and goods as props, to engage individual customers in a way that creates a memorable event. Commodities are fungible, goods tangible, services intangible, and experiences memorable.”
Experiences have always been at the heart of the food and entertainment business. Walt Disney World embodies all the deliverables of an amusement park, zoo, restaurants and vacation into memorable experiences that have now been shared with three generations.
Apple iPad transformed the computer into an interactive experiential device that continues to engage with every new App that appears in their App Store. Very young kids who are learning and playing on iPads waddle over to the family TV and start pushing on the screen looking for their interactive experience to continue.
A long haul billion dollar transcontinental trucking (logistics) company was looking for a local trucker (a LEVERAGEDWISDOM Member) to deliver their freight the last mile. The freight, typically coming from California, would be off-loaded onto the local trucker’s dock to then be placed in smaller more maneuverable trucks for delivery in the streets of New York City and surrounding boroughs. The long haul company assumed the Member Company could deliver their goods based on a well-earned reputation of excellence. What the visiting client wanted to see on their first inspection tour of the Member’s facility was the bathrooms, cafeteria and vending machines. The long haul company believed that the driver’s experience upon arrival after traveling cross-country was important to the moral and well-being of their work force which translated into more on-time deliveries and less employee turnover.
A new internet technology company raised over 6 million dollars to scale their workforce and improve their deliverables. To do so the CEO Member of LEVERAGEDWISDOM sought out new work space. The choice among alternatives was easy when one of the 10,000 square foot spaces came with a 6,000 foot terrace overlooking downtown Manhattan. While all the other New York City technology companies were also providing, pizzas, ping pong tables, refrigerated beer and lounge areas for their engineers…in this hotly contested market for talent the terrace filled with clusters of chairs, benches and tables became a major attraction for recruitment. When they moved in they had a Cinco de Maya party on the terrace that was the envy of many other start-ups.
If you would like to transform your work place, products or services into memorable experiences that drive business, create life-time valued customers and enhance employee recruitment and retention then join us for lunch at an upcoming LEVERAGEDWISDOM meeting.