Launchfest 2019 Experience Economy

Experiential Realms

Preparing to head to Cleveland for the 20th Anniversary launch of the Experience Economy book with B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore. I packing my pens, pads and a few extra goods for the show.

Coloring the Experience Economy – Illustrated principles

Hope to see many ambassadors of the Experience there and a few old friends.

Fun at #WCUS2019

Just a snap shot of the finished space

There is nothing more engaging than a Visual Thinking experience for attendees and vendors alike. Sharing ideas, comments and insights on a large wall is very powerful and entertaining.

Over the first. Weekend of November, I had the great pleasure in performing a Visual Translation of the attendees and vendors at the conference in St. Louis. Over the course of the few days that the WordPress community came together physically, I was able to capture some great ideas and insights. So many similar and yet so many different ideas.

Some of the ideas even challenge me to create some interesting metaphors of their ideas. One especially I like is that of “Navigating the World”.

The Whole is greater than the sum

Visual Translation of HFSE 2019

Recently I worked a Healthcare conference in Boston called the HFSE. Unlike typical Healthcare conferences or conventions, this event was a cross-platform program that addressed design, processes and applications. So much information and many ideas were presented, demonstrated and even shared by attendees.

Below is the #VisualTranslation of that event and the many ideas shared. Take a look, see what you can see and explore from each point and then out to the larger view.

Segmentation of Stereotypes

Historically, data on populations and their segmentation was the backbone of decision making, seeking insight into future markets or growth strategies. Data was king! Unfortunately, data also has its shortfalls.

Demographic and psychographic research is predominately historic in nature. It is not living, evolving information: it is based on a cycle of census data that is collected every ten years. By the time data is categorized and segmented into markets, the results could already be ten years old by the time the new data is available for use.

Another issue facing data? It inherently becomes stereotypical information. There are assumptions that demographic and psychographic data produce. Data is sorted in pre-defined categories. These categories are limited sets of stereotypes of comparable data. Stereotyping begins when creating possible consumer snapshots into who they are, how they act, what they do, and more.

For instance, two people exist in the same demographic categories: equal income, education, family size, and same community. One is a current consumer at a specific financial institution, but not the other. Why? Both match all the data, yet the second may never be a consumer at the same provider.

There is more than meets the eye. What the data cannot show is that the two have completely different behaviors and motivations behind their spending. One may tend to be a movie watcher and spend a majority of his income on entertainment, while the other is a weekend craftsman who spends his income on tools and making furniture. When it comes to your business, your perceived value aligns while the other does not.

This is a high-level example of how data does not see the person themselves, but only a basic categorization of people. Data creates stereotypes of what could be a match, and still falls short of what consumers could be compatible. Like demographics, data, is good to identify clusters in a specific location, yet a different methodology is needed to get a clearer picture of the true market.

The Shift

Enter persona profiling. Similar to demographic data, personae are grouped. That’s where data and persona similarities end. Unlike demographic data, personae are unique characteristics of human behavior versus historic grouped data points. Personae are created from observations of consumer interaction and intention inquiries. Always evolving, persona knowledge is current insights about real people, not an assumption of universal consumers.

The challenge? Avoiding the tendency to use data to help identify distinguishable characteristics of a persona. A persona is a representation, a character created from a person’s behavioral DNA. Any hard data blended with a pure persona becomes a hybrid stereotype. Many firms have incorporated data with the idea of persona. Data criteria such as age, gender, and education are commonly used.

Pure persona mapping focuses on the human behavior versus the assumption of similarity in data. Personae are characteristics of observation and investigation. The other challenge is that humans can possess multiple personae at any given moment. We have many facets and are not just one persona all the time, but rather a collection of personae.

A Pure Persona               

Personae do not create fictional characters we call consumers. Personae are unique combinations of behaviors, attitudes, motivations, and intentions. These are the core elements that define a persona, rather than simple demographic or psychographic categorization profiles.

Surprisingly, we use persona constructs every day. Personae carry inherent information about a person that others can quickly relate to. Typically, personae bubble to the surface in a social atmosphere. For example, there might be a person who stands at the office coffee machine waiting for others to get coffee. The person uses this positioning to command attention. Let’s label them as “Coffee Commando.” Every office has one! The ‘Coffee Commando’ spends most of their morning trying to engage others in conversations. Depending on the intention of this character, others may make attempts to either avoid or fully engage given their connection or capability.

A few more common personae that can be identified in the office are ones like ‘Eaves Droppers,’ ‘Go Getters,’ and ‘Busy Bodies.’ The list can be extensive given the conditions of the environment. Each of these have unique and distinctive behavioral characteristics that make them stand out.

The Application

Besides these office humor examples, many businesses can use this knowledge to enhance growth, strengthen their brand, or stand out from the competition. To understand how to use this process of persona profiles, a shift needs to happen. Where segmentation stereotypes find potential consumers or locations in new markets and play the percentages, persona profiles are about leveraging similar characteristics of current consumers and shaping a business around them. It focuses on a deeper understanding of current customers, and uses that insight to target new consumers and deepen the relationship with current consumers.

By understanding what drives a persona, a business can modify their interactions, communication, and even the environment to entice other similar personae to engage with their business.

The Impact

Knowing consumer behavior and intention has a far deeper impact on product offerings, brand communications, environmental design, and staffing procedures. By identifying consumers as unique versus a collection of data, businesses can better communicate to attract similar consumers, or refocus on additional consumer personae that may be a better fit.

Product Offering

For years, the tourism industry has relied on traditional market methods anchored in demographic or psychographic profiles. Advertising distinguished one company from another. Then, a few shifted from demographic data to persona design to improve market penetration, differentiate themselves, and better connect with their consumers. The better connection also increased consumers’ perceived value, making them willing to spend a little more because they believed the company knew them better.

American Express was one of these companies who employed persona mapping to improve their travel programs. By creating travel personas based upon information they had acquired over the years, special packages could be designed that spoke to each persona they wanted to attract. These packages were custom travel packages that even if the consumer was not sure where they may travel to, they still knew that the package would be a perfect fit for them.


Language is a critical element in communication of a business’ message. Identifying the persona that a company wishes to connect with, language can be reshaped to speak directly to that persona instead of blasting a broad message that may not connect strongly with any particular consumer. By shaping a narrative to a persona, a company can tailor their communications.

In this age of digital channels and social media, finding and acquiring the attention of consumers is much more complicated. With a unique voice that connects to a single consumer by leveraging a persona profile, a company can focus its communication to its target consumers and spread awareness about the company and its offering. Persona profiles make the communication more personable.

The most powerful channel of a company’s message is through the consumer’s voice. As the adage goes, ‘I’m like you. I like you.’ This connection creates more interest and eventually increases interactions, boosting ROI.


To complement the conversation, companies can use the persona profile to address the environments where the consumer and the company interact. Just as the type of language used in a conversation is unique, the environmental elements can also reflect that connection. Different color palettes, furniture style, artwork, décor, and even conversation sitting configurations can greatly impact the relationship with the consumer.

Imagine if the target persona liked movies. The space could incorporate elements of a movie theater. Adding a popcorn machine in the lobby or the waiting area reflects a bit of a cinematic look. Using cues from the top personae can help establish a place that is inviting and they are comfortable being in. The options blend the persona’s likes and the company’s brand together physically. The more you connect with the subtle notes attached to a persona, the greater chance of enhancing the relationship and increasing the perceived value to the consumer.

Positive and Negative Personae 

One final aspect of persona profiling is the culture for staff and consumer interaction modifiers. Eventually, a staff member may be engaged with a negative persona that is the “O-Please Please” or the “Fist Pounder” because of an issue they have encountered.

Agitated and upset, these consumers create uncomfortable and unwanted engagements between the staff and themselves. These types of interactions usually occur in public spaces where others can witness. No company wants that! The power of persona allows a company to develop a series of behavior modification tactics to help take the “Fist Pounder” and transform them back to a persona that is more positive.

By knowing the behavior and motivation of both negative and positive personae, consumer engagement tactics can be established in advance to help guide the staff to resolve the problem. Once resolved, further tactics can be established to transform the consumer from a negative persona to the desired positive persona.

Duality and Polarity: A Business Challenge

Earlier this year I was offered an opportunity, no, a challenge to develop a visual that demonstrated the duality and polarity relationship in business. The first question I needed to be answered was how the presenter defined each of these terms and the application.

Si Alhir, an Executive Coach for Business Agility and Digital Transformation, was preparing to present this idea for a webcast and needed some visual to help frame the conversation for his listeners.

The challenge was complex. There were many moving pieces, conflicting ideas as I was very limited with my experience on this subject. After reading some of his content, the idea became much clearer and evoked a very old idea of duality and hinted at polarity.

Along with the illustration, Si asked if I could provide some language that he could present along with the image. The following quote is what was provided to help support the illustration.

“Business agility, as illustrated, is more about duality, the use of opposites, rather than focusing on the polarity of direction and tactics.”

To provide a basis to the illustration and the quote, I chose to reference the classic court cards, A.K.A. Face cards of poker cards, I was able add a bit of twist to convey the idea that polarity and duality are coexisting in the world of agility, fragility and anti-fragility.

What this opportunity provided was a clarity to complexity. Many businesses have similar complex ideas and systems within their own organization. Complexities that may create gaps to achieving agility. These gaps are intangible, and many times, unseen. It is not until they are made tangible through one form or another can a organization identify the gaps and begin building methods and paths to cross those gaps.

If you have a few moments, take a look and listen to the webcast and learn about business agility from one of the most resourceful and insightful business coaches I have met in a long time.

Until next time, find ways to make your intangible ideas tangible.

Coloring the Experience Economy

Finally pushed all those sketches, illustrations and doodles off my desk and into my first, I emphasis first, graphic book ‘Coloring the Experience Economy.’ After working with B. Joseph Pine II, co-author of ‘The Experience Economy”, I have created a collection of ideas, principles and frameworks adapted from his work. Not a just a graphic business book, but also a visual entertainment book.

See the Experience Economy like you never have before. Discover the visual interpretations of the text. Call it a visual translations of the best business book for the past 20 years and still going strong.

The ‘Coloring the Experience Economy’ is a great companion to the original text. So, if you read the book, see the ideas and if you pick-up a copy of the coloring book and explore all the wonderful images, I hope it makes you want to learn more.