Enticing Customer Engagement

Okay, you’ve read, heard and shared enough about the “crisis”, so stop for a moment and switch your mindset. Let’s talk about you, your future customers and your business.

Today is the first day of the rest of your business life to paraphrase. The past is unchangeable and what will be may never be the same as it was. So let’s move forward. Time to elevate your offering and stage enticing customer engagements. Yes, I am talking about staging an experience for your customers to add value to your offering or as one person I know would say, ‘Wrap your offering with an experience.”

Easy enough said, but harder to do, less you understand what is the ‘secret’ sauce of staging the right experience for customers and not just delivering a great customer experience. And yes, there is a huge difference between these two. To begin staging an experience you’ll need to shift your thinking in two key areas; the audience and the offering.

The audience, a.k.a. your future customers, first need to be identified better. You’ll need to think about attracting or enticing your new audience by knowing them better and what would attract them to your offering. In the Experience Economy, this is done by shifting from tracking population numbers and census data to attracting people, real people. (see diagram below)

the progression of economic value diagram with a comparison to the types of customer identification.

As you can see in the diagram above of the Progression of Economic Value by Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore, economic models use varying levels of data to identify and locate possible customers. In Commodities, the identification is simple, its a geographic methodology. As the progression continues, the level of detail refines and narrows to better match what it is a given provider offers. This type of identification works fairly well up through Services. Much of what we see in today’s economy.

When you decide to elevate your business to an experience, the rules change. It is no longer about tracking population sets and segmentation of population. No more stereotyping customers into constraint ideas that customers with similar data act and purchase the same. No more playing with acquiring a percentage of a percent of the population. The methodology needs to be flip from data mining to focusing on human behavior patterns.

A methodology that moves from information of population groups to knowledge of people. This methodology of seeing people through the lens of human behavior is called Persona Profiling. A mapping of human behaviors that then can be the framework for designing and staging experiences that are wanted and desired. A method of creating enticing engagements that relate to a type of personality and the desires and needs they have that are similar.

Experiences are personal and happen inside each person not to or for a person. We must understand people more deeply in order to stage unique experiences that add greater value to a business and to the customer. We need to map these behaviors that we want to entice and engage. True persona profiling looks only at the human factors. As I stated before, it is no longer about tracking population numbers and pushing out marketing messages, it is about understanding our customers better and staging something that is engaging and personal by pulling them into an experience that offers greater value and is unique.

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Persona Profiling is about attracting a type of person. By using personae versus informational population data, we can design experiences and product offerings that speak to a particular individual or a mix of individuals. This creates a stronger connection and engagement. The messaging becomes more focused and the language used that is more familiar to a given persona about the experience. In fact, the need for advertising and external messaging decreases. Starbuck’s originally was created the coffee drinker’s experience and used little to no external marketing except word-of-mouth between true coffee drinkers. The environment and the customer coffee creation experience was the marketing. It eventually drew the outliers in and grew. Who knew a $5 dollar cup of coffee would be so appealing?

With the shift to Experiences, a shift must be made across the board of the business. The staff must now have roles to play, understand the language their audience uses and focus on customizing the offering to the individual. The product, whatever that maybe, must be tailored to the persona in such a way to make it memorable for them.

All of this personalization, customization and human behavior focusing is what the experience economy is all about. It’s about knowing the ‘Who’ of your customer base versus the ‘What’. Once we know who we are staging for, then the value increases and the offering shifts slightly with each persona. And for those personae that aren’t being enticed to experience, don’t worry, it’s not for them anyway and they would not see the greater value in your offering, today. Deepen the relationship with a type of person rather than trying to gain the attention of a percentage of a segment.

To learn more about the Experience Economy, check out the latest edition of “The Experience Economy”.

I leave you wit this quote by Earl Wilson, Journalist.

“Ever notice that the whisper of temptation can be heard farther than the loudest call to duty.”

I hope I have be helpful and at least inspired you enough to want to know more about looking forward and not backwards.

Living on the Grid: Economic Value

So, recently, I had developed a set of conversation starter cards for business adapted from a diagnostic program I created in 2005 called WayPoint. The deck was a simple 2×2 formatted exercise that any business could perform. While developing the cards I created numerous adaptations until one was finally selected.

In the process of development, many of the concept were sourced from my experience working with B. Joseph Pine II and his co-authored book the Experience Economy. Some of these grids actual were very revealing about business direction and economic values, so I decided to create a series aI am calling “Living on the Grid.”

The first of the series addresses whether you are a goods provider, service delivery or an Experience stager. Follow the direction and plot your results.

I would love to hear or see what you discovered about yourself and your company.

Until then, keep striving to be a memorable engagement because all experience have impact on your customer’s lives and are inherently transformative.

Get More Customers

From the Mantel

One of the best ways to find new prospects is by finding similar people to your current customers. I used this metaphor of ‘Photos on the Mantel’ with many people and on a earlier post. The process is very straight forward, but does need a bit of control when profiling.

1. Start with your best 5 -10 repeat customers. If you don’t have repeat customers, this could be your first issue, but that is for a later conversation.

2. Create a unique and clear profile of a customer type and not a specific customer. Examples: Stay at Home Moms, Active Couples, Retired Sportsman or Young Parents.

3. Interview your 5 -10 top customers to uncover why they work with or buy from you.  Define their needs, wants and how they were fulfilled.

4. Establish some basic character traits. Try to uncover favorite hobbies, times when they buy, general shopping preferences and even the type car they drive. These are all signs of spending habits and possible social influence.

4. Ask how they found you initially. Was it by print, a friend, radio, internet or social media? Know where each type found you. Everyone does not use the same methods.

5. Product or service types they obtain from you.

Networking

Now that you have your basic profiles, label your current customers into these profile types. You should start seeing patterns, if not, you may want to adjust or refine your profiles or customer choice. Some customers may fit into a few multiple profiles. If you start seeing most of your customers fitting in multiple profiles, refine your profiles yet again. Try to be as unique as possible. See profile example chart.

Now, finding new customers can come from current customers that have similar characteristics and needs. Use their associate network.

The second method is use these profiles to find places that various types of your people would be located, such as shopping areas, meeting groups, hobby shows and even online social groups. Similar profile types usually have similar spending, socializing and work habits. Again the key is similarity.

I hope these visual thinking sketches help you grow and prosper.

Until next time, see your path and stay the course. Without a map, you can’t see where you’re going, nor how far you’ve come.

Lessons from the Mantel

I have fond memories of my grandmother and the simple house she lived in. She wasn’t well off financially, but rich in vision and imagination. As a child, she took me on many adventures to far off lands all while sitting on the back porch. She taught me much about vision, imagination and often about people all from that little house on the edge of anywhere. Some of those same lessons continuously echo in my mind as I work with others.

One in particular lesson was re-ignited with a phone call came from a good friend and fellow thinker. It appears that blogging has gotten into her blood and she was having some fun at doing it. After she had done it for a while she realized that maybe, the direction and intent of the blog needed a bit of focus, purpose to ensure that her readers gain value from her words. So comes the email message. A simple request for assistance.

I am not going to go through the whole phone conversation for the simple sake of brevity, but I will highlight the core of message that was shared. I presented an analogy of life, as in business, that was passed to me so many years ago. I asked her to imagine a mantel with photographs perched together. Each image is of someone different. These pictures on the mantel would be the images of her on-line family of readers.

Yes, I said on-line family of readers. The reason for this type of visualization is so we  have a clear picture to whom we speak, serve or communicate. The photographs are not of anyone particular, rather a collaboration of a type of person she would write to. I also told her she should have five of these family photos that she would imagine being her readers. Of these five, three of them are her best customers, advocates or followers.

Each reader has unique characteristics, attributes and needs. Define them with clear personalities. As an example, Uncle George could be a well read man, who seeks advice, but doesn’t respond. Let’s call him the “Watcher”. This watcher type persona enjoys your reading the things you say and applies them as much as he can. The other four persona’s have their reasons for reading. Some are seeking answers to needs, answers that you provide. It is important to understand what you offer and who your customers will be that will find value in your offering.

I ended our chat by adding one last note. When you write or you are doing business with your new family, write each blog entry as if talking to only one of them at a time. I believe that each post should speak to one person at a time and to a different person for different reasons. Share the wealth, but avoid mixing the conversation. If we treat our customers as if they are family, we tend to be more authentic in our approach because we understand who they are and why they seek us out.

So remember, create unique person types of your five best types of customers, have a strong vision of what they may look like and then place your customers up on the mantel so you will see them everyday to remind you of who you serve. Once you do this, avoid wandering to greener fields because you may just lose touch or alienate with the ones you have.

Thanks grandma, for all the worlds of wonder and words of wisdom from that old wooden porch out back.

Keep thinking visually so you can see your success.

 

Customers and the Coin Sorter

Many of us have the proverbial coin jar or piggy bank somewhere in a corner of room or on a shelf. When we have the opportunity, we drop in a few coins. We do this to save for a raining day or to purchase that special something. Slowly, over time, the coin number increases to such a volume that you are forced to empty the coins and sort them for rolling. If you have a lot of coins and you’re a bit wiser, you acquire a coin sorter or find a coin machine at your local bank to ease the sorting and counting process.

When you’re done sorting, you’ll discover that you don’t have an even balance of coins. There is always one coin that out numbers the rest. Like most, it’s always the coin of most abundance from your pockets or the least taken in a time of an emergency.

So, what can we learn from all these coins and the sorting process?

Using the analogy that your customers are coins, imagine the sorting machine as the different methods in which your customers typically acquire your offering. Which path did they follow to find you and which of these paths has the most coins (customers) passing through it? To add better clarity, put a value on each channel by the typical revenue generated through that channel.  Take the revenue and divide by the number of customers who used this channel.

What you may discover is that one channel may have a higher volume of traffic use, but may not be the greater source of revenue. Think about the coins inside the jars and banks again. Most of us have far more pennies than the silver coins unless you’re strategic about your saving or have an aversion to copper. When counted side by side any other coin usually produces more value than the collection of pennies.

When we stop and sort the methods we attract customers, the better we can understand the greatest potential for lift in our business. Yes, it may cost more to refresh or use a particular channel to attract new customers, yet, if the revenue increase is possible, it only makes cents, sorry sense.

That’s my thinking and my two cents worth. So a penny for your thoughts.