When people enter a BMW (replace with your favorite car) showroom, what are they looking for? Are they looking for a car with a great performance and cool interior? Or a car with 5 years/40,000 miles warranty? Or something else? Well I think both, a great car and a top notch service, but that’s not all. Most of the time they are also looking to buy the experience, the experience of owning and driving this car. Many times, great product and service just do not make it lucrative enough for the customer, and that’s where experience kicks in. In a market where there are many choices available, you need to differentiate your offering from the competitors’, and one way to do that is by hooking an experience with your offering.
So what is this marketing experience? You can think of this as just another form of de-commoditization. It’s like you are still selling a product coupled with service, but you are packaging it as something more. Something virtual that adds value to your offering. There are several ways of marketing experience. One way is to attach a story to the product, something that the prospective customer can connect with. By doing this, the product creates a special place for itself in the hearts and minds of the customers, and when they finally go to buy it, they are buying that experience.
Yet another way is by adding a vibe to it, like in case of Trader Joe’s: a classic example of marketing experience. People shop at Trader Joe’s because they trust the quality of products they get at this place and they experience shopping at Trader Joe’s as shopping at a local store, a store that does not have that big chain kind of feeling. So here we are talking about a company with about 300 stores nationwide, a chain enterprise with the highest sales per square foot numbers (about $1300 to $1400, compared to industry average of $400 to $500) in its class and yet creating an experience of the local grocery store, which forms the base for its success. And to make it more firm, here’s the tagline of Trader Joe’s: Your Neighborhood Grocery Store. That’s what is marketing experience at its best.
Marketing Experience goes even further. Companies sell experience of working at their company to prospective employees. Business schools attract top talent by selling experience of studying and networking at their schools. The army and the marines sell the experience to get the best of the best to join the forces. Politicians sell a dream of an experience, an experience of a better tomorrow, to buy the votes. The list goes on and on.
The basic strategy is to put the product aside and concentrate on marketing the experience. The experience that can be only filled when your product comes in picture. If you are successful enough to make customers look for that experience, your product will automatically sell.