California Connect|Regional Economic Alliances|Business Resources|Careers|Automotive|Energy/Environment|Travel|Entertainment
more sections: 
Featured Advertisement
Business Builder
By: Michael Cooney

How to Create an Army of Evangelists Promoting Your Business
Lessons from an $880,000 Wristwatch

Consumers and companies are still buying—just not as much. It’s up to you, then, to switch to a game plan that will capture greater market share. But how?

Here’s a strategy that works in all economies to give you a decided advantage over your competitors. B2B or B2C. And it can bring you a dedicated army of loyal evangelists promoting your business.

Let’s agree to define “product” as a more basic, common item within a category. Examples: A Nissan Versa sedan at $12,000. A Timex watch at $30. A Motel 6 room for $55.

All provide perfectly good functionality. However, you may not find buyers of these shouting from the rooftops “You’ve GOT to try this!” or “Go to that place—you’ll LOVE it!”

Want comments like those? Then you must look at what the wealthy buy, and more importantly, why they buy it. And while the lesson here is captured by studying the wealthy, it applies to customers of all income levels.

First, compare a Nissan Versa to a Lamborghini Murcielago. The Versa gets you from point A to point B easily and reliably. So does the Lamborghini. But the experience in-between point A and point B is entirely different!

Lamborghini puts a wailing 12-cylinder, 631 horsepower engine right behind your ears. Its high-RPM shriek is like getting an injection of adrenalin straight into the heart. Blinding acceleration adds to the fun, of course. Add fragrant hand-stitched leather interiors, beautiful metalwork, other drivers pointing as you cruise by, crowds gathering wherever you park…all this is part of the Lamborghini experience.

And there—I just said the magic word—experience!

Why do the wealthy pay $355,000 for a Murcielago? ($458,000 for the convertible.) It’s not to just get from point A to point B. It’s because the Lamborghini gives its owner an experience he or she simply could not get in a Nissan Versa.

Take wrist watches. A $30 Timex keeps accurate time. So why on earth would someone pay $518,000 for Patek Philippe’s 5074R Repeater or $880,000 for Piaget’s Limelight Elongated Cushion? Again, each gives its owner an experience a Timex can’t deliver. The satisfaction of owning the finest, hand-crafted and extremely rare, the knowing nods of approval from peers—a satisfying experience.

Hotel rooms? Yes, Motel 6 serves a good purpose.

So why do the wealthy spend $34,500 for one night in the Ty Warner Suite at the Four Seasons New York? If you said it’s because of the experience, you’re right! The pampering, the personal staff assigned only to you, heated towels, the spaciousness, breathtaking views … all this and more contribute to an exceptional experience not available at Motel 6.

Nissan Versa: product. Lamborghini Murcielago: experience! Timex: product. Piaget Limelight: experience! Motel 6: product. Ty Warner Suite: experience! People don’t talk much about products, do they? But they rave about experiences!

So … here are the two Big Reasons to “think experience.”
1) When you move an item from product to experience, you can move the price and profits up. Why? Because a product’s price is objective—largely set by the competition. The value of an experience is subjective, and based more on emotion. You set the price based on perceived value. And everyone, not just the wealthy, will pay more for meaningful or fun experiences. Disneyland, anyone?
2) When a product (or service) becomes an experience, people talk about it! And there’s your very own army of evangelists.

What can you do, then, to give your customers or clients an experience they’ll be raving about to their friends or associates?

Create an online community for sharing experiences had with your offerings. Send hand-written thank-you notes. Host a special event for your best clients—and invite prospective clients to join in so they hear lots of good things about your business!

Invite key customers in for a new product preview party. Or get them involved in shaping future products. They’ll feel honored. And they’ll talk about it!

Build a lifestyle around your company. Hold a sale, then invite your best customers to a private opening a day early. Take your popular product and develop a spectacular, low-volume version that creates a magnificent experience!

Move what you’re doing far beyond the ordinary. Then you’ll find that your clients can’t wait to tell others about you (and they’ll even pay more for the privilege!).

Michael Cooney
Global Brand
Development, a
Marketing and
Consulting group
(818) 522-19970