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The mega multinational organization that many blamed for the crushing of 1000’s of mom and pop bookstores throughout the nation just did something very interesting… They opened a bookstore.
Clearly Jeff Bezos is no dummy, as Amazon is slowly creating an online footprint that reaches almost all of us. Who hasn’t ordered something from Amazon lately? So what gives?
Millennials are the largest generation our country has ever seen. And with every new generation, certain aspects of life, culture and business change. Measured at over 50 million, this group is going to shape how you run your business whether you like it or not. And as usual, some companies will be ahead of the curve, and some will fall behind. We all know what happens to the ones that fall behind. Sorry, Kodak.
With this in mind, what is Amazon thinking? Why would they break from their proven model and jump into the very business that they were positioning themselves against? As stated earlier, Bezos is not an idiot.
Welcome to the Experience Economy.
Amazon realizes that while digital is taking over every aspect of our lives- shopping, communication, work, etc etc etc, there is – and always will be – the need for that physical aspect of life. There will never be a time where there are no parks, where people stay inside and do nothing but surf and chat online. Humans love interaction, and while digital provides immediate access anywhere in the world, it is still not a substitute for the real deal.
The experience economy realizes that while digital is taking over, simply having a store no longer provides the entire experience. Everyone knows that people go to Best Buy, look at items, and then buy them on their phone instead of in the store. So where does that leave Best Buy? A gala to showcase online competitor’s products to the masses, for free? This is why stores have to provide something more than just the product. There has to be more. There needs to be interactive aspects, discounts for loyalty programs, product exchanges and Geek Squads. Best Buy is attempting to get out in front of this trend. We will see where they are in 10 years.
Amazon is an interesting example in experience economy discussions because they are coming at it from the opposite perspective. Do large companies that are 100% online now need to get some type of physical footprint out into the community, in order to strengthen the customer/brand loyalty, create meaningful experiences and potentially increase their overall effectiveness? Amazon thinks so.
So What Does the Experience Economy Mean for Your Company?
It means it has to be about more than just selling and pushing your product down the throats of anyone who walks by. Millennials have grown up with a lot, saving for items isn’t really something that is part of their vocabulary. They take the products and the ability to buy them for granted, and are obviously overwhelmed at the amount of communications coming at them from advertisers (but they handle it better. Note to cold callers: If you hit me up, and I say no thanks, and you simply hang up instead of saying good bye, expect a call back. For all the wrong reasons.)
Here’s a few things you can do to incorporate the experience economy into your company:
Digital Experience: Social Media Interaction.
No we don’t mean post stuff on there, and bash your fans over the head with offers. We mean real interaction. Meaningful interaction. Yes the experience economy requires something physical, but social is the tool to communicate that and then interact once they are there. A post to Instagram with a certain tag could be something that gets the waiter to take 5% off of a bill, creates a lasting memory for the customers, and also helps spread your message (assuming the experience was not horrible!)
Behind the Scenes Experience: Bring the Customers In.
Have a tour day at your shop. Do a weekly giveaway after your Friday afternoon barbeques. Do something. Get your face out there, and once it is, ask people to come and party at your place. Mi Casa Su Casa.
Process Experience: Create the Path and Lead.
If you offer several services, products, etc, create an experience out the journey of trying them all. If you offer multiple home owner services, do a promotion each month that will take them through the entire house. March is tree trimming, April is gutter cleaning, etc. Make it a journey and give rewards as they complete it. Get clever.
Leverage Experience: Who Vouches For You?
Millennials hate being sold to for the most part. But as usual, testimonials hold power. In the age of video, the written testimonials on your page will not be sufficient. But video of those who are looked at in high regard – and endorse your product – will get tremendous results. Instead of looking for sponsor companies, create a sponsor list of influencers in your industry. Find a way to get them exposure while getting yourself exposure and everyone should go home happy.
Amazon realizes that while a completely online experience is great for efficiencies and reducing major expenses, it needs to have the other half. It needs to be tangible in some form in order to create real tangible content for its marketing, it’s relationships and its brand.
Chances are your business is not 100% online. If that is the case, the experience economy is ripe for the taking and you would be wise to find a way to incorporate it into your usual business model. And like all things advertising, consistency is key. Get on a schedule, make it consistent, and watch your brand take off.