The world of entrepreneurship is brutal.
Anyone who has ever attempted to start their own business can vouch for this.
Roughly 20% of new businesses will fail within the first year of operation. 50% will go out of business by year five and only 30% of businesses will march past their ten-year marker.
These statistics hold true irrespective of economic climate which tells us that the vast majority of businesses fail due to internal issues as opposed to external anomalies.
This could be a number of reasons including, lack of vision, poor management skills, poor customer service, marketing blunders and a slew of other elements that could spell the doom of any company.
One thing that we need to understand about today’s consumer market is that people buy “expectations” more than the product or the solution itself.
They wish to relate to the solution provider in a more intimate fashion; purchase from someone who reflects their own ‘views of the world’.
They purchase a ‘way of life’ they believe to be far better than the one they are currently experiencing.
The modern consumer is becoming more ‘expectant’ of their solution providers. Whether or not a company is socially responsible, environmentally friendly or respects the belief systems of their employees play a major factor in whether a potential lead turns into a customer.
When “The Experience” Becomes the Product…
The concept of “Experience Economy” was first officially introduced in 1998 by Joseph Pine and James Gilmore and focuses on businesses creating ‘memorable events’ in the minds of their consumers.
This memorable event attaches itself to the product or service that is being offered creating ‘added value’ that will incentivize the consumer to continue supporting the brand.
While that might sound like a mouthful, let me break it down for you.
A practical example
Business A and Business B offer the exact same product. Let’s say…. Pizza [Everybody loves pizza]
The ingredients are exactly the same, the prices are on par and their delivery time is very similar. The only difference between the two is that Business A has all their delivery people dress up like classic Italian chefs whereas Business B simply delivers the old traditional way.
The experience of a stereotypical Italian Chef delivering your Pizza creates a more memorable experience in your mind. The next time you’re thinking of ordering in, which one of the two businesses would you choose?
Most people would go for the value added experience.
Even if the pizza was $1 more expensive, people would still choose the big fat Chef over the typical delivery boy.
This is essentially the Experience Economy in a nutshell.
People tend to flock to a value-added experience over a regular product. Anything with a little extra “zing” will always outsell a “zing-less” product.
However, the “Experience” isn’t the game changer. We’ve been doing experience economy for 20 years and virtually all brands add a bit of spice to their products or services because they understand that customers buy experiences over solutions.
Companies work hard on crafting positive experiences within their sales funnels and consumer interactions, they build on the positive narrative and validate the positive experience.
You Can Only be Surprised Once
Once a person experiences something for the first time, they create a record in their mind.
The novelty of the surprise wears off. If that person is frequently exposed to the positive experience, the experience becomes an expectation – usually implicit.
This means that every time the consumer interacts with your brand, they will expect a certain experience; friendly customer service reps, quick problem solving, etc.
If any of these elements does not live up to their expectation of your service or product, it will redefine the way they approach your business. When this happens often enough, they will find other solution providers.
For some of you, this might be too much to handle. Managing the expectations of your clients seems like a full-time job. However, this isn’t necessarily true.
You can create systems, protocols and a corporate culture that ensures that client expectation management is part of the business model.
You have to take control of the narrative. You need to define the expectation for your clients and you do this by reinforcing positive experiences in a controlled fashion.
Let me walk you through it…
How to Use Client Expectations to Grow Your Business?
First of all, we need to understand that every market is different and every business is creating a unique expectation. Nonetheless, we can follow certain principles to ensure that we’re taking as much control of the narrative as possible.
Know Thy Clients
The first thing you absolutely MUST do is understand what your clients are expecting of you. There are many ways to go about this whether through post purchase surveys [which many people ignore], social media outreach or simply by asking a client.
If you’re dealing with clients, whether online or off, you can always shoot them a mail after they made a purchase and ask them their opinion, their experience and gather information. You will have to guess, based on the data, their median expectation of your business depending on their responses.
When you’ve gathered enough data on your consumer experiences, you can create a framework of implicit expectation.
Focus the Narrative
Now that you’ve understood what your clients are expecting from you, it’s time to cement that expectation in their minds. But how do you go about this? Quite simple actually. This becomes part of your marketing strategy.
You’ve done the deep dive into the mind of your consumer and you know what the average expectation of a typical client is. Use that to fuel your marketing campaigns. Focus on their pain points and address their expectations clearly in your future marketing material.
When you craft videos, take into consideration what your average customer will expect from your business and work it into the content. If it’s “clean offices”, then be sure to showcase that in your next collateral.
“Friendly customer service”, simply add in a smiling customer service rep in one of your videos. Create the expectation by cementing the experiences within the marketing material.
Reaffirm the Experience
Now that you’ve convinced a consumer to make a purchase with your brand, it’s time to up the game even more.
Post Sales is just as important as pre-sales, especially if you’re in the business of being in business past ten years.
In this phase of the sales experience, you’ll be adding additional value. Perhaps, it’s a free training webinar to let them utilize their shiny new toy the fullest, free added bonus packs or even a personal call from a sales rep to make sure the customer is satisfied.
All of these elements will help reaffirm the positive experience and cultivate “trust” in your company. As we know, trust is one of the most valuable currencies within business.
Turn them into Brand Evangelists
The final step is to turn your customers into marketing agents. The idea here is to completely take up all their mental real estate when it comes to your specific product or solution.
You do this by dazzling and delighting them so much in the previous phase, that they can’t but help tell their friends and colleagues about your awesome business.
“Nah man, get your pizzas from Business A, they have an Italian Chef deliver your Pizzas and they keep creating specials from 100-year-old Italian recipes…it’s awesome!”
The bottom-line is you start with experience – something eye-catching, something out of the ordinary to activate your buyers. But once you have their attention, you reinforce the expectation of the right kind of positive experiences through your marketing and deliver on the promise post the transaction.
There will be glitches of course. But get it right 80% of the time and you are ahead of your competitors.