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You’ve heard the old adage “Stop to smell the roses,” right? Well, I’ve come to learn that when life hands you those “moments,” it’s best to slow down, savor them and commit them to memory. They only come around once! And when you make a conscious effort to put yourself in that moment and really experience it with all your senses, you can recall that memory in an instant, and “re-savor” it. How can this relate to your business? Let’s try a little experiment. Close your eyes and think back to a particularly happy moment in your life. Picture where you were, what you were doing, and who was with you. What happens when you think hard about that moment? Are the details sharp and clear? I’ll bet that for those really good memories, you can even recall smells and the sense of touch or taste—things that trigger an emotional lift and make you smile. Now think about when you last had a fun experience while shopping. Perhaps you were at an event, or browsing a brick-and-mortar store… what products come to mind? What details do you remember about the experience? When you’re thinking about “branding” your business (and it doesn’t matter if you sell cupcakes or care-giving services), think about providing your customers with the kind of experiences that they will want to savor, because that’s a foot in the door to building a long-lasting relationship with them. What can you do that will make them want to stop and savor your “moments?”
A friend of mine (I’ll call her Sally) used to own a small gourmet gift shop in a tourist town, and she gave me a good example of how she built “experience” into her retail shop. In addition to gourmet baking mixes and other packaged food items, Sally sold coffee beans and chocolate-covered berries by the pound, scented candles, hand-crafted pottery and wooden musical instruments. When you walked into her store, the first thing that hit you was a delicious combination of scents—an open invitation to explore further. Sally brewed pots of gourmet coffee and gave away sample cups, displayed the bright-colored candies in old-fashioned glass jars, and played soft music throughout the store from the instruments she sold. “We designed the shop with fun cabinets and unusual shelves, so people could ‘discover’ things in nooks and crannies,” she told me. She tried to make the whole shop a sensory experience, from designing unusual displays to offering tasting samples—even demonstrating to people how to play the instruments.

“It worked like magic, because people enjoyed themselves,” she said. “We built relationships with customers that lasted for years, and they brought in their friends and family members. Sometimes I wouldn’t see a customer for a long time, but the next time they walked in the shop they had a friend in tow, and made a bee-line right for the candy section—or the musical instrument case—because that fun experience they had last time was still in their minds, and they wanted to share it. For me, that was the fun part of owning the shop… the relationships.”

Think about how Sally built her “brand” by offering her customers pleasant experiences that they turned into memories. How could you do the same thing for your business? Which senses could you involve, and how could you “trigger” them?

Even if you don’t have a brick-and-mortar store like Sally, here are a few ideas to get you thinking about ways to build experience around your brand:

  • Empathize with your consumer’s frustrations
  • Celebrate their successes
  • Give them memorable experiences when they interact with you or any employees
  • Show you’re human by sharing, caring and interacting… always with a SMILE
  • Ask questions, respond to their answers every time… then ask them more questions

No matter what type of business you have, start thinking about how you can offer enjoyable and memorable experiences for your customers. Help them to slow down and savor those moments, and the relationships you build can last a lifetime!

Originally posted at Collective Bias


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