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When a business begins to develop a marketing message, the natural instinct is to talk about the business.  After all, you’ve poured a lot of blood, sweat and tears into making that business what it is.  You take a lot of pride in what you’ve built and you want people to see how wonderful your business is.  One problem – nobody cares about your business.  At least not yet.

Now don’t be offended.  That doesn’t mean your business isn’t worth talking about.  It just means that people won’t care about your business until you’ve shown what your business can do for them.  Ultimately, they’re not buying your product.  They’re buying the results of using your product – the experience.

WHAM!

As difficult as it may be, you need to detach yourself from your business, step into the shoes of your audience, and look at your business from their perspective.  It’s a timeless experiential marketing exercise called the WHAM principle – Why and How does this Affect Me?  Instead of talking about your business, talk about what your business can do for your audience.

When you sell the experience, it allows people to envision a problem being solved or a need being filled in their lives.  As an emotional bond begins to take form, your product becomes relevant.

Let’s say you’re trying to attract couples to your luxury hotel for a romantic getaway.  Don’t talk about your hotel.  Talk about the experience of staying in your hotel.

Don’t talk about your five-star restaurant.  Talk about my romantic dinner.

Don’t talk about the soaking tub with 12 massage jets.  Talk about my stress melting away during my steamy bubble bath massage.

Don’t talk about your feather pillows and 800 thread count linens.  Talk about my luxurious night’s sleep.

Don’t talk about your room service.  Talk about how I’ll have a fresh Belgian waffle, piping hot gourmet coffee and neatly folded newspaper waiting for me in the morning at the time of my choosing.

When you focus on your audience and tap into their emotions, they buy because they want your product, not because they need it.  They become drawn to your business – yes, like a magnet.  This leads to repeat business, referrals, positive reviews and loyalty.  When they buy because of a price gimmick, any perceived loyalty will end when someone else comes up with a better gimmick (ie: lower price).

The Lure of the Experience

Top brands are putting more emphasis than ever on creating a compelling customer experience.  While some doom-and-gloomers have predicted that online sales would be the downfall of brick-and-mortar stores, only a small percentage of all retail sales actually happen online.  Why?  The experience.  Being able to grab hold of something, play with it, try it on, give it a test drive.

Need proof?  An internet company is in the process of building their first ever brick-and-mortar store.  You may have heard of them – a small up-and-comer named Amazon.

With billions of dollars in online sales, why are they testing physical stores?  Well, it could have something to do with the fact that Apple Stores are the most profitable stores in America, with $5,626 in sales per square foot, nearly double that of the second place Tiffany.  But they also realize that the lure of the experience is critical to selling products like smartphones, tablets and other gadgets.

For a more time-honored example, look at auto dealerships.  Those salespeople want to get you behind the wheel because they know a test drive increases the chance that you’ll buy a car by 50%.  Why?  Because you get to experience what it would be like to own the car.  If only more auto dealers would sell the experience instead of shouting sales gimmicks and clichés – but that’s a topic for another day.

The experience is what people buy.  And crave.  Sell that experience, deliver an experience that they’ll never forget, and you’ll have a customer for life.