It’s not enough for businesses to offer quality products or services. You need to go above and beyond and provide your target customers with memorable, engaging, emotionally resonant experiences. Indeed, so-called experiential selling is more vital than ever, especially in crowded or competitive niches.
But just what is experiential selling, and how can you reinvent your business plan to prioritize it? Read on to discover the answers to these questions and more.
Experiential selling explained
In a nutshell, experiential selling means creating an environment where customers can interact and engage with your products and services in enjoyable, informative, and memorable ways. In other words, it’s about selling your business’s wares by virtue of the experiences they’ll provide customers instead of other aspects.
Let’s say that you sell fitness apparel for workout enthusiasts. Instead of highlighting the raw practical value of the apparel — such as the materials, the durability, etc. — you could instead prioritize the experiences that your customers will have once they wear your fitness apparel.
You might craft ads or marketing materials highlighting:
- How good the fitness apparel looks
- How well the apparel feels on the skin
- How the fitness apparel wicks away sweat and excess moisture to provide better exercise experiences
By highlighting the experiences your customers can expect, they’ll be more inclined to give your products a try. More than that, your brand will feel different and unique compared to its competitors.
Why prioritize experiences for customers?
There are numerous benefits to highlighting experiences and practicing experiential selling, including:
- Higher sales over time. Many companies that adopt experiential selling and prioritize experiences in their business plans grow faster than their rivals. That’s because customers who have positive experiences — both before and after sales — are more likely to make initial and repeat purchases over the long term.
- Boosted customer loyalty via higher engagement. Getting the same core group of customers to come back again and again and make repeat purchases is vital for long-term profits and revenue stability. By highlighting experiences over items, your customers will feel more loyal to your brand and repeatedly return for more.
- Effective word-of-mouth marketing. When a customer has a positive experience at your business, they have an emotional reaction. That emotional reaction will likely compel them to tell their friends, family members, and coworkers about your brand. In other words, highlighting experiences for your customers could help you market more cost-effectively than ever before.
Developing a plan for prioritizing customer experiences is important, especially in an area where consumer optimism, in general, has been plummeting in the face of inflation and soaring prices. In the United Kingdom, for instance, the retail sales index (which includes both in-store and online sales) has fallen by 9.5% over the last two years and is continuing its downward trend. In the United States, retail sales recently saw their biggest drop in over a year.
Customers are simply being forced to be more careful about their spending than in previous years because inflation has reduced the value of their disposable capital. But focusing on experiences where customers can engage with your product before buying is one of the best strategies for proving to them that your product is even worth spending their hard-earned money on in the first place.
So, how can you refocus your business plan to focus more on customer experiences? Let’s dive into this next.
How to refocus your business plan
Fortunately, you don’t have to completely tear your business plan out of the ground or redo your marketing materials. To refocus your business plan on experiences, you must practice three key strategies and approaches.
Gather customer data
First and foremost, you’ll want to gather extensive customer data on your target audience members. By gathering as much data as possible, you’ll better understand what your customers are looking for in terms of experiences and emotional satisfaction.
For example, if you determine that your customers don’t care so much about price as they do about social points or great experiences from products, you may learn things like:
- You can improve the quality of your products and raise the prices of those products slightly while still keeping your customer base.
- You should tweak your marketing campaign to highlight the positive experiences that buyers receive when they buy your products.
More than anything, gathering more customer data will help you better get into the minds of those core consumers whom you need to attract. You can gather customer data by purchasing it from third-party firms or by gathering it from customers who already shop at your store. No matter where you get it, be sure to analyze it thoroughly.
Double down on personalization
Personalization is an important element in modern marketing, and there’s a good reason for that: people care about it.
Personalization is the art (and science) of showing your target consumers that you think of them as more than “standard” customers. Instead, you show them that you care about them as people, highlighting their unique wants, needs, and problems.
There are lots of different ways in which you can double down on personalization, such as:
- Referring to a customer by their first name, which you can get from previous purchases or email newsletters.
- Providing customers with personalized product recommendations based on previous purchase history or stated requirements/wants.
- Giving customers personalized discounts and perks. This is often best implemented through a loyalty program. It can do wonders to improve satisfaction and experience positivity among your most loyal, repeat customers.
By practicing these strategies, each customer who interacts with your brand will walk away thinking that they had a good experience with your business. They’ll feel seen, heard, and tailored, which will make them more likely to come back or make an initial purchase.
Sell experiences to target consumers
Most importantly, try to sell customer experiences through your marketing materials and ad copy. More than anything else, this will help you focus on experiential selling and maximize the value of the experience in your overall business plan.
For example, draw up some new advertisement materials that highlight the experiences or positive emotional reactions that customers feel when they buy your products. Once you have those ads ready, put them on your digital ad platforms, social media, Google, or elsewhere, and see how they perform.
Measure the ads’ performances and:
- Implement the highest-performing ads elsewhere.
- Take lessons from the advertisements so you can leverage those same ideas in future marketing materials.
By selling experiences to your customers, they’ll know right from the get-go that you offer something unique and novel compared to your competitors. You don’t just sell the same products that other businesses in your industry produce; you provide worthwhile experiences that are memorable and emotionally interesting. That’s an invaluable benefit in a competitive market environment.
It may be worthwhile to review your overall business plan and customer journey maps. Ask yourself whether an experience is the focus of each stage of a prospective customer’s journey. If it’s not, consider taking steps like:
- Redesigning your website so it’s more navigable
- Choosing a new domain name so it is memorable and interesting to customers (giving them a positive experience from the get-go)
- Offering stellar customer service and revamping your customer service team to provide good support to customers who have already purchased products
Are you ready to give your business a boost?
Ultimately, by prioritizing experiential selling, your business will enjoy better customer loyalty, acquire new customers faster than ever, and build a stronger reputation than before. Implementing the above strategies into your business plan will do wonders to help you focus on experiences and reap the rewards.