One of the sessions I sat through at the recent CCEO Summer Conference was called "Supercharging Your Events & Non-Dues Revenue" conducted by Kordell Norton. I have listened to Mr. Norton speak at least three or four times over the past four years and I aways take away something interesting from his presentations. Check out his site here.
He began the session talking about the progression of our economy. To illustrate his point, he used birthday cakes as an example. He began his story with "back in the old days . . ." and said that birthday cakes were made from scratch. The next step took us to a Commodity Economy where stores began selling cake mixes in a box. Pretty simple. The next progression happened when everyone became "too busy", so they go to a store and pick up a cake already made (I have to admit that I am a good example of this story. I used to bake all of my cakes - now I let Giant Eagle do it for me).
But where we are today, according to Mr. Norton, is in an Experiences Economy. People will now go to a place like Chuck E. Cheese and pay to have an entire birthday experience, complete with the birthday cake.
Starbucks would be another good example of this concept. So the challenge becomes how do you leave a lasting impression on your customers to keep them coming back? Give them a memorable experience. Give them something that your competition isn't doing. It doesn't have to be elaborate, but it needs to be memorable. Think of an event or a place that you went to that you can't wait to attend or experience again and ask yourself why you felt that way. Then see if there is someway to incorporate that into your business/marketing plan. In this type of economy, you have to figure out ways to stand out.
Give your customers a reason to return.