Marketing: Are You Experienced?

What is “experience marketing”? At a Thursday morning seminar, Holly Wesche Conn, of Wesche Jewelers in Melbourne, Fla., said it is “to consciously work to create a specific type of experience for the customers in your store.” Quoting marketing guru and best-selling author Jack Trout, Wesche Conn cautioned her audience, “Differentiate or die.”

The main components of experience marketing are the physical environment of your store (architecture, layout, decor, showcase presentation, amenities, maintenance, and cleanliness) and store personnel. But first, Wesche Conn said, define your experience. Exclude universals of providing value and customer service, and focus on what makes you distinct.

Wesche Conn used Wesche Jewelers, founded by her parents Jim and June Wesche in 1977, to illustrate experience marketing. Wesche’s goals, she said, are to “provide customers with feelings that they are in a luxury resort hotel with a Mediterranean flair,” “invite the customer to explore and discuss,” and “promote their company history, jewelry expertise, and reputation in the community.”

Supporting the Wesche Jewelers’ concept is a harmonious and meticulous attention to detail. Wesche Conn walked retailers through her store, starting with external music and a two-story atrium at the entrance. She highlighted company history, credentials, and expertise, which cultivates both human-interest stories and professionalism. Store features include a fully branded Swarovski room, a Hearts On Fire alcove, a goldsmiths’ observatory window, a window into the vault, commemorative plaques and news clippings, customer photos, and a “brag board.” Special amenities include an extensive beverage bar, a children’s area, baby-changing area, meeting room available to nonprofits, and umbrellas. Wesche’s has a “hospitality mentality,” providing service and convenience, and anticipating customer needs. “It’s all the little things that add up to a big store experience,” Wesche Conn said.

She offered jewelry retailers tips for creating their own experience:
* Decide on a theme or vision, and brainstorm specifics to create it;
* Articulate (continually) your vision;
* Make sure the physical environment and behavior of store personnel are consistent with the experience;
* Have multiple features and elements that support your vision;
* Make every feature the best you possibly can (“You’re better off not to have it than to do it poorly”);
* Maintain consistency and attention to detail;
* Keep evaluating and look for new experiences.

Since experiences are sensory, keep in mind sight (general design and layout, showcase presentation, staff appearance, store cleanliness), sound (music choice, goldsmiths’ noise, phones/intercoms, staff chatter, external noise), smell (fresh flowers, aromatherapy, food odors, bathrooms, exterior odors), taste (food and beverage offerings), and touch (rich textures of materials).

Wesche Conn advised retailers ask themselves: Is your experience enjoyable, unique and interesting, memorable, and consistent with your theme or vision? “Don’t think just in terms of the physical; think of the behavior as well. … How does the staff make the customer feel?”