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Customers are no longer concerned merely to satisfy their basic needs. They want to take consumption process to a higher level - they want to have an emotional connection with the brand they are buying from. They want to experience something worth remembering and live better lives. That’s why you need to meet your clients’ needs not just rationally, but also emotionally. You have to create memorable lasting experiences.
Connecting with customers
Apple Store employees allow customers to do things nobody would expect, like recording a dance in the middle of the store or bringing dogs and cats with to the store. They create unique atmosphere so people coming to the Apple Store don’t feel like it’s a place where they can just buy something. They feel like it’s a fun place to be.
Mark Malkoff from mydamnchannel.com went even further as he made an Apple Store Challenge. He decided to check how far he can push Apple Store employees. He ordered a pizza, organized a romantic date and even brought a goat into the store. Look how it turned out for him:
That’s the place where people want to come back. Ron Johnson, former Apple Senior VP of Retail Operations, said: “Apple is not focused on selling stuff but on building relationships with customers and making people's lives better.” You can see that while talking to the employees.
Apple employees are huge fans of the brand and that makes them true ambassadors. They talk about the benefits of the products from their own experience. Instead of talking about product parameters, they can easily show how a product will improve your life. They don’t sell anything. They want customers to feel better when they leave the store.
Creating that kind of emotional connection is a great complement to already great products. Because of this combination Apple faithful followers line up outside the stores each time the company launches a new product. They will buy one, no matter the price. At that point the decision comes from heart and is a result of a connection with the brand.
A good product can be really successful once people feel an emotional connection with it. If we take a closer look at the car industry, we can see that each car manufacturer is positioning the brand to such features as speed, efficiency, reliability or safety. They all are creating their own image by selling different experiences, referring to people’s specific needs.
Volvo has always put emphasis on safety. Concern about safety can be a means to advertise, because it relates to strong emotions. Especially when it comes to parents.
That’s why Volvo has teamed up with Lego to attract children to drive a pretend Volvo car made out from oversized Lego bricks. During the ride, children learn the importance of using seat belts and obeying traffic rules.
This partnership is a natural extension of the two family-oriented brands. It’s also an addition to Volvo’s Drive for Life program, that focuses on drivers behavior and safety. It’s a great way to promote safety around children.
Through the years Volvo developed increasingly better protection for people in case of an accident. People who drive it feel more safe. They are aware of Volvo’s innovations in automotive safety and know that Volvo cars offer better chances of survival in case of an accident. It doesn’t matter if they read about it or heard about it from somebody else. The moment they start to associate Volvo with safety, that’s when emotions get involved.
That leads to a buying decision, usually right after you build a house in the suburbs and start a family. This perception is rooted in the society’s thoughts and circulates in the form of social stories.
Ultimately, this kind of story behind the brand is good, because the more customers talk about the product and recommend it, the more people will try it, and eventually, buy it.
Social stories and recommendations also work great in other industries. Restaurants, coffee shops and pubs rely heavily on the word of mouth. It’s a result of good customer service they provide. Quite often me and my friends share stories about funny or inspiring moments at Starbucks.
One time I was looking at a coffee maker they were selling. A barista came to me and, without me even asking, said: “If you want to buy a coffee maker I recommend going to IKEA. You get the same thing for half the price. I recently bought one, it’s great.” I was surprised with his honesty. He really got me. That’s the story that stuck in my head that I like to share.
Every time I go to Starbucks I experience something nice. Whether I get tips on brewing coffee or I get to make a customized coffee that’s not on the menu. And let me tell you – it’s really unusual for me to order a coffee from the menu. Most of the time I create my own mix by talking to a barista. Sometimes they offer me a brand new coffee to try. If I don’t like it, they make me a different one.
Situations like these have a big impact on the rest of the day and are a perfect examples of evoking positive emotions in the clients. Starbucks is about funny small talks, a positive communication and an expensive coffee. But who cares about the last one? You’re okay with the price because of the experience that comes with it. And you keep coming back – for a coffee with an extra smile.
Can you feel it?
Products are just a part of the package now. Emotional aspects of brands become major drivers of buying choice. To win the hearts of your customers, you need to do things that will emotionally connect them to the brand.
Instead of figuring out how to sell something to somebody, focus on how you want your customers to feel. Ask questions like “how does it make you feel?” rather than “what do you think about it?”
Create experiences and connect with customers instead of competing with the price. People love brands that make them feel better, even with simple things such as phones or a coffee. If you manage to do that, you might just be able to gain a lifelong customer.
Photo courtesy of Steve Rhodes and dolanh via Creative Commons.