to give people something different that they
can’t buy from another company. You must
give them the experience, and only you can
define what that is for your business.
Gilmore will share his ideas on the subject during the COSE education session,
“What Business Are You Really In?” on
June 7 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. He’ll talk
about why innovation is critical to success
and uncover new ways to create value for
“Experience allows you to better differentiate what you are offering to the
ultimate customer,” Gilmore says, offering these hints to COSE Update.
“NOW THAT WE ARE AUTOMATING OUR SERVICES,
WE NEED TO SHIFT TO EXPERIENCES.”
—JIM GILMORE, STRATEGIC HORIZONS
dane service they offer, but Geek Squad
brings an element that differentiates their
offering,” Gilmore says.
USER EXPERIENCE. So, how do you fit into
the new economy? Companies that provide commoditized services that are widely
available, and that compete with a slew of
similar businesses based mostly on price,
must find a way to make their experience
different than the rest. Every service from
lawn maintenance to dry cleaning to cable
will be challenged to think about how their
customers “user experience” can be better
than the competition.
What’s your angle? It could be as
simple as time. Gilmore uses Geek Squad
as an example of a technology services
firm that does more than just set up
televisions, fix computers or wire cable.
“They charge a flat fee, and there is a
consideration for the time spent with the
technicians—it’s not just about going
in and fixing a computer,” he says. The
technicians are smartly dressed as detectives. They’re professional. They’re handy.
They’re personable. It’s not your typical
tech experience. They’re figuring out your
problem and solving it (with no worry of
building up hours of fees). “It’s a mun-
CUSTOMIZATION. There’s a difference
between customer satisfaction and what
Gilmore talks about: customer sacrifice.
“Customer satisfaction is the gap or
difference between what the customer
expects and what they get,” he says.
“Customer sacrifice is the gap between
what people settle for and what they want
The fact is, people compromise what
they want exactly all the time. And when
companies realize this, they can gain the
upper hand in the market place. The key
“Customization is a huge thing today
because different customers want different
things,” Gilmore says. “It is increasingly
difficult to grow your business if you go
to market with the same, standardized
thing for everyone—you’re designing for
And then it’s likely that your customers
are sacrificing what they really want.
So consider how you can customize
the products you offer and essentially de-commoditize your offering. Take a lesson
from Build-A-Bear, which gives customers
the opportunity to create their own teddy
bear by making choices about size, color,
clothing, etc. “Their success is in the fact
that they are giving people the experience
of making their own vs. buying off the
shelf,” Gilmore says.
AUTHENTICITY. Now, how do you apply
the experience you offer to your marketing efforts? If the purpose is to sell more,
you’ve got to find a way to show potential
clients the value. And it’s a lot easier than
you might think.
“If you have a marketable product,
people will find out about you,” Gilmore
says, borrowing a quote from Robert
Stephens, founder of Geek Squad, who
said: Advertising is the price you pay for
not being marketable.
“Consider what you can offer that
creates buzz and demand as opposed to
changing the message about what you offer,” Gilmore says. Change to create buzz,
don’t alter the message of the same old
and expect new results. Gilmore points
to his book, Authenticity: What Customers
“It’s time to do something different in
terms of what you offer,” Gilmore urges.
Now is the time to think about how your
company fits into the new economy and
what you can do to capture customers
today who want an experience. ●
WHAT BUSINESS ARE
YOU REALLY IN?
DATE: THURSDAY, JUNE 7
TIME: 8 A.M.-NOON
PLACE: LOCKKEEPERS, VALLEY VIEW
PRICE: $25 MEMBERS, $40 NONMEMBERS