Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Rocking the Experience

Business authors Joe Pine and James Gilmore nailed it over a decade ago.

Like a classic David Lee Roth leap off the drum riser, Pine & Gilmore slammed a power chord into the heart of any seamless brand when they published "The Experience Economy: Work is Theater & Every Business a Stage".

Pine & Gilmore insist: “Businesses that relegate themselves to the diminishing world of goods and services will be rendered irrelevant. To avoid this fate, you must learn to stage a rich, compelling experience.”

Flipping the channels last week, I was reminded why creating the "experience" is critical when targeting Boomer consumers. When the remote stumbled on "Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp", I was hooked, and it's easy to understand why.

Most Boomers already own too much stuff. Cars, homes, furniture, audio systems, big screen TV's, computers and other boring, traditional stuff. They're craving for something else. Whether it's something more spiritial or something that is over-the-top electric; Boomers will happily buy high voltage experiences, creating enduring memories.

For example, rock music and Boomers go hand in hand like peas and carrots. It's a common thread that would connect a Toronto accountant to a Tennesse truck driver. For Boomers, rock n'roll is memories and money, idealism and capitalism.

Long before they became doctors, lawyers or business owners, they played in garage bands and dreamed of becoming rock stars.

Created by David Fishof, a former sports agent, Rock Camp gives participants a week-long journey into music nirvana. Wannabe rock legends practice side-by-side with an ever-changing cast of celebrities acting as coaches such as Slash of Guns N’ Roses, Jack Bruce of Cream, Roger Daltry of The Who, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, and even Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones. After six days of long rehearsals and collaboration with fellow campers, their "experience" culminates with a concert for friends and family members. And for the low, low price of $10,000, it is more than worth it for the rancher and amateur drummer from Durango, Colorado who proclaimed, “I’m at a point in my life where I’m going to spend my money on things I’m passionate about, and I’m absolutely crazy about music.”

If you were shelling out 10-grand, which rock star would you hang out with and learn from for an entire week?

According to Pine and Gilmore, transformation experiences have four key ingredients:

•Entertainment: To a rock idol wannabe, not much is more entertaining than jamming with peers under the tutelage of classic rock legends.

•Esthetic: Rock Camp gives participants complete immersion into the lifestyle of rock stars, from grueling hours of practice and rehearsal to recording sessions in legendary studios, to a final coming-out concert.

•Escape: Could any experience offer more escape-from-humdrum potential than hanging out and playing music with Roger Daltry or Steven Tyler?

•Education: Six days provide only a brief journey into the rock lifestyle, but these students are ready and the teachers who come are the best in the business, so undoubtedly, everyone receives a boost in their skills.

What could your brand do to incorpate these four, core attributes?

Are there immersive, cathartic, transformative and potentially life changing "experiences" you could create for customers who are more than willing to pay?

And how could your business and brand benefit from becoming "experienced"?

"I looked at Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and the boys up there thinking, I want to be that"

P.S.... Any business model - from driving taxi, serving tacos or teaching golf - can be transformed into an "experience". Here is another example of how you can make that happen from one of the original authors.

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