“Stealing an Experience” is completely different at the consumer and professional levels. At the consumer level, it might mean watching two movies on one ticket or peeking your head under a circus tent. At the professional level, “Stealing an Experience” happens when brand, marketing, and leadership professionals take ideas from experiences they see at other brands and try to put them, as is, into their own. Examples include the quick copy-catting in the mix-in yogurt business (how many are now within a few miles of where you live and work?) and in the doggy day care business (they even have franchises for that!).
Many marketing, brand, and business leaders can shortcut a slow, painful, expensive, and failure-ridden experimentation process by learning that
Copying experiences doesn’t work.
- Success or failure with an experience depends, in large part, on the capabilities and constraints of the business. Mashing up (a tech term for blending two or more web services together) the experience from one company into the infrastructure of another doesn’t usually work without major adjustments. At that point, you’ve got a different experience anyway.
- The delivery of experiences, their character and charm if you will, depends on the culture of each organization. To understand this point, imagine a Wal-Mart greeter working at an Apple Store. Or a Ritz Carlton Concierge working at Motel 6. See? They just don’t pair up nicely.
- The essence of an experience is how it makes customers, guests, patients, or clients feel. Those feelings come from the design, intention, and delivery of the service and from how (and how much) much employees care. As an example, remember how the major theme parks began to focus on the pre-ride experience to bring riders into the story and to cut perceived wait times.
Advice for those considering copying others’ experiences.
- Trade ‘copying’ time for learning-more-about-your-own-customers time
- Get to know what they truly want (rationally and emotionally) then get creative about how to deliver it
- Once you fully understand the outcomes your customers want most, focus on becoming the best at delivering those outcomes
- Deliver those outcomes based on criteria that bring value to customers, meaning to employees, and profit to the business at the same time (yes, all three at the same time-that’s the secret to good experience design)
Caroline McHugh, founder of ID-OLOGY and author of “Never Not A Lovely Moon” (a book about the art of being yourself which works equally well for brands as it does for individuals) highlighted this quote by Jim Jarmush…
“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-LucGodard said: ‘It’s not where you take things from, it’s where you take them to.’”