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7 Truths of the Encounter Economy

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Written by: Scott Davis 

As I explained in the recent post, The Encounter Economy Has Arrived, we’ve entered an era where consistent value delivery is not enough for a business to succeed anymore. Where even the happiest customers bounce from one great experience to the next, maybe to never return. In this world, you have to make sure every touchpoint is a powerful standalone encounter “for the ages.” The following truths of the Encounter Economy will spell doom for some businesses, while others will thrive. Let them be a guide for your brand and seize this opportunity to capture hearts (and the wallets attached to them).

#1: The Internet is a giant trampoline

Bounce, bounce, bounce. Ever been to one of those warehouses that’s wall-to-wall trampoline? Yeah, the Internet is just like that. Bouncing, flipping, pretending you can dunk a basketball. All really fun! And then you try to stand still or walk a straight line, and it’s nearly impossible. How many times have you opened your browser with purpose, only to get distracted before even completing the task at hand? Happens to me A LOT. Sometimes I make it to the right place but then another tab calls my name and boom, I’m gone. Your customer or prospect is doing the same thing.

#2: It is OK to ignore your competitors so long as you know you’re competing

Competitive landscape research is a tried and true technique in the world of marketing strategy. It is smart, after all, to have a sense of what the companies in your industry are up to. But it can also be a recipe for boring (aka disaster). So what if you ignore them? The reality is that you are competing, but that your competitive set is far broader than just those companies who offer comparable products or services. You are competing for time and limited attention spans. You’re competing with your closest competitor but also with cute kitten photos and Funny or Die clips because your target customer is just as distracted as the rest of us. And if you embrace Truth #5 below, then you’ll likely be doing things so differently from your competitor that you can ignore them completely. Just don’t think you have no competition.

#3: Your analytics are playing you for a fool

As modern day marketers, we have so much data at our fingertips. And it’s the kind of data we could only dream of having just a few short years ago. But you seriously need to look your tools in the eye with your most threatening face and tell them to STFU for a minute. You are not (necessarily) winning because you brought your bounce rate down and increased time on site. The Analytics trap is a dirty one because it takes data that might mean something and makes us think it DEFINITELY means something. But sometimes, a single 90-second experience with no obvious “conversion” might be the biggest win of all.

#4: Agile consumer insights are critical

Knock your socks off encounters are made possible when a great idea builds on a deep insight. But with the pace of change and the steady flow of opportunity, you need to stay on top of your audience and their shifting perceptions and attitudes. Harness your tools, databases and chance encounters to keep refining your understanding of your consumer and evolving your experiences to align.

#5: Consumer value creation doesn’t have to directly relate to your actual “business”

One of the easiest ways to surprise and delight your customers is to give them something of value that is unrelated to what you’re selling. Google gives you amazing (and free) search tools and makes their money in advertising. Musicians give you recorded music for free or cheap and make their money on the road. We pour free coffee and host events, and make our money from clients who align with our passion for creating meaningful brand encounters. The point is to delight them by any means necessary, and start a relationship that could eventually translate into sales and advocacy.

#6: Consistency is King maybe a Jack

For too long now, brand strategy has focused on delivering a consistent experience across all your touchpoints. But when you try to deliver the same experience every time (even if it’s a great one) don’t you inherently create a status quo that eliminates the opportunity for the magic moments that will put your business over the top? Consistency should be your foundation, but you have to build from there.

#7: Love is the killer app

Admittedly, I’ve wanted to use this line ever since I first read Tim Sanders’ book of the same name. But in the Encounter Economy, it’s probably the most critical truth of all. You’ve got to feel (and share) true love for your customers and community. When you operate from a place of love, you’re more generous. You’re also more attractive because you’re happy and genuine and all, you know, googly. Amazing encounters are birthed from, and result in, deep feelings of love.

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