A couple of weeks ago, I went to the First Annual Brewer's Ball at the Renaissance Hotel in Dallas. Nice hotel, by the way. If you get a chance to go to an event there - you should.
The event showcased a number of local breweries and restaurants. It was pretty incredible!
Because I can be an experience nerd, I was very aware which stations attracted my attention and why. I actually told my friend, Amber, that I was impressed by the promotional packaging at the event.
Yes - not the beer, not the food - the promotional packaging. (Well, I was impressed by the beer and food as well, but not as much as the packaging.)
Promotional packaging is what drew me, a beer newbie, to one brewery rather than another. I either knew the logo I was looking at and drank something familiar, or I tried something new that looked interesting based on how it captured my attention.
I chose what I ate that night the same way - based on its presentation. I ate sausages and a hot pepper out of a flip-top can because it seemed like a fun experience - like I was camping and eating rations. I ate a little shrimp chip with dip in the middle crater because it seemed self-contained and easy to eat. I also at this toast with multiple spreads on it because it seemed like a great sampler bite for that restaurant, showcasing all the best they had to offer.
So how does it work to captures - and keep - a customer's or prospect's attention:
Step 1. Attraction. Yep, pretty much promotional packaging. I wouldn't have tried the rations if it weren't for the packaging. Same with the shrimp chips. I also wouldn't have tried the Christmas Beer if I didn't notice the French Vanilla packaging on the beer next to it and found that intriguing. It's all about how things look.
Outside of the event...
For Web sites, it has to look good and be easy to use. It has to be intuitive at first sight. You have to get something from your experience the first time you are there.
For stores, the merchandise has to suit your personal style to get you to come inside. Or the store has to look cool enough to merit a visit. Either one. Again, it's all about looks.Step 2. Learning/Understanding. Some of the brewers described their craft and educated me about how they made the beers. Some just poured the beer I asked for. Which breweries stood out the most to me? Exactly - the one's that gave me more insight into what they were making and why.I wanted to know more about the French Ale versus the Christmas Ale - but the guy was too buzzed to tell me. Sure, I got some information, but if he wasn't so keen on taking another sip of beer and didn't seem like he was going to fall over, I could have asked him more questions.I fell further in love with the restaurant, Malai Kitchen, because they explained their dish and told us more about their snack. I felt like they were including me in their process.Step 3. Appreciation. There needs to be a mutual appreciation between the prospect/customer and the company. There were a few times at the Brewers Ball that I didn't feel that the brewer appreciated me sipping their beer. That typically happened when they would pour and send me away, almost as if I were in a bar, ordering a beer. I may have liked what I was drinking, but I'll be darned to remember the name. They didn't take time to talk to me, so why should I take time to remember them?Notice who I did remember? Yep - the ones that educated me about their products.Step 4. Engagement. This means that a prospect, customer, or someone who doesn't work at the vendor's company is having a conversation with that vendor. Outside of an event, this could be me as a prospect sending a tweet about the beer or food I tasted, posting something on Facebook, or better yet - a delayed response for later. Something like this article, even. And any type of engagement is positive - it means that someone took enough care and time to contact you.
Step 5. Response. This would be the prospect buying something or completing the call to action a company is requesting. For the Brewer's Ball - it is trying the beer. It doesn't mean I'm a customer. It means I have interest in the offering to the point I selected it.
In most cases, this is purchasing an item. For more expensive products and services, this could be a free estimate. It's deeper engagement than a conversation, but it's not a full experience with the product. Using a consumer product once is even a response. A trial size is only 2-3 uses. You really need to experience a product for a full cycle to appreciate it.
Step 6. Positive experience with the Product or Service. This would be someone having a positive experience with the product that they got - so positive that the person wants to buy it again. The fallacy about customer conversion is that the customer purchased. A single purchase only means that I had enough interest to buy it. But does that person want to buy it again?This is different for more expensive items (anything over $250) because that requires more research before purchase. In those cases, people typically get an estimate or a trial. One purchase for them really is a conversion. More on that later.
- Step 7. Recommendation. This is the most powerful of all the steps to capture and keep a customer's attention. If someone is willing to publicly share their story about your product or service - your customer loves you!
Now, if the story isn't so great, at least the customer is willing to tell you. That's better than the typical response where the customer goes away to never talk to you or interact with you again. The customer wants to see you improve and win.And this is the best way to communicate with new customers. 90% of people trust a recommendation from a network. 81% of those go online to get recommendations. People trust other people. It makes it harder to build trust and sell without feedback and recommendations from your own customers.