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Show Business

I had one of those delightful “aha” moments at conference recently.

I had just heard Erin Crowe, CFO at Senators Sports and Entertainment, and Isabelle Perreault, VP Digital Transformation at Stratford Managers, deliver a rousing presentation on the business transformation at Senators Sports and Entertainment. The Senators’ vision is to deliver a world-class fan experience in all aspects of their business. What they do on-line is big part of it.

Then came Frederick Lecoq, Senior Vice President Marketing at FGL Sports. For a B2B marketer like me, listening to a consumer, retail marketer is a guilty pleasure. Frederick talked about his experience transforming a traditional bricks-and-mortar retailer, SportChek, into a digital marketing powerhouse that’s been lauded by Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook. He started his presentation with a powerful, back-to-basics reminder that customers pay for experience, not just product.

At home, you pay a few cents for the coffee you make every morning. If you’re lazy and go to Tim Hortons instead, you pay a buck or so. Meeting a business contact at Starbucks might set you back three dollars for a coffee prepared by a “barista” and consumed in a corner armchair. In a café in Venice, you’re prepared to pay over $10 for that same coffee. It probably tastes no different but the experience of coffee in Piazza San Marco? Priceless (or worth at least 50 times more than the one in your kitchen).

The point is that experience has value. This is true for all companies, not just sports clubs and retailers. People come to your place of business expecting a distinctive, compelling experience. From that perspective, the Canadian Tire Centre arena in Ottawa is no different than the SportChek store in West Edmonton Mall (or your own customer demo centre). Otherwise, they’d just watch YouTube or shop on-line.

Of course in the digital age, an increasingly important part of the customer experience is your on-line presence, whether it’s your website, e-store or social media. Today’s top marketers don’t draw lines between the various physical and virtual interaction points with the customer, they connect them. The question is simply what “content” are we choosing to deliver through which “channel” of customer interaction. As Frederick said in his presentation, “all business is show business these days”.

B2B marketers sometime forget that the people buying their products are, well, people – people who seek positive brand and buying experiences as they make purchase decisions on behalf of their organizations. They will choose to buy from companies that deliver superior customer experiences and they’ll pay more for the products they buy. That translates into revenue growth and improved profit margin for savvy companies with high digital IQs. Consider that over your next cup of coffee (wherever you may drink it!).

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