As the CMO of a top entertainment brand you’ve got a sharp eye on your metrics. Above all, I bet you’re tracking sales numbers carefully. Sales are important, sure, but they look backward instead of forward. By focusing only on sales, you’re missing an opportunity to drive numbers instead of just reading about them.
Let me introduce a different metric that looks forward and should be a focal point as a predictor of sales and results: experience. And I’ll tell you how to improve it.
Experience is especially important for entertainment brands. Every individual sale comes with a multiplier: the more extraordinary the experience you give your customers, the more they’ll recommend it, the more they’ll return and the more people they’ll bring with them. As Walt Disney said…
“Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it, they will want to come back and see you do it again, and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.”
I tell our clients all the time: brand follows operations. In the same vein, consider this: sales follow experience. If the quality of your brand experience is falling, expect sales to fall. But if the quality of your brand experience is improving, expect sales numbers to go up!
So how can you improve your brand experience?
- Define a driving brand purpose – What is that one thing – that rallying cry or emotional directive – that can be used as the “North Star” in decision making at all levels? Nike’s published mission is “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”1 You can easily see in their inspiring marketing and innovative products that they make daily decisions to bring this purpose to life.
- Give your teams freedom and respect – You’ve heard the old adage: If you love something, let it go. After defining your brand’s purpose, show your teams how much you value and trust them by putting it into their hands. They will implement and energize your purpose in fresh, customer-impacting ways you’ve never imagined. The Walt Disney Company has determined that their unwavering devotion to Guest Focus is only made possible because “…employees who feel valued and appreciated will make sure their customers do as well.”2
- Listen to your customers – It’s time to face the cold, hard truth that your customers know better than you. Their insight, reactions and suggestions for improvement come from first-hand, unvarnished immersion in your experience. Ask them what they think and trust what they tell you! As a declining brand, NASCAR turned to their customers to find their way back to relevancy. They created a 12,000-person Official NASCAR Fan Council that captures feedback from loyal viewers on an ongoing basis, turning NASCAR into a leader among sports brands.3
- Maintain a relentless commitment – Any brand can make purpose-driven decisions and follow through in most things. But that’s not good enough. It must be done in everything! Today’s customers are savvy and spot inconsistency from a mile away. Consider Shake Shack, a fast-food burger joint that consistently averages 200 percent higher per-customer sales than industry leader McDonalds.4 For nine years Shake Shack was lauded for outstanding burgers, store appearance and customer experience. But they were also consistently criticized for their mediocre french fries. Instead of resting on their laurels and brushing this one minor concern under the rug, they maintained a relentless commitment to doing it right in everything. Shake Shack improved this last corner of their experience even when it was hard—by making the operationally challenging decision to switch from frozen to fresh-cut fries.5
Want to see your sales numbers go up? If the success of category-leading industry all-stars like Nike, Disney, NASCAR and Shake Shack are any indication, focus on your experience. Start with a well-defined purpose, give your teams freedom and respect to implement it, listen to your customers and a keep a relentless commitment to excellence.
We love talking about this topic, and we love clients that do, too! If you’ve got further questions or thoughts, hit me up anytime and let’s sit down for a coffee and keep the conversation going.