How to Turn your Products into Experiences

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

Case Studies  |  Sales Strategies  |  Best Practices

In recent years, I’ve enjoyed a number of amazing experiences – many shared here on my blog - like when my wife and I went on an Antarctic Expedition.

I’ve got most everything I need product wise.  Sure, I got the new iPhone 6 plus because I wanted the larger size screen and better camera. But I normally don’t spend a lot of money on “stuff”.

But I do spend money on experiences!

In a recent Atlantic article Buy Experiences, Not Things, James Hamblin writes: "Over the past decade, an abundance of psychology research has shown that experiences bring people more happiness than do possessions."

Creating experiences is an important sales stratey for companies


I’ve been thinking a lot about product companies that have successfully created an experience.

HubSpot, a marketing and sales software company (I’m on the advisory board), has a very popular yearly event with this years’ edition - Inbound 2014 – bringing more than 10,000 people together in Boston for four days of fun and learning. Inbound turns the HubSpot product into an experience and also turns customers into fans.

Many rock stars are now adding fan experience ticket packages. At a recent Mickey Hart Band concert, I was able to purchase an upgraded ticket (for $100 or so extra) that enabled me to attend the band’s soundcheck before the show, meet the band, and spend a little time with Mickey Hart. It added to my enjoyment of the show and the resulting photos were great fodder for social media (in turn promoting the band).

What aspect of your product could lend itself to a social experience? Is there something people talk about and take photos of? What’s dramatic? 

For example, seeing huge airplanes being built is all three of those things and the Boeing Factory Tour is the perfect experience to showcase the company.

I’d argue the Apple Genius Bar is another form of experience that helps to market a company and its products.

Building my own surfboard

IMG_9461This past long weekend I built a wooden surfboard with the team at Grain Surfboards in York, Maine.  I took the shortened four-day class (they also offer a seven-day version).

It was an amazing experience to build my own board. Many others agree and share on the Grain Surfboards Facebook page.

Founder and principal owner of Grain Surfboards Mike Lavecchia used his knowledge of wooden boats and his love of surfing to begin building hollow wooden surfboards for customers in 2005. At the time, nearly all surfboards were made of foam core. Yet surfing’s roots in Hawaii is on wooden boards.

Grain Surfboards also offers boards in kit form and when people started turning up in the shop asking for advice, the idea of classes was born. Now they conduct classes most months in the Maine workshop and also have a travelling course (most recently held in Cardiff, California). For those who want a custom experience, there’s also a fantasy camp where you work in the shop on a one-on-one basis with a Grain Surfboards expert.

The Grain Surfboard experience has added significant revenue to the company and also helps get the word out about the wooden eco-friendly alternative of commercial surfboards made of foam. People like me write about their experience and post their photos on social networks like I did.

In my case it was four days to a beautiful board! I left my 6’4” fish with Grain Surfboards to be finished and I’ll pick it up in a month.

While in Maine, I even had a chance to paddle out in the October waters of Maine to try one of the demo boards. The water was cold but the board was sweet.

I wouldn’t have purchased a wooden surfboard had it not been for the experience of building it myself. And here I am sharing it with you.

What experience can you deliver to your customers?