It is 1977. Balancing a freshly stirred glass of Tang and a handful of Nutter Butters, (walking as fast as your Aquaman underoos will allow), you stumble across your toy-strewn den, kicking aside Stretch Armstrong and multiple Slinkys (careful to avoid the Weeble Wobbles -there is no swift recovery from that impact-), you crouch and set your food and drink down in the middle of your Rock 'em, Sock 'Em Robot arena. On your knees, you hobble hurriedly to turn on the TV. The tube crackles to life, light from the ether, likely some galaxy far away, flashes on the screen in snowy static. Contorting your fingers like a vice-grip, you flip the knob to channel 13. Just in time! The Saturday morning gods are smiling down on you today, if you would have taken three minutes longer, you would have missed it:
Schoolhouse Rock turned forty this year. Bob Dorough, the composer, responsible for churning out more grammar competent children than the whole of the collective school system, penetrated our tiny skulls through the charm of melody with songs like Lolly's Adverbs, Conjunction Junction, Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla, and my all-time favorite: Interjections!
Interjections (as some of you will recall) show excitement or emotion, they're generally apart from a sentence by an exclamation point (sing it with me), or by a comma when the feelings not as strong.
"…Social psychologists often categorize what we purchase by our intent. Some things are material purchases - "made with the primary intention of acquiring ... a tangible object that is kept in one's possession." Others are experiential purchases - "made with the primary intention of acquiring … an event or a series of events that one lives through. Several researchers have shown that people derive much greater satisfaction from purchasing experiences than they do from purchasing goods…As a result, framing a sale in experiential terms is more likely to lead to satisfied customers and repeat business...So if you're selling a car, go easy on emphasizing the rich Corinthian leather on the seats. Instead, point out what the car will allow the buyer to do - see new places, visit old friends, and add to a book of memories." - To Sell is Human, Daniel Pink
My question to Dan was, "Do you have suggestions for us on how we frame this sale to our customers in more experiential terms, how do we move them to that experience as opposed to the product?"
"It's actually a hard thing to do," Dan replied (here is Dan's entire response). I agree with Dan, it's a tough sell but I was trying to draw from Dan a simpler way to define the experience. I think I found the answer in response to our own purchases. Think of the last few purchases you made, no matter how simple. Can you remember your immediate response? Was it an interjection?
Fuel: What?! Groceries: Whew! Glad that's over, on to the next task. Movie: Wow! Dinner at a restaurant: Awesome! (Or, Meh. Bleh. Ewww.) Beer: Boo-ya!
As I sit here typing this, I'm looking at a Bose Wave Radio on my desk. When I was window shopping for it, I wasn't perusing the shelves for a radio, I was shopping for an experience. The first time I fired it up, I responded, "ahhhh", and realized that every time an interjection sings, a cash register gets it ka-ching (sorry, couldn't resist). Our immediate responses, most often in the form of interjections, reflect the true value of our experience. Sales occur (or cease) the moment an interjection is uttered.
You and I actually deal frequently in interjections, it is our stock-in-trade. In fact, the entire American economy is powered by interjection sales. There's no GDP for it, but it's the single largest category. Consumer's pine for interjection-filled moments, demand is always high. Even the most boring product sales in the world transact in interjections (many service businesses sell, "Whew! You mean, you'll do all that and I don't have to?"). Think you are too smart for interjection sales? Steve Jobs didn't think so. Instead of saying, "this iPad has three-axis gyroscope plus fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating", he said, "this thing is awesome!"
In our business, we sell branded products. Instead of framing a sale around the particular nuances of material or even functionality, we try to sell through the product to that moment of experience when the customer receives or interacts with our product: "Cool!" "Awesome!" "For me?!"
Of course, I'm oversimplifying the selling process (particularly if you are engaged in a long-term selling cycle), but framing your sale around the experience can be a fun, emotionally positive way to reinforce value. At the very least, by remembering that we are trying to elicit interjections from our potential customers, we can use this elementary mnemonic to remind ourselves that what the customer cares about most, and what will move almost any commodity sale to almost luxury-like proportions, is a thoughtfully orchestrated, "ahhh," "yes!," or "whew!"