A great example is Porsche. They engaged with more than 250,000 visitors in less than three years with their two US Experience Centers. No less than 30 percent of non-Porsche owners said they were very likely to buy one after their visit. Isn’t that the type of brand engagement you want to aspire to?
Turning your headquarters, your store - or any place really - into a unique location that draws in the crowds, creates the opportunity to showcase your brand’s strengths and core values in an unforgettable way. Potential customers will understand what it is that your products can do, and on top of that you get to spend face-to-face time talking to your customers and understanding what their business is truly about.
Making these valuable interactions successful requires planning. It’s crucial to define a well-thought-out strategy before designing your experience center. You need to be clear on the desired outcomes and what you want people to walk away with after a visit. In short, KPIs greatly influence design. Even the coolest immersive experience centers can fail when they aren’t grounded in strategy.
"It’s crucial to define a well-thought-out strategy before designing your experience center."
What to think of when designing your experience center
It all starts with thinking about your audience. Who are you planning to invite to your experience center? Why would a customer want to come visit? What value can you add to that precious time you have together? But also, can you scale your experience center to the cloud?
When done right, experience centers are more than just a cool gimmick or the next big marketing trend. From office design to mobile experiences, a great immersive experience adds significant value and potential profit to your business by leveraging the power of a great story.
With Hyro Storytelling software, we’ve enabled numerous businesses to tell their story in custom-designed experience centers.
For Microsoft, we created a successful immersive experience room called the Holosuite; a space where digital transformation is brought to life. This 360° experience truly makes customers part of the digital transformation story where they understand its potential and the impact it can make for their business.
As part of the strategy, we like to start by thinking about the story structure and designing the chapters you want to tell. This then becomes an integral part of the foundation on which you can build your experience center.
To help you get started, we’ve created a simple 4-step checklist that will lead you to an amazing experience center design.
What the heck are you talking about?
Understanding your audience and objectives
Evaluate the conversations you have with your customers and really dig deep. Make sure to get the different teams and departments in your company involved. Think salespeople, marketing, but also customer services and product development. Nobody is better equipped to provide you with a full picture than the people whose job it is to be customer-focused - if not obsessed.
Ask the most important questions:
What do customers want to talk about?
What do you want to talk about with customers?
What do you need to improve the relationship with your customer?
Having a deep understanding of how your customers interact with your brand will make it a lot easier to crystallize what you need to do to become closer to them.
Find out the reason why your audience would want to come visit your experience center. Perhaps your experience center isn’t focused on customers but on building a strong employee community. If this is the case, you should evaluate the conversations you have within your company. How are you communicating your brand story and organizational values to employees? And do you need to improve this in any way?
Swinburne University found that using digital storytelling for internal brand communication and adding an experience center to your office design, will improve employees’ commitment and loyalty. This is a finding from the university's research on why the PR strategy of storytelling improves employee engagement.
"Adding an experience center to your office design, will improve employees’ commitment and loyalty."
From a big idea to a big story.
Building your story and designing your presentation
Knowing how to deliver a good story is vital. But before that can happen, you first need to know what you’re going to say. If you have a clear picture of what you and your customers want to talk about, you can get started on the fun part - building your story.
Your story should align with your business goals at all times. Whether you want your experience center to educate, inspire, sell, connect, challenge, or build trust, you need a good story to get your audience to pay attention and engage in your purpose-driven experience.
The story you’re going to tell needs to be engaging as well as informative. A good corporate story contains a clear pathway for customers to connect and interact. Make sure to check out our previous blog on how to create a kick-ass story in 7 simple steps.
Whatever you do, don’t talk too much about your brand, but instead, make sure your audience is the center of attention.
A great corporate story can benefit significantly from data. Is your story going to be data-driven, data-informed, or data-inspired? Back up or infuse your story with data to improve credibility, demonstrate expertise, or offer unique and valuable insights.
It’s tempting when you create a story to lead with your product. But make sure to stay far away from that pitfall. A great story leads TO and not WITH your product or service. What should be leading? Exactly; the problem you solve for your customers. Your product or service is a solution to their problem. So think about how you add value. Make sure that your customer takes center stage and build from there.
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe….
Choosing the right type of technology
With an excellent corporate story, you’re halfway there. The other half is choosing the right technology for your experience center. You need to match your objectives with digital experiences that help you succeed.
A well-designed experience center is highly adaptive. It can easily absorb new technological advancements as well as changes in your business. By choosing technology that is based on your current goals, keeping in mind your future plans as well, you can design a robust experience center that’s relevant for years to come.
Selecting the right type of technology can be tricky. How do you choose in a market that’s over-flooded with options and where the next cool thing is right around the corner? (whether you see it coming or not). The answer is simple: be clear on your objectives, and make sure you have a system in place that easily allows you to manage, update, and create content.
The technology in your experience center is -and always should be- a means; not an end. You can have the coolest tech, but the experience will fail inevitably without any great content to show. Hyro storytelling software allows you to turn any space or screen into a storytelling canvas.
This ensures that your original hardware investment doesn’t go to waste. Even when your screens are two years old, your story and your content won’t be.
"The technology in your experience center is -and always should be- a means; not an end."
Aligning your Customer Experience.
Overall Customer Engagement Strategy and nurture streams
We know it’s no longer enough to brief customers on a company’s vision or court prospects with a verbose sales pitch. Adding an experience center to your marketing strategy might step up your game. Still, its success will depend on how it fits into your company’s overall customer engagement strategy and nurture streams.
A personalized, immersive experience can be one of many customer touchpoints that lead to customer loyalty, long term partnerships, and ultimately, revenue.
When you invite someone to your experience center, the experience starts before anyone has even set foot in the building. Think about how you want to invite them, how they can get there, what they need to know in advance, what you can share to get them excited, what you want their arrival at the building to look like. Basically, create an end-to-end customer journey to ensure their experience isn’t anything less than amazing. And remember: your story isn’t over when they leave the center, it’s only the first chapters.
The final step in the experience center journey is the follow-up. After someone has visited your center, you want to make sure that you keep talking. You’ve opened up a conversation during their visit, don’t let this be the end: you’ve learned about what they care about, what problems they face, and how you can help them best. Turn these insights into marketing nurture streams to ensure the conversation keeps flowing.
Send out personalized marketing materials that focus on things they’re interested in. You can invite them for deep-dive sessions or plan follow-up conversations. You can propose a proof of concept. Or simply ask for feedback on the experience of their visit. In short, make sure you stay connected.
Keep your business objectives in mind when you design your experience center. Be strategic about your choices. Be smart about how you create a story that resonates with your audience. This helps justify the investment in creating these special spaces.
Do you want to discuss how an immersive experience strategy can benefit your business? Get in touch. We’re more than happy to show you the different possibilities in an exploratory conversation.