Pursuing the awesome experience

Why do things have to be awesome? Isn’t good good enough? What about great — isn’t that good enough? It’s not that companies intentionally force mediocrity our way. In fact, it’s the lack of intention that usually results in mediocrity. Given a choice, most people would choose an awesome experience.

Three key characteristics define an awesome experience:

Positive. Awesome experiences are always positive. Awesome by definition means inspired by that which is grand or sublime. Creating a positive experience will assure the beholder of wanting to relive the experience.

Meaningful. What is the point of doing something awesome if nobody cares? Meaning provides context and impact, which lends itself to sharing and discussion. If no one is talking about it, it wasn’t awesome.

Memorable. Reflect on the business experiences you remember. They likely resulted in an epiphany you couldn’t wait to share.

Awesome experiences can be created anytime, anyplace, so why isn’t the business world overflowing with them? Primarily because creating them requires forethought, creativity, planning and execution. It takes time, skill and an understanding of how to turn a mediocre or “just OK” experience into one that is meaningful and memorable for everyone. The awesome experience happens at the convergence of need, entertainment and the unexpected.

Here’s the difference.

Peter and Kevin go to lunch. They need someone to provide good food while they talk. They decide upon a local French restaurant, Le Café. They’ve heard good things about Le Café from friends and reviews. They are on their way to a good experience because they are fulfilling one of the requirements for need — trust. They have a recommendation and a review that says the food and service should meet or perhaps even exceed expectations.

They arrive and are greeted and seated by Pierre. He is nice and attentive. He performs his job as expected — reciting the specials, taking the order and delivering the food in a timely manner. The food was decent and so was the service, providing the second need component — resolution. Had the food been bad or the service slow, that need would have not been resolved and the trust would have been broken. A bad experience would have occurred. Instead, this was a good experience.

Later, Peter and Kevin return to Le Café. They are greeted by a young, attractive server named Marie. As they wait to be seated, Marie provides entertainment by engaging them in conversation. She tells them stories of how she first came to America from France, and soon has them laughing about her early antics learning English. Marie seats them and continues to charm the two by joking and flirting while fulfilling their need for a good lunch.

Marie succeeded in combining need with entertainment in a way that turned an ordinary lunch into a more meaningful experience. They left having thoroughly enjoyed a great experience that was positive and meaningful. This experience is great because it had their need met through trust and resolution, combined with entertainment met through engagement and joy.

A few years later, Peter and Kevin have now become regulars at Le Café. One day, Pierre greets them by saying, “We keep tabs on our guests’ visits and you may not be aware that this is your 25th time here. The chef is so appreciative he wants you to know that your meals are on the house. And, we have this lovely bottle of Bordeaux for you to enjoy with your meal.”

This is the type of experience Peter and Kevin are sure to remember for years. Not only was the experience memorable, it was worth sharing. Le Café’s management succeeded in creating the unexpected. By filling Kevin and Peter’s need, providing them entertainment and creating the unexpected with surprise and relevance, Le Café was able to create the awesome experience.

The awesome experience requires the convergence of need (through trust and resolution), combined with entertainment (through engagement and joy), combined with the unexpected (through surprise and relevance).

Over the next few months, I will share tools you can use to satisfy need, entertain and deliver the unexpected. When pursuing the awesome experience, keep your audience in mind. If you strive to exceed expectations, you are more likely to make it happen. And then, you may just inspire others to stop pushing mediocrity and create an awesome experience for you, as well.

It’s that simple: Fulfill a need, entertain and bring on the unexpected. Pursuing the awesome experience doesn’t require lots of money, props or even other people. It mainly requires a decision to make it happen and follow through.

Kevin Daum is the principal of TAE International and the author of several books, including “Building Your Own Home For Dummies,” and his latest, “ROAR! Get Heard in the Sales and Marketing Jungle.” He is a regular speaker and consultant on marketing and book development, and he blogs at www.awesomeroar.com. Reach him at [email protected].