Soundbites: Personal Experience Factor and The Approach


Adam: Welcome once again to BrandingBlog SoundBites with Wizard of Ads Partner, Dave Young from I’m Adam Lefler. Hello, Dave.

Dave: Hi, Adam.

Adam: Today, we’re talking about Personal Experience Factor: the Approach. What do you mean?

Dave: Well, Personal Experience Factor, Adam, is the term that we use in the Advertising Performance Equation that relates to the actual experience that you’re delivering to a customer if you’re a brick and mortar retailer. If you don’t understand the advertising performance equation, you might not be familiar with this concept.

But, what we hold in this equation is that the actual in-store experience has a great deal of effect on how effectively your advertising dollars are being spent. It seems like a disconnect to most people because they think, “Oh, well the advertising should just be bringing people in the door.”

The real issue is the dollars that you’re spending on ads, if you’re doing it right, should have a long-term, lasting effect. It’s true, the dollars that you’re spending in advertising are responsible, in many cases, for getting people in the door the first time. Right? My first visit to your store may be as the result of your advertising. It could also be the result of a referral or a recommendation from a friend.

Whatever it is that got me in your door the first time, it worked, right? I came in the door, I crossed your threshold the first time, and I’m there. All right. So, what gets me in the second time?

It’s the experience that I had the first time!

Adam: Right, exactly. When you walk in that door, that feeling you get and the experience, that will keep you coming back.

Dave: Exactly. So, if they drop the ball there, what happens is they miss out on one of the most powerful things that they can do in advertising, which is to generate a feedback loop of referral business. If you get people in the door and you give them a good experience, you ignite this little fire that says, “Hey, when I go out and somebody needs your product, I’m going to recommend you because I had a good experience there.”

That’s the kind of a feedback loop that feeds back into share of voice and share of mind, which are other parts of the Advertising Performance Equation. We’ll talk about that another time.

When I talk about the Personal Experience Factor and the approach, we could do a weekly podcast and never talk about anything besides Personal Experience Factor if we want to talk about all the different things that make up someone’s experience in your store. We could talk about hiring, we could talk about merchandising, and decor, and design, and product mixes and pricing, and all those things that happen inside the doors.

What I wanted to do in this episode was just drill down on what I call the approach. That is to look at your business through the eyes of someone that’s approaching it for the first time. So, I’m not even in the door yet. I’m a block away. Can I see it? Is your sign readable? Is your location decent?

As I get closer and closer, is your paint peeling, or does it look good? Are your windows clean, or are they dirty and smudgy? Is the sidewalk swept off or is it covered in dust and gravel? Those kinds of issues all have to do with the approach, and it’s that whole concept of “you only have one chance to make a first impression.”

You need to start with Personal Experience Factor by taking a step away from your business and looking at it from a distance.

I like to use the metaphor of an airliner coming in for a landing at an airport. They have to be able to see that runway from a long ways off. That’s why runways are all marked consistently. If you’re a pilot, you know a runway when you see it. If you’re landing at night, the lights have to be just right. Everything has to work just right. This is before we ever get to the gate, right?

Before the wheels touch down, everything has to look good. Then, when you do touchdown – if you’ve ever landed at JFK, I landed at JFK one time and the flight attendant, I think this was on JetBlue Airlines, the flight attendant said, “Well, as you can tell by the potholes in the runway, welcome to JFK.” That’s the experience you get when you land at JFK. It’s not a great one, but you know you’re there. So, we haven’t even got to the gate yet.

You need to make sure that the approach…that everything is clear, marked, easy to find, welcoming… parking is ample, spacious. The parking lot’s not full of cigarette butts and soda cups. It’s paying attention to those details from the outside in. If, as a business owner, you’ve become blind to those things, which often happens. Adam, what happens is we walk in those doors every single day. The first time you notice some paint peeling you go, “Oh, yeah. Someday I’m going to have to repaint this building.” You forget about it, and pretty soon it just becomes invisible to you. But, the person that’s coming in for the very first time notices those things.

So, what I like to recommend is that as a business owner, find somebody else’s eyes to look at it. If you don’t have a way to ask real customers about it, then get somebody. Probably a spouse isn’t the best, because a spouse is going to be suffering from the same “inside the bottle” view that you do.

Get a friend or a friend’s spouse and say, “Hey, I need you to come to the store and I need you to stop a block or two out. As soon as you know you can see the place, stop and take a few notes. What could we do better? How could our sign be better? What do you see? What do you notice? Then get a little closer, maybe half a block away. Then, as you get within shouting distance, same thing. Make notes about what you see on the sidewalk, what you see in the door, all those things.”

So, everything from the outside to the threshold is the approach. If you can get somebody to take some notes and make some suggestions, you’ll probably find half a dozen things that you can do to improve the approach and not spend a whole lot of money. Guess what? It’s going to make your ad budget work better. It will make your radio ads work better, it will make your newspaper ads work better because it will help you from short-circuiting that feedback loop that is generated by word-of-mouth and referrals. All these little things just add up to something big.

Adam: Right, and especially in person. People are going to hear about a negative comment tenfold over a good experience.

Dave: Absolutely. We’re all more inclined to repeat something bad that happened to us than something good. So, you’ve got to just eliminate any possibility of someone having a bad experience, even if it’s something as seemingly insignificant as dirty windows in your storefront.

Now, if you have a service company, if you’re an HVAC company or a roofing company, and you’ve got vehicles out around town and nobody comes to your location much, pay attention the same way. Can I read the signs on your van from a block away, from a half block away?

I had a client who had some of those wraps, basically, on the sides of his van windows. They were in a color that if the sun was at the wrong angle, you really couldn’t tell that it had anything on it at all. So, that’s a problem. Make sure that it’s high contrast, high visibility. People need to see that. People need to know that you’re pros and that you are what you say you are in your ads. There you are, there’s your van, and it looks good. It makes a difference, it really does.

Adam: You’ve been listening to BrandingBlog SoundBites with Wizard of Ads Partner, Dave Young. For more information, you can visit Dave Young’s Please feel free to share this podcast by sending the link or the MP3 to someone who could benefit from the information.

Thank you again for listening to BrandingBlog SoundBites with Dave Young.

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