Creating Memorable Experiences

Every time you interact with a potential capital investor or site selection consultant, you create an experience that either strengthens or erodes the perception of your community, region or state brand. Every experience, no matter how small, is an opportunity to reinforce your place promise and differentiate your location from the competition as a desirable choice for capital investment.

There are several keys to success in creating memorable experiences that will help your community, region or state to be at the top of a capital investor’s “must explore further” list. And, when you consider 71% of deal opportunities (DCI 2008 study) never contact an EDO until a short list of locations is pre-determined, it is definitely a list you need to be on in order to achieve your economic portfolio and jobs growth goals.

To begin, it is helpful to have a basic understanding of how memory works. Frank Capek did a great job of providing an overview in a blog post he titled “Making Experiences Memorable”. Frank makes several important points –

  • There is no experience without memory.
  • A lot of information is lost in the process of transferring it from short-term to long-term memory.
  • People process experiential data selectively.
  • People remember high contrast (unique) elements most readily.
  • Recall is not reliable and can often be inaccurate.

Frank summarizes his post with a few tips on how you can create more memorable experiences for people. He also has a fun card trick you will enjoy built into the post as a way for you to remember his counsel.

In addition to Frank’s advice, here are four tips I have learned over the years that may also help you create memorable experiences for potential capital investors or site selection consultants.

  1. Make the experience personal. Think of the person as a guest in your community. Help make personal connections for them with people that they can relate to and will reinforce your place promise. Anticipate their information and comfort needs. Give them your undivided attention; make them feel as though they are your most important priority while visiting your community. And, listen to what they have to say. Don’t spend the entire time telling your story. Hear the meaning behind their words. It makes a difference when you care enough to understand what is truly important to them.
  2. Put your guest at the center of the experience and make your place promise come to life in an engaging, authentic and relevant way. Build the engagement around meeting their needs. Present information in a way that is tailored to them. This obviously takes pre-work in getting to know the person or company, but will pay dividends in your delivery. It is important to be genuine and authentic in both your actions and behaviors. If your place promise is authentic, then this should come naturally.
  3. Be certain the experience is consistently delivered. Think the experience through completely from start to finish and execute with excellence. It is important that everybody involved understand what you are trying to accomplish and are aligned with doing his or her part. In this way, the sum of the parts will be much greater than the whole. If you don’t, you run the risk of creating “high contrast” inconsistencies you’d rather not have remembered.
  4. Go above and beyond what is expected. Make certain there is no ambiguity in the schedule or confusion in the logistics that could create an inconvenience. Be sure to follow-up on all commitments and make your guest feel comfortable, welcomed and important.

Creating memorable experiences is hard work and often underappreciated. But, it can make a powerful difference in the perception of your location. The big difference between what you might already be doing for familiarization tours and the above advice is likely the purposeful focus on having the experience bring your place promise to life for your visitor. Do this well and it will help improve the overall perception of your location as an ideal choice for capital investment. Do it well and you will gain a higher share of the 71% of opportunities called out in the DCI research.

I would appreciate it if you’d share your experience or thoughts about creating memorable experiences by leaving a comment to this post. Maybe it is an experience you remember or one you had a hand in creating. Your comments help enrich everybody’s understanding by providing important context to the discussion. Thank you in advance for contributing.

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5 Comments so far

  1. Neil Hensley

    January 12, 2010

    I couldn’t agree more. Last year I hosted a dinner in Bangalore for University of Cincinnati alumni in India, and I was struck by the fact that each alumni member felt compelled to share a Cincinnati story with me. One man, who is now the managing partner of an architecture firm, shared with me that the first week he was in Cincinnati, he needed to take a bus to an appointment in the suburbs. He was so anxious about taking the bus that his landlord took him to the bus stop, made sure he had the exact change (for both directions), told the bus driver where he needed to disembark and later called the place to make sure he had arrived. He couldn’t believe such kindness from someone he barely knew – yet he is still talking about it more than 10 years later. If he ever has an opportunity to suggest a U.S. location to one of his clients, I am confident he will recommend Cincinnati.

  2. Ed

    We are involved in an initiative to attract FDI (from Asia Pacific) into UK (Scotland, in particular) and this is helpful advice and guidance. What is DCI as not familiar with this across this side of the Pond? Will check out the link. Many thanks for these helpful insights.

  3. Imelda McGrattan

    January 13, 2010

    Ed, I couldn’t agree with you more. It is all about the experience. The aspect I find most interesting is when you talk about good and bad experiences people tend to bring up more examples of bad experiences and really have to think about the good ones, then you have to probe them for the information as to what was so good about it and get them to feel the emotion that was attached to it.

    If you ask me, there is a huge gap in the market for businesses to ensure that every contact they make with a customer is a good experience – FOR THE CUSTOMER !

  4. Stephen Roulac

    January 25, 2010

    Well expressed….Your place expereinces start before you arrive and continue after you depart. As all who encounter your place have parallel anticipation/memory influence upon their place impressions, positive place making and place marketing are premised uppn strategic, holistic. conscious, conscientious thinking.l

  5. […] For more on storytelling, read my previous blog posts – “Every Community has a Story, What’s Yours?” and “Creating Memorable Experiences”. […]

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