Creating Jobs by Adding Love to Your Community – Part III
I know this sounds like a fluff title, but in this article you will see one of the most powerful ways to make your community, organization, or business stand out, and attract people, money and jobs. Part I of this series described multiple small businesses that arose next to a national park, while Part II of this series included the Price Value Curve and how adding value to the assets of your community, organization, or business draws people and customers to your community. It also allows you to charge higher prices. Moving from non-differentiated commodities to products and services, to packages, to experiences, to love is a path to more value and jobs.
Tourism Example: Consider visitors coming to your community, staying in an inexpensive hotel, eating at fast food restaurants (because your other restaurants close early), and renting a boat to go fishing. Contrast this with visitors going to a neighboring community for a tourism package that includes staying at a bed and breakfast (or Airbnb), eating at a really nice restaurant, enjoying an eco-tour and guided fishing expedition the next day, and ending their stay with a visit to a local artist to have their portraits painted. Which community is going to thrive in the long run?
Local Foods Example: Consider the contrast between buying tomatoes in a grocery store (a commodity) vs. purchasing heritage tomatoes at a farmers’ market during a music festival, at which time you and your love ride around in a horse-drawn carriage with a bottle of champagne, and a violinist in the back of the carriage playing your favorite music.
Retail Example: Your retail store sells many products also sold be big box stores. It is a very competitive business, based primarily on price. So adding value to your products through extraordinary service and other benefits could give you a competitive edge over your competitors. You have the opportunity to know and understand your customer and his/her needs better than any large discount retailer.
How much are people willing to pay for an experience they will never forget? Do you want to compete with every other community or business on the basis of the lowest price, or do you want to do something so extraordinary that people will go home and tell all of their friends and relatives?
The ultimate on the Price Value Curve is Love, which are those products, services, and experiences that we fall in love with. Think of some incredible experience you had – a place you stayed, a restaurant, a family vacation, or service you received that just knocked your socks off – this is the power of love. It touched your soul, and you experienced personal delight that is uncommon in our life experience.
The Power of Love – Raving Fans
When your community, organization, or business achieves this with your visitors, two things happen:
Take a look at this WOW meter – when people visit your community, event, or business, what do they experience? Where would they rate their experience on the WOW meter?
Just as raving fans return and bring their friends, so can disgruntled customers do real damage to a business. Consider the couple who had a lousy experience at your restaurant: not only will not be coming back (5 times over the course of a year x 2 people), but they will also tell their friends (10 friends x 5 times), and will go on-line to give your restaurant a terrible review (200 visitors). You have just lost 355 meals! It would have been better to have given them their meals for free, coupons for free meals, and a box of chocolates!
Branding and Becoming Part of Their Identity
If your community has an attractive and compelling brand – a logo and tagline that expresses who you are and what you promise to the world, it is easier for your visitors and citizens to relate to and remember your community. Every good brand has a brand promise, so it is important for you to deliver on your brand or you will never see them again. Actually, in the digital era, you probably will never see them in the first place, as on-line reviews of your community tell the world that you promise a lot and don’t deliver on your promise.
Brand Example: Heber Springs AR has adopted the brand “Spectacular by Nature”. This is a compelling brand and builds on the natural assets in the area – a beautiful lake, river, and wooded hills. It also has a second meaning, implying that if you visit Heber Springs, you will have a spectacular experience because the community and its people are spectacular; it is their nature. Now that is a brand promise!
It may even become part of their identity – of who they are. Harley Davidson motorcycles is a great example. Many Harley riders wear Harley Davidson t-shirts and jackets, because being a Harley rider is an expression of who they are – tough, rugged, independent, and mobile. How would you like to have visitors to your community or business so excited about what you offer that they wear clothing with your brand on it, advertising you to the world? I Love New York brand and t-shirts is another example.
Forming an On-Line Community
Another dimension of love is the formation and nurturing of an on-line community, using digital tools such as social media. A few examples:
Strategic Questions for You in Your Community
People are on the move. They move from communities, organizations, and businesses that don’t fill their needs to communities where they do, where they feel the love. You can have all of the hard stuff – infrastructure, schools, incentives, work force, etc., but if you don’t have the soft stuff that shows you care about your community and them as visitors, they won’t come, or they won’t come back. Why should they? How can you have extraordinary experiences when your motels are second rate and all of the cute stores on Main Street close at 6 p.m. and on weekends? In this digital era, if you are closed or don’t have a web presence, you don’t exist.
Would your community pass The Gate Test? If a fence was built around your community and someone opened the gate, would more people come in through the gate or would more people leave?
Remember – people don’t care how much you know about your community until they know how much you care about them.