A while back, I went to the Universal Studios theme park with my husband. He is a big Marvel comics fan, so he reveled in the chance to ride The Hulk roller coaster, take pictures with the characters, and to buy himself an Avengers keychain. He was also super proud of the Spiderman mugs he bought as souvenirs for his nephews.
I was struck by the number of people, particularly adults, who were walking around gleefully in their Harry Potter robes. I was even more fascinated by how many people bought Harry Potter wands -- some that could be used interactively within the park, and others that couldn't.
A few weeks later I went to the Magic Kingdom at Disney World, curious to see if people operated in the same manner. They absolutely did.
There were little girls everywhere walking around in princess dresses that mirrored their favorite characters, like Elsa, Tianna, and Cinderella. Many of those little girls got their princess-worthy hairstyles done in the children's hair salon within Cinderella's castle.
And last week, my friend's mother told me she's taking her grandchildren to Disney World over the Christmas holidays. She was so excited to tell me that they are scheduled to have brunch with Mickey and Minnie during the visit.
That's when it became clear to me: your customers don't just want to experience your product in the core way you offer it. When they connect with the products and services you provide, they will appreciate the opportunity to extend their experience with you in new and different ways.
Of course, there's an abundance of ways this can happen at places like theme parks with brands and franchises many are already familiar with.
But don't underestimate your ability to do this with your product line. Increasingly, brands of all sizes are starting to catch on to the power of extending their customer experience beyond just the basics of what they are used to offering, as a way to connect more deeply with their customers, increase their degree of impact with them, while at the same time increasing their revenue.
Here are two simple ways you can do the same.
1. Host live events.
Whether it is a conference, retreat, workshop, intimate meals, or even a pop-up event, there are a multitude of ways you can let your customers connect with you live and in the flesh.
When I first began my career as an entrepreneur, I loved attending conferences and small workshops of people I followed online. It was a way for me to get more of their knowledge, and to connect with other business owners who were walking the same path as me.
The main event doesn't even have to be one you throw yourself. It can be a small add-on experience that you sponsor that is connected to bigger events already happening. When I attended a podcast conference a few years ago, there were a number of brands and popular podcasters who hosted meet-ups before, during, and after the conference as a way to rally together with their fans who were in attendance.
The events don't always have to focus directly on your products either.
A woman I'm in a mastermind with told me about a dinner she attended in San Francisco hosted by her online accounting software. Although the company is based in Canada, she was impressed that they would set up the intimate dinners with entrepreneurs in various cities to enable them to connect with each other, because they know sometimes entrepreneurship can be a lonely road.
2. Create merchandise.
Creating and selling your own gear can be another way to extend the reach of the experience you deliver to your customers.
As an example, New-York Times best-selling author Rachel Hollis has an online store on her website. There her fans and followers can purchase journals, hats, water bottles, jewelry, and more. Many of the items feature phrases and core themes Hollis covers with her content.
Not only does the merchandise keep the Hollis brand top-of-mind with her customers, but it also helps them form a greater sense of community with others who are a part of her tribe as they see each others out and about with their gear.
Your customers will gladly give you more of their time, attention, and hard-earned dollars if you give them good enough reasons to do so. Extend your customer experience by offering additional relevant and delightful ways for your customers to engage with your brand.