Experience Design may seem like a heady and foreign concept to many small business owners. However, understanding experience design is critical, and those who incorporate the fundamentals of experience design into their small business marketing strategy tend to stand out from their competition.

Good News, Bad News
If you’re not exactly sure what Experience Design is, the good news is that you already incorporate it in your small business every day. The bad news is that if you don’t realize that you’re already doing it then chances are you’re not doing it well and it could have a negative impact on your bottom line. No worries. Mood is here to help with a short primer and some simple steps to get you in the game.

What’s Really Happening in my Business?
So how are you incorporating Experience Design in your business today? Let’s see. Take a full day away from your normal routine and consciously observe your business from a different perspective. A good way to approach this exercise is to focus on one sense at a time. What do your customers see, hear, smell, touch and taste? Capture and consider every single moment of engagement with your customers—leave no touchpoint unturned. Have a notepad handy and jot down things that jump out at you. It may be helpful to get others on your team to do this exercise as well, since building team awareness of Experience Design is fundamental to getting better at it.

What are your Customer Really Thinking?
Once you’ve completed your assessment, make some time to get with your team and discuss what you you’ve discovered. Ask yourselves some important questions like,

“Why did we choose this color scheme, layout, furniture and uniform? What do these elements say about our business?”

“Where do our customers go when they are inside our store?”

“What do they do and what do they look at when they are not engaged with an employee?”

“What do they look at or watch? What are they listening to? How do they respond to what they see and hear?”

“Why? Why, why, why?”

Chances are you’ll learn a lot about the experience you’re creating for your customers and come up with some great ideas. It’s also a good bet that you’ll realize you’re really screwing some things up and falling way short in the “design” department of experience, and therein lays the challenge . . . .

Building on a Brand Promise
The word “design” implies purpose and intent–a uniform and strategic approach. To build an effective and consistent experience, everything about your business needs to exist or happen for a reason that is tightly connected to your brand promise. (Don’t have a brand promise? Keep an eye out for our next post in this series for guidance.) Run every single touchpoint of engagement through the brand promise filter and determine if it makes sense. Change any “willy-nilly” aspect about your business to make sure it fits. Build a punch list, prioritize, and set goals for checking items off.

Keep Dreaming . . .
Your business is not stagnant, so it only makes sense that you remain vigilant and stand ready to change. This is how some businesses get a jump on their competition. At least once a month, you should go through the Experience Design and Brand Promise assessment exercise to make sure you’re staying on track and getting better. Too many businesses start with a clear dream that fades away once the reality of what it takes to run a business sets in and dominates your time and energy. Experience the power of your dreams, your vision, and your brand promise. Go back to those touchstones often with purpose and intent. By design.

– Submitted by Sumter Cox, Communications