Charge Admission!

Note the ouster of The Sharper Image founder Richard Thalheimer:
Sharper Image’s Founder Is Out in Shake-Up

Not too long ago, okay maybe it was a long time ago, Thalheimer might have been properly seen as a pioneer in experience-staging. When Sharper Image stores first opened, it was not unusual for rope lines to form outside just to regulate the traffic flowing into the venues. But over time of course the novelty wore off and the places became just another ho-hum outlet in the experiential retail landscape.

And that’s the problem: It was experiential. Experiential. I loathe that adjective. Experiential marketing. Yuck! Experiential stores. Phooey! To be an economic experience (the noun, my friends), an experience offering, one must find ways to charge explicitly for time. For time is the currency of experiences.

And it’s high time to revisit the advice we advanced in The Experience Economy: Charge Admission!

Regardless of what business you are in, ask yourself: What would we do differently if we charged admission? (Yes, just to spend time with us!) Even if one does not end up charging explicitly for such time, the question will force thinking more creatively about the experiences being staged. For the experiences will need to be worthy of a fee in order to command a fee.

For Sharper Image, that might involve showcasing various experiences at appointed “show times”. It might mean charging a nominal fee that is then good toward the price of certain merchandise. It might mean charging membership fees or subscription fees to access certain lines of merchandise. It might mean offering actual gadget-based experiences (adventures, vacations, etc.) instead of just the gadgets.