Do Your Customers Feel Like They Belong?

Posted by:

I went to hear a Beatles tribute band last night. That, in itself is not remarkable. I see a lot of Beatles tribute bands. But here’s what struck me. I got to the venue a half hour early, and there was already a line. But this wasn’t a line waiting to get in; this was a line hoping to get in. See, the venue was already filled to capacity, and they weren’t letting anybody else enter. (Fortunately, by virtue of being a Beatles guy, I had connections in the band, so I was allowed in while the rest of the line scowled at me.) Later I found out that some people in line waited for an hour or more to see the last portion of the show.

Now, these people were all Beatles fans. I’m guessing that each and every one of them had all of the Beatles CDs at home, and probably on their iPods as well. And yet there they were, waiting for an hour to see four guys put on some wigs, pick up some instruments, and play—albeit in a competent manner—music that never quite captured the brilliance of the original versions. So why did they do that? And, more importantly, how can this help us in our own businesses?

The reason, I believe, is that we are social animals, and we love a shared experience. It didn’t matter that the band wasn’t as good as the actual Beatles; what mattered was that we were all sharing the experience together. We were bonded by it. People like to believe that they are a part of something. We like to be members of the club. Last night, I was a member of the Beatles club; so was everybody else there. That’s why people were willing to wait for an hour to get in—they wanted to be a part of the club.

What experience (or experiences) can you offer to your customers or clients to make them feel like they belong to something? To make them think, “Yes, this is where I belong!”

There’s a little Mexican restaurant near me that I go to a lot. The owners and employees know me, they greet me by name. Whenever I go there, I recognize at least a few of the other diners. Some I know by name, but not all. It doesn’t matter. When we see each other, there’s a nod of acknowledgment—a small one, but enough to say, “We’re in the same club. We belong here.”

And it’s not just the little Mom and Pop places that know the importance of the shared experience. Look at what Apple has done with its products. iPhone users (and there are millions of us) still feel like we’re part of the club. We have the shared experience of using the iPhone. I don’t see Nokia users feeling the same way. Recently I spoke to a convention of Harley-Davidson dealers, and believe me, the sense of belonging that comes from being a Harley owner is very, very real!

The Beatles (the real ones) galvanized an entire generation of people, all around the world. Tens of millions of baby boomers had the collective feeling of “this is where I belong” whenever they listened to Beatles music blaring out of their transistor radios. (Note to younger readers: a “transistor radio” was kind of like a large iPod that played static-filled music through a single, crappy speaker.) Forty years later, we still have that feeling. We still love that shared experience, which is why we line up to see grown men pretend to be the Fab Four.

Take a look at your own business. Look for ways to give your customers a sense of that shared experience. After all, wouldn’t you like your customers to be thinking, “Yes, this is where I belong!”?


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
  Related Posts