Want to Sell More? Engage the Senses

Artisans can learn from the example of The Pleasant Company started by Pleasant Rowland, ex schoolteacher turned maker of the American Girl doll collection. If you haven’t heard of them, more than 30 million American Girl® dolls have been sold through the company’s catalogue, retail stores, and website since 1986.

As told in the book, The Experience IS the Marketing, by James H. Gilmore and B. Joseph Pine II, Pleasant created an experiential venue called ‘The American Girl Place’ in Chicago where women customers take in a live ‘The American Girls Revue,’ eat at a café, have their photos on a copy of American Girl Magazine and get their doll’s hair styled.

The company became so successful, it was bought by Mattel. According to Gilmore and Pine, advisors to Fortune 500 companies, “The best way to market any offering (good, service, or experience) is with an experience so engaging that potential customers can’t help but pay attention – and pay up.”

I’ve noticed when selling at live events like craft shows, if I can get shoppers to try on one of my handwoven scarves and then look in the mirror, they are likely to buy. They have both touched the item and seen it. I even experimented with using a few drops of essential oils to also engage the sense of smell. But not everyone was attracted to the same smells so I stuck with getting people to touch the scarves.

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