Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Have you taken your kids to a museum or a zoo lately? Maybe a planetarium or some other destination that involves some sort of experience? Here’s how that experience might look:

First, you arrive. You might have to pay for parking, depending on where the center is. You might also have to pay admission, but most likely the entrance is free. At the very least, the admission isn’t very much.

Once you get inside, there’s a whole bunch of exhibits and activities all around. There’s lots of places where you and your kids can learn and dig and touch and experience whatever the theme of the destination is. Maybe it’s all about dinosaurs, or wildlife, or space. Your kids will probably rush in and start “feasting at the table” that’s spread there in front of them. You might have a tough time keeping up with them.

As you’re walking around, you might be a little hungry or thirsty, so you might spend a buck or two on a soda and a bag of chips each.

Then, you might notice some special exhibits that cost extra. Maybe one is a touring exhibit only there for a limited time, or maybe it’s one of those huge-screen Imax films. These things might cost anywhere from $5 to $15.

As you look at the printed program they gave you when you came in, you might notice that they’d love to have you contribute to the charitable foundation that supports the museum. Maintaining these places ain’t cheap, and they’d love to have help from those that have enjoyed the experience. You can buy a “membership” for as little as $50 or so, which allows you discounts on some of the other stuff, and maybe advance notice on special events. You could become a “patron” for as much as $500 or even more, where they would engrave your name on a big wall.

Finally, just before you leave, you hit the gift store. You’ve just had a great experience, and your kids want T-shirts, and toys, and hats, and souvenirs.

Let’s look at what happened:

1. You got in for free (or very little money), and you got to experience a lot of really cool stuff just for showing up.
2. They offered you a chance to enhance your experience by upgrading into a better package.
3. They presented you with opportunities to get involved that were all across a price spectrum. Some things were cheap, some quite expensive.
4. Finally, there was an opportunity to shop.

So, let’s talk about how to make this business model applicable to your website.

First, entice people to come into your site, and participate in the experience. That means content: Articles, information, interactive bits, relevant games. Have them join a forum, or comment on a blog. Bring them in and let them get their hands dirty in your site.

Second, get them interested in some advanced features of your site. Offer some special services to “members”. Offer some products to them that are not available to regular shoppers, or a bit of special consulting time.

Third, don’t just carry cheap products, and don’t go exclusively high-end. Make sure that all your products are relevant to the theme of your site, but offer a wide variety. Not all fine jewelry costs $2000.

Lastly, After they’ve looked around the site content and enjoyed the tour, let them shop through your catalog.

These four steps can change your web business from a simple website to a destination!

1 comment:

  1. not that i have a website, but this is a great model that I will certainly keep in the back of my mind at try to apply to all sorts of things. Thanks!