Q&A with Joe Pine, Co-founder at Strategic Horizons LLP

Media 7 | September 14, 2021

Joe Pine, Co-founder at Strategic Horizons LLP, is also an internationally acclaimed author, speaker, and management advisor to Fortune 500 companies and entrepreneurial start-ups alike. In 2020 Joe and his partner, James H. Gilmore, re-released in hardcover The Experience Economy: Competing for Customer Time, Attention, and Money, featuring an all-new preview to their best-selling 1999 book, The Experience Economy: Work Is Theatre & Every Business a Stage. He also co-wrote Infinite Possibility: Creating Customer Value on the Digital Frontier with Kim C. Korn, Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want with Mr. Gilmore, and in 1993 published his first book, the award-winning, Mass Customization: The New Frontier in Business Competition.

Joe consults with numerous companies around the world, helping them embrace the ideas and frameworks he writes about, develop concepts for creating more economic value, and see those concepts become reality. He has addressed the World Economic Forum, the original TED conference, and the Consumer Electronics Show. He has been a visiting scholar with the MIT Design Lab, the University of Amsterdam and has also taught at Penn State, Duke Corporate Education, the University of Minnesota, and UCLA’s Anderson Graduate School of Management, and today, he is a Lecturer in Columbia University’s Master’s Program in Technology Management in the School of Professional Studies.

The best way of generating demand for any offer – whether a commodity, a good, a service, or even an experience – is with an experience so engaging that customers cannot help but pay attention, spend their time with the company, and buy its offerings as a result.



MEDIA7: You have a profound professional experience of over 40 years. Could you please walk us through your journey?
JOE PINE:
I joined IBM after college with a degree in Applied Mathematics, being very much a computer nerd. But I quickly became interested in the business itself and moved into management and strategy. IBM sent me to MIT to get my Masters's Degree, and I used that opportunity to write my first book, Mass Customization. After leaving IBM to go out on my own I discovered that experiences were a distinct economic offering, and so with Jim Gilmore wrote The Experience Economy, which came out for the third time in 2020 with the new subtitle Competing for Customer Time, Attention, and Money. In between, I also wrote Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want with Jim, and Infinite Possibility: Creating Customer Value on the Digital Frontier. I eventually figured out that my purpose at work was to figure out what was going on in the world of business and develop frameworks that first describe what is going on and then prescribe what companies can do about it.


M7: You have been associated with Strategic Horizons LLP for an extensive period. Where was the company at when you started and where is it now?
JP:
I met Jim Gilmore shortly before I left IBM, and afterward he became a client, then a friend, and then my partner. We joined forces in 1996 to create Strategic Horizons LLP with Doug Parker, our Managing Partner. And that’s the way it is 25 years later, just how we like it! We don’t do projects, but rather work directly with executives to help them conceive and design new ways of adding value to their economic offerings. We call the business a ‘thinking studio’.


Companies should stage experiences that are robust, cohesive, personal, dramatic, and even transformative.



M7: Strategic Horizons offers the tools, experiences, and education to explore and master today’s economic marketplace. Could you please elaborate on this?
JP:
We conduct speeches, workshops, experience expeditions, and learning encounters. These inspire executives to think differently about their business, expose them to the ideas, frameworks, principles that can change their business and how it creates value, and develop ideas for doing so. We also coach Chief Experience Officers (CXOs) to help them transform their businesses into premier experience stagers. Our ‘Experience Economy Expert Certification’ course helps people truly internalize our concepts so they can teach and lead others, whether inside their business or for their clients. And we also have an online video training offering for frontline personnel called OnStage, which can help anyone learn principles of experience staging and act them out on their business stage.


M7: For over decades Strategic Horizons LLP has been the ‘first voice’ of the concepts it discusses. What is the inspiration behind it?
JP:
Yes, we discovered the Experience Economy and have been helping companies understand and embrace it ever since. Note that we didn’t invent it, for experiences have always been around. But we were the first to identify experiences as a distinct economic offering, and that was inspired by my first book Mass Customization. I realized that mass customizing a good automatically turns it into a service, and when asked what it turned a service into, said “It automatically turns a service into an experience.” Wow, I thought, that sounds good! I thought this through and realized that experiences were indeed distinct from services (as services are from goods), and therefore there would be an economy based on experiences. Everything else flowed from that initial insight. So, Mass Customization really is in the DNA of the Experience Economy.


So, Mass Customization really is in the DNA of the Experience Economy.



M7: Could you please share some tools and techniques regarding the marketing strategies that you've learned in recent years?
JP:
Companies must understand that in today’s Experience Economy, the experience is the marketing. The best way of generating demand for any offer – whether a commodity, a good, a service, or even an experience – is with an experience so engaging that customers cannot help but pay attention, spend their time with the company, and buy its offerings as a result. One of our frameworks we call the ‘Placemaking Portfolio’ describes ten different levels – five, in reality, five in virtuality – at which companies can stage such marketing experiences. They should use this model to develop their own portfolio of places that work together to generate demand for their core offerings – more effectively and with greater ROI than nearly any advertising campaign can do. The best marketing experiences in fact become profit centers themselves, for companies can and should charge admission for these experiences. This sends a signal that a place is worth experiencing, greatly lowers the costs and can again create profitability, and is eminently doable if one designs the experience to be worthy of an admission fee.


M7: You are an internationally acclaimed author, speaker, and management advisor to Fortune 500 companies and entrepreneurial start-ups. Could you please impart some wisdom and lessons to our readers?
JP:
First, understand what business you are really in. Do you sell commodities, goods, services, or are you – or can you be – in the experience business? Then you need to align your resources to go beyond the other offerings to stage engaging and memorable experiences. In the 2020 re-release of The Experience Economy, we identify the five core elements of experiences. Companies should stage experiences that are robust, cohesive, personal, dramatic, and even transformative. The book then has one or two chapters on each one of these elements that executives can follow to excel in the experience business. And I think the greatest possibilities lie in that last element – in guiding a set of experiences that help customers achieve their aspirations. It’s actually a fifth economy offering the above experiences that we call a transformation. And there is no more economic value you can create than to help customers – whether consumers, businesses, employees, students, beneficiaries, and so on – transform to achieve their aspirations.

ABOUT STRATEGIC HORIZONS

Internationally recognized business thought leaders, Pine & Gilmore originally pioneered the idea of the Experience Economy in the late 1990s. Subsequent decades of study, writing, and exploring these ideas live with clients around the world have given them unparalleled levels of insight into the nature of staging experiences and the evolution of how companies provide value.

Now, Strategic Horizons offers the tools, experiences, and education to explore and master today’s economic marketplace. Through speaking engagements, direct one-on-one guidance, workshops, and public events, you will find new ways to bring your business to the forefront of the Experience Economy. Using innovative performance techniques refined through thousands of client engagements, Strategic Horizons provides wholly unique perspectives and learning solutions.

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Internationally recognized business thought leaders, Pine & Gilmore originally pioneered the idea of the Experience Economy in the late 1990s. Subsequent decades of study, writing, and exploring these ideas live with clients around the world, have given them unparalleled levels of insight into the n...

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