What companies need, therefore, is a new approach to demand creation that actually enables — make that forces — a company to be what it says it is. To borrow the phrase architect Jon Jerde made famous, that discipline is placemaking. Places are what provide the primary means for companies to demonstrate exactly what they are for both current and potential customers. Companies that embrace placemaking understand a fundamental dictum for contending with authenticity: The experience is the marketing. In other words, the best way to generate demand for any offering — whether a commodity, good, service, other experience, or even a transformation — is for potential (and current) customers to experience that offering in a place so engaging that they can’t help but pay attention, and then pay up as a result by buying that offering. Stop saying what your offerings are through advertising, and start creating places — permanent or temporary, physical or virtual, fee-based or free — where people can experience what those offerings, as well as your enterprise, actually are.
James H. Gilmore (email@example.com) and B. Joseph Pine II (firstname.lastname@example.org) are cofounders of Strategic Horizons LLP.