Connecting the Physical to the Digital

IMG_0516Recently, while on a family vacation, I noticed something in a couple of stores … and thought I’d share.

My kids wanted to venture into the Disney Store and Build-A-Bear, and I went along for the ride. While in both stores, I saw signs that directed customers to check out the stores’ websites. But not just for kicks – look at what the signs said:

Disney: “Visit DisneyStore.com for an Additional Selection of …”

Build-A-Bear: “have fun and give back at Buildabearville.com.”

This is cool. Why? In both cases, the stores didn’t just have a sign letting customers know they have websites. Nope. Instead, they directed customers to visit the store websites for specific reasons.

By providing those reasons, they helped extend the customer experience with the store onto the web (and into our homes), after the fact. This type of after-the-purchase experience is sometimes called a “post-show” experience. The actual “show” was buying the product or visiting the store.

We can go a bit further with this, too. Look at the specific instructions we are given: Disney directs us to “an additional selection” of stuff. Think about that for a sec – they’re saying the larger, more complete store isn’t the physical store – it’s the digital store – the website.

Build-A-Bear directs us to their virtual world, where we can “have fun and give back.” OK – I don’t get the “”give back” part. But the “have fun” part I do understand! They’re giving you a specific reason to visit their website, and are suggesting it will be a fun experience. I’m guessing they get a lot of first-time traffic with those signs!

When you leave our libraryGuess what? We can do this too!

Look at this pic of a sign in my library, for instance (bigger version here). For a while, we had this large banner sign up by the exit doors – everyone walking past saw this sign. Our goal was simply to remind people that although they were leaving our physical building, their library experience didn’t have to end there. They can visit our digital branch and still do lots of stuff!

We could also direct customers to our “larger store.” Think about this for a sec – which place gives you a larger selection of library materials: browsing the shelves at the physical library … or visiting the online library catalog and putting stuff on hold?

Your larger, more complete library is NOT the physical building. It’s the website – the digital branch.

I’m guessing there are other ways to connect customers to your digital branch, as well as other reasons to do so… what are they? I’d love to hear them!

Update on Podcamp Topeka

Not remembering if I’ve mentioned this or not … but we’re hosting a Podcamp at Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library! It will be held on September 19, 8:30 am – 3:30 pm at the library, and we’re planning for an extremely fun and informative day. We’re planning for 150 people (74 have signed up so far!).

What’s a podcamp? It’s a FREE unconference dedicated to emerging web media – social networks, podcasting & videoblogging, blogging, Twitter, Facebook, photography, and web design, for starters. Our goal? To learn about social media from social media experts, to network with fellow bloggers, podcasters & social media creators … and to have a blast!

Yep – you heard right. It’s free. Thanks to our sponsors (WIBW and the library so far), the space, food (continental breakfast and a sandwich lunch), and a t-shirt are all free. All you have to do is register, show up, and … talk/network/learn/have fun.

Here’s some more info about the podcamp:

I’ll make sure to update everyone after it’s over, too, to let everyone know how it went.

And – the YouTube video below is me, talking about Podcamp Topeka. WIBW took the video, has it up on their website, and is running it periodically on TV. Wow.