Canyon Road Emotional Customer Engagement: Important Survive and Thrive Lessons for Any Business


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How well does your company create personalized, emotionally-based product or service uniqueness for every customer? At the dozens of Canyon Road galleries in Santa Fe, each of the proprietors must have been drinking from the same engagement fountain, because each is able to impart a ‘story’ of personal interest and value for their wares on a customer-by-customer basis.

On our vacations, wherever we visit my wife and I really enjoy immersing ourselves into the local arts scene. Nowhere was that easier, or more fun, than in Santa Fe. Not only is there the rich history of American Indian art from the Zuni and Navaho, but these cultures seem to blend effortlessly into the contemporary creativity of original designers and crafts people who have flocked there from all parts of the world. We met a jeweler originally from Paris, a painter and kaleidoscope-maker from Oxford, UK, a clothing designer from Northern New Jersey, a cowboy woodcarver – and on and on.

All of these crafters, designers, and artists shared a common trait. They love, and believe in, what they and sell, and they have the ability to convey their enthusiasm to potential buyers, and draw them into their world. This personal investment, the ‘story’ and emotional engagement in how they market, makes them distinctive. There’s less overt emphasis on being efficient and productive, for example, than in asking the potential customer to enter into the dialogue and bond with the seller. Oh yes, they often have very attractive websites and brochures to support their businesses, but it’s the personality and personalization they bring, and the willingness to engage and include, that makes them stand out.

In times gone by – before electronic media, then the Internet, then the advent of mobile communication – most businesses used to rely a lot more on individual customer inclusiveness and dialogue, and less on mass, ‘push’ marketing, where the voice of the customer is rarely a consideration. It was personalized ‘cracker barrel’ marketing and intrinsic, emotional context received a lot more attention. Some, like these Canyon Road artisans and shop owners, still do things this way. It’s certainly true that every enterprise needs to make efficiency, and bottom line profitability, among key priorities; but shouldn’t there also be more of a balance with understanding what engages and involves customers? On Canyon Road, that’s the way business is done – – and it’s refreshing.

Michael Lowenstein, PhD CMC
Michael Lowenstein, PhD CMC, specializes in customer and employee experience research/strategy consulting, and brand, customer, and employee commitment and advocacy behavior research, consulting, and training. He has authored seven stakeholder-centric strategy books and 400+ articles, white papers and blogs. In 2018, he was named to CustomerThink's Hall of Fame.


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