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James Gilmore  

Renowned Expert on Consumer Engagement & Experiential Marketing; Co-Founder of Strategic Horizons

James H. Gilmore is co-founder of Aurora, Ohio-based Strategic Horizons LLP, a thinking studio dedicated to helping businesses conceive and design new ways of adding value to their economic offerings. Gilmore works with management teams to grasp the nature of the emerging “Experience Economy” and envision their role in it—whether it be staging experiences, guiding transformations or mass customizing any economic offering. Gilmore is a frequent speaker at professional society and trade association conferences, as well as executive education programs of individual companies. His ideas have been published in many of the world’s leading publications, including the Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, and Investor’s Business Daily among others.

Gilmore is also co-author with B. Joseph Pine II of The Experience Economy: Work is Theatre & Every Business a Stage. The book demonstrates how companies, from a myriad of industries, are finding their goods and services commoditized with customers increasingly spending their money on experiences— memorable events that engage customers in an inherently personal way. It also shows how businesses can create value by embracing theatre as an operating model to stage unique experiences that ultimately transform those who participate in them. As a follow-up, Pine and Gilmore edited Markets of One: Creating Customer- Unique Value through Mass Customization.

Gilmore began his career with Procter & Gamble and then spent over ten years consulting with Cleveland Consulting Associates and Computer Sciences Corporation, heading up CSC Consulting’s process innovation practice. A Batten Fellow at The Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia, he previously served as the 2002-2003 Dean Helen LeBaron Hilton Endowed Co-chair at the College of Family & Consumer Sciences at Iowa State University. He has also lectured at Case Western's Weatherhead School of Management, Cornell's School of Hotel Administration, and Rochester Institute of Technology's College of Applied Science and Technology.

Gilmore is a certified instructor in the lateral thinking methodologies of Dr. Edward Debono. He also serves on the faculty of The Institutes for Organization Management for the US Chamber of Commerce, and works with both for-profit and non-profit enterprises to foster innovative thinking.

Speech Topics


These are basic descriptions only to serve as starting points for a discussion with the client, resulting in a customized presentation.

Welcome to the Experience Economy

Apple Stores, Build-a-Bear Workshop, Cirque du Soleil, ING Direct Caf, the Geek Squad. Do these companies conjure up images of mere goods and services, or do they invoke something moresomething visceral? Welcome to the Experience Economy, where businesses must form unique connections in order to secure customer affectionsand ensure economic vitality. In this thought-provoking speech, Jim Gilmore takes this enduring idea and enriches its application to the demands of today's increasingly time-starved world. With both new models, refreshed examples, and an insightfully different perspective for our digital age, this presentation offers a practical approach for helping companies engage customers in personal and memorable ways.

Get Real: Authenticity is the New Quality

In a world filled with ever more mediated and staged experiences an increasingly unreal world consumers are now making decisions based on how real they perceive various offerings to be. As a result, enterprises must become adept at rendering authenticity. Finding ways to tap into this emerging sensibility will become essential for success in the years and decades to come. This new challenge can be defined best as the management of the customer perception of authenticity. To be blunt: you must get real and not just claim youre real.

Everything You Need to Innovate Can Be Learned From Reality TV

One of the privileges for Jim Gilmore to result from the success of The Experience Economy is the number of entrepreneurs who contact him for feedback about the launch of their experience-based ventures. In this session, Gilmore will walk through ten start-up businesses that have approached him in recent years in search of advice and/or capital. Gilmore has secured permission from each new venture to share their basic business concept. The audience will then vote on which they think is most viable. In a shockingly unexpected finale to the talk, Gilmore will share his perspective on the role Reality TV played in conceptualizing each new enterprise!

Design What? How Goods, Services and Experiences Differ in Value

Jim Gilmore will share his perspective on excellent design, and how successful design necessarily varies for goods, services, and experiences. He will share his perspective on the design appeal of the (experience) enterprises that have won Pine & Gilmores Experience Stager of the Year (EXPY) award, but then present examples of the physical things (goods) and intangible activities (services) that he most admires for their design distinctions and the principles he detects that create their appeal.

Differentiating Your Business in the Experience Economy

How does any enterprise prosper today? The key is offering compelling experiences that engage customers in a personal and memorable way. Offering goods and services is no longer enough to differentiate one’s business. In this talk, Gilmore not only describes the shifting dynamics in how value is being generated in advanced economies, he shares a portfolio of specific methods for staging revenue-generating experiences. And he illustrates each technique with exemplars that demonstrate how to create experiential value in very practical terms. Audiences walk away with insights on experience innovation as well as a rich set of tools for staging such experiences.

Designing Experiences in the Digital Age

Addressing the tension between the physical and the virtual, this presentation opens with a short “pre-show” (think Pixar short-animation before the main feature film) that vividly visualizes the impact that “life on the screen” is having on the consumer landscape. What follows is an eye-opening survey of today’s consumer landscape via “A Year in the Life of Doug & Cheryl”—using one fictional couple as a Design Persona to help executives and managers see the world differently, through the eyes of everyday people. Then the bulk of Gilmore’s talk outlines six core approaches for successfully designing experiences in the digital age—customization, gamification, subscription, admission, transformation, and randomization—in a most thought provoking session.

Thinking about Leadership Thinking

Leadership requires ongoing thinking about the very leadership principles and practices employed to inspire, direct, and encourage an organization’s people as they work together toward common goals. In this talk, Gilmore walks through eight sources of useful thoughts to help leaders refresh and renew their own thinking about leadership. Each serves as a resource for future study as various issues are explored—ranging from assessing personal and professional friendships, orchestrating group dynamics, scanning cultural trends, improving observational skills, identifying future talent, seizing marketplace opportunities, enriching self-awareness, and fostering curiosity.

Athenticity in Business

Work is Theater

Mass Customization

Cultivating Learning Relationships

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