How To Get Great Testimonials (Without Pressuring or Badgering)

I’m often asked, “How do you get good testimonials?”

Of course, the truest answer is, “Do good work.”

Without that, nothing I am about to say holds much water.

But, if we don’t acknowledge that it’s possible to do wonderful work and not be furnished with written testimonials from the very people you served, well… then my advice wouldn’t hold much water either.

There is a fear that underwrites this question: a deep concern about not wanting to burden, pressure or bother people with the request.

It’s a noble, if misguided sentiment.

The assumption that underwrites these concerns is that ‘we have to ask everyone’.

And so, having said all of that, I’d like to offer an approach to getting testimonials that I have used over the years, that feels good to me and that seems to result in the appearance of fine words of endorsement on my site.

Step 1) Deliver your product or service. There are four levels at which this can happen.

Step 2) Ask for feedback. This is the main secret. After most programs or after offering any new service for which testimonials would be useful, I ask people these two questions:

Question 1: How would you rate this from 1-10? (1 being low and 10 being high).

Question 2: If this wasn’t a 10, what would it have needed to be a 10?

Those two questions tell you a great deal.

Question 1 will give you a realistic sense of the value people are receiving from your product or service.

Question 2 will give you incredibly useful feedback on what was missing that should have been there or what was absent that should have been.

But… Question 1 also does something very important you might not have considered: it tells you from whom you should asking for testimonials.

My rule: If I get an 8/10 or above I ask for a testimonial. A 7/10 or below and I don’t.

If I get a seven or below, I will focus on getting more feedback if it seems there’s feedback to be had and use that feedback to make my products or services better.

If it’s an eight or above I’ll ask for a testimonial. If they gave it an eight or above they’re almost universally happy to be asked. If you ask someone to write you some kind words for your website and they rated your offerings a four out of ten, they may resent your asking.

Five Questions That Can Get You Good Testimonials?

So often people, even though they love your work, will report feeling stymied on exactly what words to write. Someone can love your work and feel too daunted to write you a testimonial or write a well-intentioned but piss poor testimonial.

The key is to ask good questions.

What follows are my favourite questions to ask (of course these can and should be modified from ‘buying’ to ‘signing up’, ‘attending’ or whatever word fits for your scenario).

1) What did I honestly think of this before buying?

I love this question because it makes whatever testimonial they write more credible and relatable. There’s a heavy chance that whoever might read their words in the future will have the same prejudices about your product or service before signing up.

When I used to run workshops for high schools I’d ask them this question and they’d tell me, “Before I came to this workshop I thought it was going to be lame with some old white guy standing at the front of the room giving motivational speeches all day…” I must have read basically those same words a dozen times.

So, when I put those testimonials in the sales letter for the program and teachers and students would read it, they’d think, “Wow. Those people had the same fears about it as me but it turned out okay. Maybe this isn’t such a bad idea.”

But also, when you see the same patterns of perception over and over, the same fears and concerns, this can actually become incredible content for your sales copy.

It can be turned into headlines, subheadlines, taglines etc.

You can speak to the risks, fears and doubts you know that folks are likely to have about your work immediately and directly. That builds an immense amount of trust and credibility. It tells people that you ‘get it’. It meets them with empathy.

2) What was holding me back from buying?

This might give the same answer as above but it also might yield new information. Their answer to this will both help you see your offers through the eyes of the client but also make the testimonials read as more grounded and realistic. Someone newer to your work will read them and think, “Ah! I’m not the only one who had the same concern about buying.”

And, of course, the feedback might help you actually structurally change your offer. For example, if they say, “I was scared to sign up because I wasn’t sure it would make me money” you might offer an iron clad money-back guarantee or a ‘double your money back’ guarantee. You might offer more free content up front to assuage their fear.

You might offer it on a pay what you want basis. You might gather more case studies of clients you’ve helped and the money you made them. You might double down on making your process better so that people are more likely to make money (or get whatever the relevant result or benefit is).

3) What turned your decision around?

Their answer to this question can help walk a potential client through the logic they need to sign up. It might highlight a part of your offer or sales letter that they hadn’t noticed before. But it also tells you what’s working in your sales copy that you can expand on, develop further and make more prominent.

4) What was the most important positive outcome you experienced as a result of buying?

This is huge. This is what I call Island B. Their answer to this question tells you what you are actually selling. I recall a financial advisor who mostly worked with couples being shocked to realize that his work was, for many of his clients, actually marriage counselling. Couples were waiting to have their financial conversations until he was in the room.

It took me a while to realize that the core of my Marketing for Hippies 101 daylong workshop was that it helped people find a way to market themselves that felt good. It seemed too simple but I heard it over and over and it helped me actually structure my day around this central theme that ‘marketing can feel good’.

Again, the answer to this makes the testimonial more compelling because it tells people that they might be able to get that result they’re craving by working with you but it also gives you great information for your headlines and subheadlines in your sales copy.

5) What do you think of this product/service now?

This is the bookend. The testimonial began with their likely not entirely flattering set of fears and assumptions about your work and now it ends with this new appraisal. This is immensely comforting to those who are on the fence. And it lets you know how your business is seen by those you have helped.

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Testimonials are a powerful way to build trust. If you’re interested in a deeper dive into my thoughts on building trust, you might want to check out my “Deep Trust” package.

Good Hands

43547063 - massage therapist standing by bassage tavle with hands crossed and looking outside the window

Your clients want to know they’re in good hands with you.

I’m thinking about this because I just came back from a mediocre massage.

The style wasn’t one I liked. A bit too abrupt. Not as flowing and as intuitive as I like.

But that wasn’t the big issue.

In fact, there were no big issues.

There was her walking in on me while I was undressing. The bolster being positioned wrong when I lay down and her not noticing. Her cold hands at the start of the massage. When I flipped over she didn’t readjust the bolster. In other massages, it’s been something different: finger nails not trimmed, going way too hard, not checking in on how it’s going, the room being too hot or too cold. There are lot of tiny things that can add up to a massage not being great.

At the end of this massage, I lay there, face up, with an eye pillow over my eyes, relaxing. Rather than saying, “Ok. It’s over. Take your time getting up. I’ll bring you some water.” and leaving, she abruptly pulled the eye pillow off and me out of what little reverie and relaxation had been achieved. “How was it?”

“It was alright.” I said feeling a bit jarred. This was a question I was wishing she would have saved until after I was up and dressed.

“Oh no!” she said. “I’m sorry. What could I have done better?”

And so I shared my experience with her. She seemed to take it in. It’s how we all learn.

She asked me if I wanted a glass of water. I nodded and said, “yes.” And then lay there waiting for five minutes until I realized she wasn’t coming back. I got up and got dressed. She was waiting outside the door for me having misheard me to say that, “No,” I didn’t want a glass of water. Her English was not very good. She was sweet. It happens.

That she asked me so sincerely for feedback saved the whole thing for me. Without that, it would have been a write-off. That’s good to remember. People are so incredibly forgiving when they feel valued and that their issues have really been heard.

None of those things are big. And yet, put together, they add up to the person on the table not being able to relax, always feeling like they need to manage the experience or be on guard a little, not being able to trust the hands they’re in.

Perhaps you’ve had this with a life coach, business coach, contractor, consultant or therapist. You can’t seem to relax because you don’t trust them.

This all matters so profoundly for marketing.

Remember: word of mouth is based on their experience of working with us (or what they hear about the experience from others) so, if the experience is off (due to big things or a dozen smaller things) the word of mouth will wither up and dry or, worse, become a downward spiral instead.

It’s like that.

Remember: people can be petty. People have a hard time saying, ‘No’. People rarely ever give feedback unless asked. They just volunteer. Your clients are not enlightened sages with impeccable communication and boundaries.

This dynamic of people craving to be able to relax and trust in your guidance is true for any business you can think of. People come in full of stress and pain. They want our help. They want to know they are in good hands and that they can relax those muscles that have been clenched too long.

This doesn’t mean you don’t ask things of them. It means they trust what you’re asking of them.

It doesn’t mean you don’t get them to do some work too. It means they trust this work has a chance of paying off.

It means that, when they’re around you, they can just relax and open to your help.

We all crave to find some good hands into which we can collapse sometimes.

Imagine yourself as your own client: are you relaxed or slightly vigilant?

Imagine yourself as your own client: what kinds of hands are you in?

Additional Reading: 

I Don’t Care How Good You Are At What You Do

On Promises

38592537 - a mother and her child hooking their fingers to make a promise, vintage style

The purpose of marketing is to make promises.

The purpose of your business is to keep them.

Most traditional cultures in the world are overflowing with proverbs around the importance of keeping your word and doing what you say you will do.

It’s certainly true for my own Scottish and Celtic ancestry.

“If I break faith, may the skies fall upon me, may the seas drown me, may the earth rise up and swallow me.” – ancient Gaulish oath of the elements

“We of the Fianna never told a lie. Falsehood was never attributed to them. But by truth and the strength of our hands, we came safe out of every combat.” – Ladaoidh Chunaic an Air, anon. Irish Poem

And the following Scottish Gaelic seanfhaclan (literally ‘old words’ or proverbs)…

B’fheàrr gun tòiseachadh na sguir gun chrìochnachadh.
(Better not to begin than stop without finishing).

Am fear as mò a gheallas, ‘s e as lugha cho-gheallas.
(He that promises the most will perform the least).

Gealladh gun a’choimhghealladh, is miosa sin na dhiùltadh
(Promising but not fulfilling, is worse than refusing).

Am fear a tha grad gu gealladh, ‘s tric leis mealladh.
(Quick to promise often deceives).

Chan eil fealladh ann cho mòr ris an gealladh gun choimhlionadh.
(There is no deceit/fraud so great as the promise unfullfilled).

My guess is that, if you looked to your own ancestry, you’d find similar things. Without the ability to trust the words of others, there is no capacity for culture.

There are four levels of relating to your promises:

  1. You over-promise and under-deliver. This is the worst. It creates disappointment and a terrible reputation.
  2. You promise and deliver. This is solid and will get you a fine reputation as someone who is reliable. This is the bare minimum for being in business.
  3. You under-promise and over-deliver. This is rare. This will earn you rave reviews and endless word of mouth.
  4. You don’t promise at all. You just deliver value for the joy of it. Imagine the utter delight of your clients to get something from you that they didn’t even expect. 

Your reputation, and thus the amount of word of mouth you receive, will be largely be determined by the degree to which you are able to deliver (or over-deliver) on your promises.

What are you promising people? Is this clear?

And what level are you at right now in terms of your delivering?

Additional Reading: 

Are you marketing the journey or the boat?

The Art of Relevance

Trust and the Taxi Driver

13618562_sI caught a cab the other day.

Actually a TappCar (Edmonton’s response to the terrible taxi cab industry and Uber). They have priced themselves in between the two. I could give you ten reasons why I love them.

But there are always issues.

I was heading to visit my grandmother in the hospital.

“I want to stop at the Booster Juice on 104 St and 78 Ave.” I told him as we pulled away from my home. I knew I’d be at the hospital for at least six hours tonight and I hadn’t eaten much lunch and wouldn’t be able to get away for dinner.

“By the Save On?” He asked.

“That’s the one!”

After a few minutes I looked up from my phone and realized he’d never made the turn to go to Booster Juice. I was hungry and he was busy following his GPS taking me to the hospital.

“I asked you to go to Booster Juice first.”

From his response, it was as if I’d never asked him about it at all. I sat there confused. It was the first thing I’d told him. He’d seemed to understand and, as we were clarifying the issue and how that had been missed, which I never figured out, he kept driving down 109 St. taking us further and further away.

“Do you want me to go back?”

I shook my head and pulled out my phone. “I’ll see if I can find one closer to the hospital.”

It’s not the first time this has happened to me in a cab. Maybe it was that their English wasn’t good and they didn’t want to admit they’d not understood me. Maybe it was that they didn’t listen. Maybe they had something big going on in their life and they just weren’t able to listen. Maybe all of that. Maybe something else. But result was the same.

The trust was broken.

And I know it’s a small thing. I know that any upset I had was, in part, fueled by being hungry. I also know it’s petty and emotionally small of me. I get all of that. But it’s how it is for most of us.

This happens all the time in business and in life. A trust is given and then it’s broken. It happens in big ways like infidelity in a relationship and in very small ways like this.

I remember hearing my friend Decker Cunov telling the story of an event he’d been at where a man had picked up a woman by her hand and foot and was spinning her around as she laughed and giggled. And then her head hit the concrete pole with a sickening and loud sound. It wasn’t the pain that hurt the most. It was the betrayal. She’s surrendered to the moment, trusting him to look after her and he had let her down. He wasn’t careful with that trust.

It’s what we all want in life sometimes. To be able to relax and know we’re being taken care of. We want to know we’re in good hands. We want to get in the cab, zone out and trust they’ll get us there without our having to direct them. We want to tell the massage therapist what feels good and doesn’t to us and then relax into the massage, trusting that they heard us. We want to go to a therapist and trust they’ll hear what we say and, if we’re really lucky, pick up on what we aren’t saying. Sometimes we just want to surrender to the process.

But, as soon as we realize that someone can’t be trusted, we can’t relax. We have to remain vigilant which may defeat the purpose or rob much of the joy from the experience.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of riding in a black cab in London, it’s remarkable. You’re in such good hands. They spend three years studying London until they know the entire map of the city inside and out. You just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

If you’ve ever been served by a world class server at a restaurant, it’s something to experience. It inspires your utter relaxation. Everything they do says, “You relax. I’ve got this.”

I recall reading an article that suggested that the three sexiest words a man could say to a woman were, “I’ve got this.” And it doesn’t have to be a binary gendered, heteronormative relationship to feel good about hearing those words.

And, when we do, we are incredibly vulnerable.

Your clients are like this with you. They’re coming in scared, ashamed, overwhelmed or heartbroken. Or all of them. If we are very lucky, they trust us. If you’re aware it’s been placed on you, you come to see, very quickly, that it’s less of a gold medal being pinned to your lapel for all the good that you’ve done and more of a heavy, lopsided burden for you to carry into the future.

The trust is not there to make our heads big or gratify our ego. It’s the human making burden that tells you, ‘You have an impact on others. Be careful now.’ It’s not asking us to be fearful, but careful. Full of care for those around us as we know that small touches from us on those people will have a larger impact than others. Being praised or trusted puts the responsibility on your shoulders. It’s telling you that you’re in a different phase of your life now and that something else, beyond your youthful carelessness, is asked for. When someone praises you or trusts you, you should feel the weight of it on you and how it asks you to be stronger. It’s not a badge for you to proudly display – it’s a sort of unasked for

It’s not a badge for you to proudly display – it’s a sort of unasked for thing that you carry with you as you go.

If you do carry it well, you are fulfilling the unspoken promise you’ve made to them. You’re fulfilling the agreement.

If you carry it masterfully, if you consistently under-promise and over-deliver, you will never want for business.

 

 

The Power of Sticking Around Long Enough

patience1-1It’s happened a number of times to me now.

I meet someone or some across a business which provides a product or service that I see as needed and that I might want to recommend.

And then they go out of business. Or they stop doing that thing.

And it’s often before I’ve really had the chance to get to know them or had much occasion to spread the word about them. It’s frustrating because I love knowing who to send people to if I can’t help them.

I’d be speaking with someone and say, “Oh yeah. John does that kind of work. He’s great.”

And then someone would overhear me and say, “Oh. John stopped doing that a few months ago. Now he’s onto this other thing.”

Niche switching is a natural thing to do. It happens all the time. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s often exactly what you need to do.

But it takes a while for a reputation to be made. It just takes time and most people quick or change direction before they get there. They’re digging a well and, a foot before they hit water, discouraged, they stop digging there and start digging somewhere else and so they never reach the life replenishing stream under the ground.

In business, those waters are the natural flow of word of mouth that sends you business without you even lifting a finger. It’s the power of becoming a hub, becoming a trusted advisor, expert or ‘go to person’ in any particular arena. That does the marketing for you. If you stick around long enough, hustle while you do it and connect with other hubs in a good way, without three years, everyone knows who you are and what you’re about.

If you work on the issue of trauma for three years in a community and do your best to get the word out there, keep at it.

If you do a unique kind of yoga, have a niched permaculture business, have a business based on a particular target market, or based on a particular thing you’re offering, if you have anything even close to resembling a niche, you do a great job and you stick around long enough in business, you will develop a reputation as someone to go to for particular issues or for particular things. Just by having stuck it out long enough you will have a name in town for doing things. Most people give up on this too soon.

But it takes time.

Most entrepreneurs don’t stick around long enough to really get known for anything.

Most entrepreneurs do not persist and play the long game.

five steps to get more (and better) clients – (14 minute video)

A few weeks ago, I realized how I take almost every client I work with through the same series of five steps. If you want more (and better) clients, you will have to, at some point, engage all five of these things. The bad news is that they’re not easy. The good news is that they’re really simple.

And they all start with knowing who is a perfect fit for you – who your niche is. 

what to call yourself

My dear colleague in the UK Corrina Gordon-Barnes (pictured right) just wrote a brilliant, brilliant blog post about the whole question of ‘what to call yourself’.

It’s a vital issue because what you choose to call yourself will have a direct impact on how memorable it is or isn’t and how easy it is to tell their friends about you. If word of mouth is the primary engine of marketing (and it is) then what you call yourself and how easy it is for others to remember and share matters profoundly.

If you do something with a funny name (e.g. permaculture, theta healing, appreciative inquiry, non violent communication, ‘the work’ etc.) you’ve no doubt noticed the glazed look people get on their faces when you try to tell them what you do. And you might also just not dig the generic title people in your industry use (even though it is clear). Perhaps you’ve been calling yourself a life coach, counsellor, dance teacher etc. but none of that really feels right or exciting.

So, what do you do?

You read this wonderful piece by my friend Corrina Gordon-Barnes.

To read her article click here.

seven reasons why to write a book

This is an odd post to write given that I have no immediate plans to write a book.

But there are a lot of good reasons to write one.

Here are two reasons not to write a book.

1) To make money.

2) To become famous.

The publishing industry has changed so much in the past decades. The idea of being discovered and given a huge upfront payment of money to write the book and then make millions off the sales of the book are . . . unlikely. Even for authors who sell a lot of books, it’s far from the fame producing, lucrative strategy it might seem.

Realistically, for most people, it’s going to take time to become known as an author – and to make a living at it. My colleague Dan Blank has a lot of good things to say about the basics of this platform building process for authors here.

But still, there are plenty of good reasons to write a book.

Here’s my take on seven good reasons to consider.

REASON #1: You love writing. This is the most important reason. You love to write. You love the written word. You love to express yourself. You find yourself writing a lot anyway. You already do it even though no one is paying you.

REASON #2: To clarify your point of view. I think this is profoundly important and so often missed in marketing. Yes, you need to understand who you’re trying to reach, the problems they face and they results they crave most. That’s the heart of marketing. But you also need to be clear with people about your take on the process or system or series of steps that can get people from where they are to where they want to be. You need to be a map maker.

Most of us have an intuitive sense of our approach to the problems our clients face. But few of us have really taken the time to sit back and reflect on it and spell it out. People aren’t buying your product or service half as much as they’re buying into your point of view. Don’t wait to write your book until your clear – writing your book can be the process that helps you get clear.

And getting clearer about your point of you will make you far more effective in what you do. Clarity is attractive.

REASON #3: Stories are so compelling. My colleague Michael Margolis has spent years trying to advocate for the idea (point of view) that story telling is the currency of marketing. And I think he’s right. Not only will a book express your perspective, but, if done well, it will do it through stories and case studies.

REASON #4: Your book is a sales letter. An extension of the above reasons – your book is like a long, long sales letter to your clients. Do you think Eckhart Tolle would get a fraction of the people he currently does to his seminars if he’d not written those books? Your books give people a way to get to know you, safely, at a distance and decide whether or not it’s a fit to work with you.

REASON #5: Being an author makes you an authority. Culturally, we respond very differently to someone if their name is followed by ” . . . author of _____.” Simply the fact that you have written a book gives you an enormous degree of credibility that you can use to command higher speaking fees and workshop rates. People might even ask for your autograph and stuff.

REASON #6: Word of mouth. Books can help with word of mouth. Think of all the books you’ve passed onto friends that you thought they’d love or that might help them. Plus, if you decide you write your book via your blog and publish it in bits like that – you can start building your following long before the book ever comes out. And simply writing a book is a buzzworthy event. You might get local media coverage. It’s a wonderful chance to reach out to your list.

REASON #7: Deepen your connection with your tribe. Forget getting new people. Many of your existing community will read your book and that will help them ‘get you’ at a deeper level. They’ll appreciate you more.

designing for generosity

A dear colleague of mine – Nippun Mehta – did a TEDx talk on the theme of “Designing for Generosity“. That I had to share with you.

Capitalism seems to be based on the idea that we’re selfish.

And there’s truth to this.

We do everything we do to meet our needs. But it’s so easy to forget that some of our deepest needs are for connection, community and contribution. So, what if we designed things with that in mind? What if our businesses gave people not only ways to consume more but also created spaces to contribute and connect?

Simon Sinek speaks to this so brilliantly in his book Start With Why – that marketing tricks and tactics might create sales – but they won’t create loyalty.

What creates loyalty? It’s less about what we do and how we do it and more about ‘why’ we do it. People come together around a shared ‘why’. This is what brings communities and teams most deeply together – sharing a deeper and more transcendent purpose.

As we weave this into our business – and give our communities ways to contribute we then also deepen our connection to them.

Nippun gives some wonderful examples of pay what you can pricing models in business. What most people never consider with PWYC pricing models is the word of mouth potential of them – how people will not only talk about what you do – but how you charge for it.

If you’re committed to staying true to your politics, remaining accessible to the people who need you most but also to sustaining yourself – I think you’ll really love this video.

Here’s a blurb from the Karmatube description:

What would the world look like if we designed for generosity? Instead of assuming that people want to simply maximize self-interest, what if our institutions and organizations catered to our deeper motivations? This compelling TEDx talk explores this question and introduces the concept of Giftivism: the practice of radically generous acts that change the world. The video is charged with stories of such acts, ranging from: the largest peaceful transfer of land in human history, to a pay-it-forward restaurant, to a 10-year-old’s unconventional birthday celebration, and the stunning interaction between a victim and his teenage mugger. With clarity and insight, it details the common threads that run through all these gift manifestations, and invites us to participate through everyday acts of kindness — in an uplifting global movement.

You can watch it below.

 

music is a weapon

Ton! Cade Bambara once said that, ‘the goal of the revolutionary artist is to make the revolution irresistible.’

And that makes me think of Lucas Coffey (pictured below).

With whom I just had a super interesting meeting about his project Music is a Weapon.

There were a lot of ideas and lessons that came up which I thought might be useful for you in your work.

One of the main things that Music is a Weapon does is bike powered parties. The target market we explored was working with music festivals

So the music festival would bring them in and they would power one of the music stages through pedaling on bikes hooked up to a generator.

The question is: how does he get these festivals to hire him?

Let’s remember that his bike powered thing is his boat. Meaning it’s what he offers to them to get them from Island A (their problems) to Island B (to the results they want). His bike powered parties is what he’s proposing will help them on their journey.

So, what is the journey these festival owners are on?

Well . . . imagine you run a music festival. You’ve got all the logistics of it, choosing the acts, managing volunteers . . . etc. And then, on top of actually running the festival you’ve got to get people there. You’ve got to market it. Shit.

The only reason a festival organizer is going to care about Lucas’ boat is if it can help them out with their life and help solve their problems. Period.

The implications on Lucas’ marketing are obvious: he needs to show that by bringing in his bike powered parties he can help them make more money, build their email list, get more people to the festival, get more buzz and word of mouth and help them deepen their relationship to their people.

If he can make that case, they’ll hire him. If he can’t, they won’t. It’s just that simple.

Most conscious business rely on their ‘values proposition’ or, as we’ve discussed recently, their bigger why. Basically, the marketing pitch becomes, ‘hire me because it’s the right thing to do’. And only the most hardcore conscious people will do this. 80% of our offering really need to be the ‘value proposition’ where we make the case on the return on investment.  If you can offer both a solid values proposition and a solid value proposition it’s hard to fail.

So, if Lucas goes to them and says, ‘hire me because we’re all about sustainable energy and community engagement and fun!’ he won’t get as far as if he says, ‘Bring us in and we’ll help make more money, build your email list, get more people to your festival, get more buzz and word of mouth and help you deepen your relationship to your people . . . plus! It aligns with your community and green values.’

But it’s not enough to make that kind of a claim. They need to trust that you can deliver on that. He needs to become, ultimately a ‘trusted advisor‘.

Part of building trust come to some basic boat redesign. It’s not enough to understand the goals of your client and what Island B is for them. You need to actively consider how you can get them there. And sometimes that means some going back into your business and reimagining things. Innovating. Making our business better and more useful for the client.

So, Lucas and I got to talking about that . . . We realized that he’s actually in a perfect position to help them achieve their goals.

What he does is so fun and unusual that people will go home and talk about it which brings up the music festival in conversation. And what promoter wouldn’t want their festival being talked about more?

They are excellent at getting people to actually ride the bikes but maybe they could communicate ‘the seven charming tactics we use to get people on the bikes’. That might help the promoter feel more confident it would work. He could also get lots of testimonials from other promoters speaking about how well it worked. So he could do more to maximize what’s already working.

But we realized that there were additional innovations that could be brought in which might just excite the festival organizers.

They could ‘theme’ their bikes by decade. Have a 20’s bike, a 30’s bike, 60’s bike etc. And with each bike they could have some period costume pieces that people could wear while they pose for a sweet photo.

Imagine how this might work . . .

You show up at a festival and set up your gear. It’s a beautiful sunny day and you’re just so happy to be out of the city. You look over the program and list of musicians and DJ’s who’ll be playing and smile. It’s your first time at the festival, so you decide to go for a wander and explore the fair grounds.

You see the usual food vendors, some crafts and clothing vendors but then you see something you’ve never seen before. Ten bikes stationary  bikes. With people riding them. And many of them are wearing funny hats and clothes.

You have to check this out.

As you get closer, the person running that area – whatever it is – charmingly engages you in conversation (even though you tend to be a bit shy). He explains that the bikes are hooked up to a generator and that all these people’s exercise is powering the stage beside them. He invites you to ride.

You’re hesitant but then a lady dressed in flapper hat and gloves hops off the bike and hands you her hat. ‘You have to try it!’ You find yourself sitting on this 1920’s old timey bike, wearing a hat, gloves and other period accoutrements, peddling. And having a lot of fun meeting the people on the bikes on either side of you.

One of the people working there asks if he can take a photo of you. Of course, you say yes. This will make a sweet photo. If it’s good you might make it your new profile photo. After he takes the picture of you (you check it and it’s super great) he gives you a card with the website for this group Music Is A Weapon and also a link to the festival’s facebook page. ‘We’ll be uploading your photo to this page later tonight. And we’re having a contest too. Whoever can get the most people to ‘like’ their photo on facebook wins two free tickets to the festival next year plus some other prizes you can use right away. It’s worth about $300. The details are on the card there.’ You slip the card in your pocket. Nice.

You hop off the bike and encourage a hesitant onlooker to give it a try. They smile. They’re shy like you and happy to meet someone friendly. On your way out, a volunteer asks you if you’d like to be on the email list for the festival. “You’ll get maybe one email a month for the festival fundraisers we do which are always super fun and a great chance to reconnect with people you meet here. You’ll also get advance notice on early bird prices for tickets.” You sign up (you can always unsubscribe if it’s too much later).

A girl standing beside him then charms you into buying $10 in raffle tickets. “They’re for the new stage. We just need $2000 more and we can do it!” How can you say no?

You wave goodbye and walk off with a new friend who was on the 1950’s bike beside you.

In this little story, from your perspective, you’ve made a new friend, done something fun you’ll talk about when you’re home and gotten a sweet new photo.

Imagine this same story from the festival organizers point of view.

You are stressed. But excited. And you’re relaxing quickly as the sun melts the tension out of your body. You’re here. A year of work has paid off. People are arriving. The bands are playing. All the hassles were worth it. But you can’t help mentally tallying people as they arrive. Are you going to make enough money this year? Will you get enough people?

You took a risk and brought in a new thing to your festival – a bike powered stage. It cost you a bit of money but people seem to be loving it and having fun. There seems to be a lot of buzz about it. By the end of the festival, you’re glad you brought them in. It added something fun and different to the festival.

And then you’re approached by the fellow who was running it. You small talk a bit about the festival and then he hands up a clip board and explains that, over the weekend, he’s added 327 people to your email list. He tells you that a lot of photos were taken and that they’re already posted in an album online with links back to your page. ‘You should expect to add a few hundred people to your fan page and to start following you on twitter too.’

You’d forgotten about this. This is amazing. You always forget to ask for people’s emails and you’re basically social media illiterate. Thank god someone’s on top of this.

‘Oh! And your raffle ticket volunteers were amazing. They sold a lot of tickets at our bikes.’

You will definitely be bringing them back next year.

It’s not about the boat.

It’s not about the bikes.

It’s about Island B.

Don’t just talk about your values – add real value. Make people’s lives easier. They’ll thank you with their business.