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Newsletter #1060: The “Like They Own the Place” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

Every once in awhile, you find customers who want more than to just buy your stuff and go home. Sometimes, they want to feel a stronger connection to your business — they want to feel like they’re a part of it and play a role in your success. And if you don’t have customers like that, there are ways to encourage that sense of ownership and give them permission to love you even more.

Here are three ways to do it:

1. Let them close the place
2. Let them name the place
3. Let them design the place
4. Check it out: Gifprint

1. Let them close the place

In this blog post, three friends chronicle their journey of opening and closing a bar in Milwaukee called Wolski’s. They showed up before the place opened at noon, and stayed until closing time at 2:00 AM. Apparently, it’s a rite of passage for people in the area to get a bumper sticker that says “I Closed Wolski’s,” and these stickers have been spotted by locals all over the world. Some even said it makes them feel like a part of a special group. And when these students stayed from open to close, they came away with a bunch of photos, bragging rights, and a T-shirt.

The lesson: Like the food competitions or wall of fames at other restaurants, closing Wolski’s is some crazy experience that people will take pride in and talk about forever. And all Wolski’s has to do is let people stay there all day and give them something to remember it by.

Learn more: Milwaukee Record

2. Let them name the place

One small business owner in Connecticut asked the city to help him name his new Tex-Mex restaurant that he plans to open in a year. He’s collecting the submissions through an email address, and whoever comes up with the best name wins lunch at the restaurant each week for a year.

The lesson: That’s a great way to get the community excited and involved in the company before it even opens.

Learn more: Trumbull Times

3. Let them design the place

In Seattle, each neighborhood has been given permission by the city to paint and decorate their crosswalks to reflect their individual communities. It started when some communities took the initiative in the first place, and instead of painting over the new crosswalks, the city set some common sense guidelines and made them official. The results: rainbows, colorful reflective paint, and colors from the Pan-African flag. Now, each crosswalk is a unique attraction and photo op for Seattle tourists.

The lesson: Pay attention to the ways your customers are already embracing and taking ownership of your business. Then, embrace them back.

Learn more: GOOD

4. Check it out: Gifprint

This site lets you turn a gif into a real-life, printed flip book. It converts the gif frame by frame into a PDF you can print, cut, and assemble yourself.

Check it out: Gifprint

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  1. Sarah October 29, 2015 at 4:56 pm #

    Thanks for the food for thought! I have a boutique nursery linen brand, and I am thinking I might run a competition for customers to design a print for our next line of bedding? Which they can then see on a fabric!

  2. Alex V October 30, 2015 at 4:36 pm #

    This is awesome, Andy. The examples are perfect. Thank you for sharing! – A

  3. Fred November 3, 2015 at 5:53 pm #

    I totally love the second idea. As long as the community doesn’t pick a silly name, that is! I can’t wait to see what they end up naming it.

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