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Newsletter #838: The “Lessons in Customer Behavior” 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.]

When you figure out how to motivate or change the behavior of your fans and customers, you can create amazing word of mouth and drive sales. A few examples of how you could do it:

1. Give your best customers a prize
2. Support what they’re already doing
3. Use carrots to move sticks
4. Check it out: Dear Photograph

1. Give your best customers a prize

If your business is filled with warning signs and policies aimed at punishing the few bad customers, what you’re really doing is annoying all the great ones. Instead, use that energy to highlight your best customers and to motivate others to act like them. Check out the “Speed Camera Lottery” experiment for an idea of the potential of this. Where most traffic cameras are created to punish rebel motorists, this one in Stockholm, Sweden pooled all speeding fines and then awarded the prize to a random speed limit-respecting driver. During a three-day pilot of the program, average speeds on a multi-lane street dropped from 32 to 25 kilometers per hour.

The lesson: Creating systems that focus on punishing your bad customers is the lazy and less effective way to do business. Instead, reward and promote the customers you want everyone to act like.

Learn more: Infrastructurist

2. Support what they’re already doing

Look for a habit, behavior, or hobby customers already do and see if there’s a natural way to fit it into your business. Take camping, for example. If you’ve got the extra space, why not let people do it on store property? It sounds bizarre — until you realize that for years Walmart has invited R.V.’s to park overnight in their parking lots. So much so, that with all the campers that use their parking lots each night, Walmart is estimated to be the largest R.V. campground in the country. That’s a lot of customers they get to keep on their doorstep, just by offering them the convenience of an open parking spot out in the lot.

The lesson: Motivation isn’t always about trying to change behavior — sometimes it’s more efficient to align yourself with existing trends.

Learn more: New York Times

3. Use carrots to move sticks

To activate your fan base, sometimes it just takes a little incentive and the opportunity to help their communities. You see, most companies help charities by cutting a check. And that’s all well and fine, unless you really want to create word of mouth and make an immediate impact. That’s why Molson’s Canadian Red Leaf project is so impressive. They’re recruiting volunteers to help clean up local parks across Canada. In exchange, the volunteers get tickets to music festivals in the same region as the parks they help clean. It all adds up to some clean parks, great concerts for fans, and a lot of PR and buzz for Molson.

The lesson: To get fans moving, try setting clear goals, defining your cause, and throwing in a few nice incentives.

Learn more: Red Leaf Project

4. Dear Photograph

Dear Photograph offers a fantastic collection of classic photos perfectly positioned and re-taken in their modern-day setting.

Learn more: Dear Photograph

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