But first, I want to tell you a story.
The date was February 19, 1942.
It was the dawn of a dark, cold winter morning when, at exactly 5h30 am, air raid sirens split the sleeping silence and 3500 German troops in armored\ convoys invaded the city.
People were arrested.
Churches and schools were boarded up.
The local newspaper even published an article about the coup – in German.here
By 9:30 am, to the horror of those who could only stand and watch the drama unfold, the city of Winnipeg surrendered to the occupation and the German swastika was raised over City Hall.
True? Sort of?
Can any of this can help you stop playing the price game and get paid what you’re worth?
Absolutely, yes. And let me tell you how…
A Terrifying Truth
The invasion that I just described was an incredibly innovative and stunningly strategic military simulation staged by the Canadian city of Winnipeg during the second world war. And it is yet another perfect example how innovative customer experiences (or Unexpected EncountersTM) can drive more customers, more revenue and more growth in your business.
The experience, called ‘If Day‘
was part of an elaborate 3-week campaign designed to promote the sale of Victory Bonds. The fundraising efforts were split between 45 regions in the province of Manitoba, each one tasked with reaching the seemingly unattainable goal of one million dollars in one day.
Prior to the invasion, Victory Bonds were not generating nearly the amount of revenue needed to keep the war efforts afloat.
And the terrifying truth was that if they couldn’t influence enough people to purchase enough Victory bonds, it was very possible that one day Winnipeg might well be taken over by the Germans.
Still the bonds didn’t sell and the reason seemed to be that many Canadians simply didn’t feel affected by the war. They saw it as something that was happening to other people in other places and therefore the value of investing in Liberty Bonds escaped them.
However, the city of Winnipeg believed that if they could just bring the reality of the war into people’s homes and daily lives…
If they could just design an experience that would demonstrate what terrible things might happen if the Germans actually took over the city…
Then they could convince residents of both the incredible value and the urgent necessity of investing in the bonds.
And If Day was born.
I admit that when I first read about this story I was shocked. Who would do that? Who could possibly justify terrifying an entire city to raise money for the war effort? (Residents were warned of the coming invasion but in the end, many of them were still completely taken by surprise.)
But terrifying or not, If Day raised $3.2 million dollars for the war effort in one day, exceeding the sales target by a whopping 220%.
Which means that although ‘If Day’ may have been a rather unsettling experience, it was also an enormous success. I mean, wouldn’t you love your revenue to exceed projections by 220%? (100%? Do I hear 50%? 30%? Sold!)
However, to drive results like that not only do you need more customers to buy more of your products and services more often. You need them to buy those products and services more often at the right price. Right? A price that not only fairly represents the true value of your offerings but that allows you to protect both your margins and your profits.
And as you and I both know, that can be easier said than done. Because although I know that you work hard to develop high-quality products and services for your customers, here is your terrifying truth..
Whether it’s driving sales from new customers or increasing revenue from existing customers, you need a strategy that help you stop playing the price game and start demonstrating value in a way that justifies both purchase and price.
Show Me The Money
For those who might not remember, the line Show me the Money was made famous in the 1996 movie Jerry Macguire.
In the movie Rod Tidwell, played by Cuba Gooding Jr, is a struggling football player determined to get the celebrity status he deserves. Jerry Macguire, played by Tom Cruise, is a down and out sports agent desperate to keep Rod – his one and only remaining client – from leaving Jerry and going to the competition.
To keep Rod happy, Jerry is constantly making grand promises. However, Rod is only interested in results, and in response to each of Jerry’s grand plans, Rod simply responds, Show me the money.
Today, people use the phrase when they want proof that something is of value or worth the asking price. And if you think about it, isn’t that exactly what our customers are really asking us?
Our customers want us to show them the money… not only to demonstrate the value of our products and services but to differentiate the value of those products and services from those of our competition.
Simply put, our customers want us to prove that our products and services are worth the asking price.
When we work with our clients to create innovative customer experiences for their businesses, we use a variety of techniques to ensure that the Unexpected Encounters™ we design are strategically aligned with the business outcomes that our client wishes to achieve.
‘If Day’ is a great example of a technique that we call Show me the Money – the perfect Unexpected EncounterTM strategy when our client’s objective is to demonstrate the value of their products and services to their customers in a way that differentiates them from their competition and justifies the investment that they are asking their customers to make. (Sound familiar?)
In the case of If Day, the customers were the residents of Winnipeg, the value of the purchase was preserving their freedom and the price that they were being asked to pay – a price that they had previously been unwilling to pay – was the purchase of Victory Bonds.
Fill in the blanks with your customers, your products and your services and you can use Show me the Money to create innovative customer experiences that will help you stop playing the price game and start demonstrating value in a way that justifies both purchase and price.
There are 4 different strategies for creating a Show Me the Money experience.
Strategy #1 – Dramatically Demonstrate the Consequences of Inaction
These types of experiences use the fear factor to create a sense of vulnerability that drives the desired behaviour. For example, in the case of ‘If Day’, the experience (the invasion) demonstrated the very clear and equally probable consequences of inaction (the loss of freedom) in such a dramatic way that the customers (the residents of Winnipeg) were influenced to engage in the desired strategic behaviour – (the purchase of the bonds).
In fact, in the actual ‘If Day’ scenario, as each area of the city reached its quota of donations, that area was ‘freed from Nazi occupation’ – an outcome for the residents that made a seductive link between their engagement in the desired behaviour and the removal of the consequences. Brilliant!
Another great example comes from a home security company in Germany – Schlüssel & Schloss who inserted a fake but very realistic looking crow bar between the front doors and door frames of neighbourhood homes to demonstrate how easy it would be for burglars to jimmy the locks. Like ‘If Day’, by dramatically demonstrating the consequences of inaction, this experience scared some sense into potential customers and drove a significant increase in requests for the company’s home security evaluations.
#2 – Dramatically Demonstrate the Benefits of your Products or Services.
There is no doubt that we live in a world where sound bites have been replaced by sight bites. (Pinterest anyone?) Therefore, creating a strong visual experience for the benefits of your products and services is a powerful way of reminding your customers why they should do or continue to do business with you.
The big benefit of Scotch brand invisible tape is that it is … well… invisible. That benefit was dramatically demonstrated by this innovative packaging which, with the help of an old magic trick, made the rolls of tape inside the box look … well… invisible. Talk about smoke and mirrors.
Swedish hair care brand Apotek placed digital billboards in subway stations featuring an attractive woman with long, beautiful hair. Whenever a train entered the station, the billboards reacted and the woman’s hair actually began Blowing in the Wind, creating a dramatic demonstration of the silky smooth benefits of Apotek products. (Bob Dylan would have been so proud!)
And this ambient marketing piece for Dulcolax proves that sometimes a simple demonstration is all that you need to get your message moving. (C’mon… that was funny.)
#3 – Dramatically Demonstrate the Pain or Problem that you solve.
These unique Show Me the Money customer experiences demonstrate not only that you understand and empathize with your customers’ pain, but that you above all others can help them alleviate that pain.
To increase the number of younger women attending their meetings, Weight Watchers equipped highly frequented fashion boutiques with innovative, custom-made curtains. The curtains were printed on both sides with the image of an attractive young woman with a healthy body shape. However, when the customer closed the curtain, the same woman suddenly became over-weight. The tagline on the curtain read Stop the Yo-Yo effect, identifying a painful and often constant struggle for so many weight-conscious young women.
The result? Some areas reported increases of up to 150% in the number of young women attending their meetings.
The Nothing food bank campaign brilliantly demonstrated the problem that they were trying to solve – hunger. Videos showed passers-by seated in front of plates with fancy domed plate covers. Greeted with the words ‘Today I’d like you to try something that many Rhode Islanders eat every day’, the covers were removed to reveal a completely empty plate underneath. The campaign generated $39,900 in donations and an additional $16,000 in cash that was collected in cans of Nothing and returned directly to the food bank. That’s a lot of return on nothing!
And in this next example, Cedar-Sinai Spine Center brilliantly demonstrates the agonizing reality of chronic back pain.
#4 – Dramatically Demonstrate the behaviour you want to encourage.
There’s nothing like showing people exactly what it is you want them to do. For example, when a municipality in Stockholm wanted to encourage interaction amongst visitors to their parks, they installed see-saw benches. The communication and ensuing balancing act that was required if anyone wanted to have a seat, dramatically demonstrated the desired behaviour that the experience was designed to encourage. Passers-by had so much fun watching that many of them stopped to have a turn – chatting away with their fellow park goers as they waited.
Denver Water has done an amazing job of influencing residents to only Use What You Need for many years. No guilt trips. No repercussions. They just simply demonstrated a metaphor for the behaviour they wanted and let everyone do their best. (And their best drove water consumption down by 20%.)
And as part of an anti-bullying campaign, #BeStrong created a powerful social experiment that dramatically demonstrated what the horrible things that people feel free to say to each other online would look like In Real Life. Actors carried out staged scenes where people repeated hateful comments that had been written by real people on real social media.
The experience was turned into a 60 second PSA video that asks the question: “If this behaviour is unacceptable in real life, why is it so normal online?”. As the video progresses, more and more passersby begin to speak out and stand up for those being so horribly bullied – which was exactly the behaviour that #BeStrong hoped to encourage when we witnessing online bullying.
Stage an Invasion for Your Customers
Do you want to stop playing the price game and get paid what you, your products and your services are worth?
Then it’s time to start staging some customer invasions. Invasions of innovative Show Me the Money experiences that will demonstrate the value of your products and services to your customers in a way that differentiates you from your competition and justifies the investment that you are asking your customers to make.
Experiences that prove that your products and services are worth the asking price.
Because just like Rod Tidwell and Jerry Maguire, your customers don’t want your grand promises.
They want you to Show Them the Money…
And I suggest that go and do just that!
Imagine the Possibilities!