A primary purpose of this blog is collect and share ideas that provide supportive evidence and examples of how great business can be as simple as returning to older, tried, and fundamentally important ways of doing business. Hence the title of this blog “By Hand”.
This post is about how a city government used shame, a fundamentally powerful and effective force for influencing our behavior, to get people to obey laws and act more safely. Peer pressure still works long after junior high school! I came across the story while listening to a June 21, 2012 Freakonomics podcast, and a synopsis of the story is as follows…
In Bogota, Colombia, the capital city’s mayor at the time, Antanas Mockus, hired mimes to essentially make fun of citizens who were walking or driving unsafely in city streets. A pedestrian running across the road would be tracked by a mime who mocked his every move. Mimes also poked fun at reckless drivers. By publicly drawing attention to the citizens as they drove or walked unsafely, the Mayor’s brilliant idea was to use peer pressure and our natural desire for social conformity to cause these unlawful citizens to feel shame and change their behavior. The city government did not hand out traffic tickets with financial penalties to these jaywalkers or unsafe drivers; rather it used shame prompt behavior change. As a result, the citizens learned lessons learned by their heart instead of the wallet; and the rate of traffic accidents in Bogota were greatly reduced!
According to a BoingBoing.net article, initially 20 professional mimes shadowed pedestrians who didn’t follow crossing rules, but the program was so popular that another 400 people were trained as mimes.
I really liked Rob Fuggetta’s article on generating brand advocates, the pursuit of which I think should be at the core of almost every business and marketing strategy. I agree with all five things Fuggetta says a company needs to do to create them:
- Provide an “insanely great product.”: This was one of Steve Jobs’s famous statements. Very few people go out of their way to advocate mediocre products or services. Advocacy starts with having a product or service people are eager to recommend.
- Deliver memorable service: In an era when so many products and services are similar, service is the great differentiator. Nordstrom, Zappo’s, and Four Seasons hotels are examples of companies that created legions of advocates by providing extraordinary service.
- Focus on good profits: As loyalty guru Fred Reichheld has stated, there’s a difference between good profits and bad profits. Bad profits include earnings from price gouging, cutbacks on customer service, and hidden charges.
- Do the right thing, even when it costs you money: It’s easy for companies to do the right thing when it doesn’t cost extra. But when doing the right thing costs companies money, many firms take the low road. For example, if allowing a customer to return a lemon costs you money, do it anyway. Much better to do this than create a Detractor. If your company has screwed up, admit your mistake and fix it as fast as possible. In the social media age, a handful of disgruntled customers can harm your company or brand’s cherished reputation.
- Have a social conscience or get one fast: People are more likely to recommend companies and brands that have a social conscience. When it was revealed that Nike was paying low wages to workers, its advocates abandoned the brand. Take a social stand on issues or give back to your communities. Brands like The Body Shop earn advocacy in these ways.