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Green Eggs and Messaging

How many times do we need to put our message out there to be effective? Marketing expert Roy Williams (here’s his blog) recounts being told by a friend: I’m sending you the best book ever written on selling. Williams couldn’t wait, and when the FedEx package arrived, he told his assistant he was taking the afternoon to read. He then tells of his anger and disbelief when he found a copy of Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham.

At first he thought his friend was a practical joker. But when he sat and read the book, he realized his friend was, in fact, a genius, and Sam-I-Am is a great salesperson as he tries to get his “customer” to eat green eggs and ham: “Would you eat them in a box? Would you eat them with a fox? Would you? Could you in a car? Eat them! Eat them! Here they are!” The average sale comes after only five asks, says Williams, while Sam-I-Am asks his customer try his product at least sixteen.

In the end the customer enthusiastically proclaims, “I do like green eggs and ham. Thank you! Thank you, Sam-I-Am.”

Here’s an assignment: Imagine Sam-I-Am working for your cause — telling the rest of us that everyone can have access to clean water, learn to read, become self reliant, be treated with dignity. Whatever your cause, imagine Sam-I-Am telling the world there is something specific we can do. Something as specific as try them!

But if we behave like Sam-I-Am, will we be obnoxious? Will it be counter productive? First, you probably don’t have a treasure chest of gold to pay to get your message to everyone in the world 16 times. So how can you creatively, and not too obnoxiously get your message to the right people 16 times? Asking them to do a specific action that’s not too hard?

See also a previous post on social marketing.

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