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To Erase Harmful Costs, Provide Hands-On Experiences Before Offerings Are Sold

Feb 26, 2008
Hands-on experiences benefit stakeholders and organizations. The experiences allow potential beneficiaries, customers, and users to see if the offering is right for them.

While such experiences may drive away some who are mismatched, those for whom the offering is a good fit will be encouraged to act. In addition, during the hands-on experiences, you can observe any habits or misunderstandings that could lead to later accidents. You can alert the person to the risk before they use the offering on their own. Further, you can simulate accident conditions, as the airlines do for their pilots, to help prepare the beneficiary, customer, or user to avoid accidents. Finally, you can discuss with people what their reactions to the experiences are and help them to adopt better ways of preparing for future risks.

Many people who provide inexpensive or free offerings will shudder at this suggestion. How can they possibly afford to provide such hands-on experiences? There's always a way. You just have to look for it.

Start by considering the roles that volunteers can play. Many organizations with public purposes are interested in promoting greater health and safety. If your offering normally has a positive purpose that is undermined only through misunderstandings or misuse, you may well find that existing organizations are interested in adding relevant training for your beneficiaries, customers, and users.

Here's an example: A new type of defibrillator may make it possible for those with limited medical knowledge to save lives. Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) determine what level of electric shock is required to help the struggling heart beat normally. No longer do you have to know how to interpret the heart's patterns before using such a defibrillator.

Since AEDs were developed, the Red Cross stepped in to provide training programs for AEDs on the job and other public places. Such training helps the manufacturers to sell these items, and we can probably assume that the manufacturers assisted the Red Cross in designing its training.

From there, think about having beneficiaries, customers, and users receive some of this training at public expense. If the purpose is one that benefits all of society, the community may pick up some or all of the tab. In some communities, for instance, part of the driver's education training is provided as part of the high school program. Typically, families are expected to pay for at least the behind-the-wheel training.

Driver's education courses taken in high schools also provide another model: Ask beneficiaries, customers, and users to pay some of the cost of providing the experience. Although this may seem like a way to drive your audience away, the result can instead be an accelerator that makes these prior experiences more valuable and enjoyable.

Here's an example: Everyone who buys a sports car wants to take it out for a spin before purchasing. Provide enough test drives, and you've given away more value in free joyrides than you gained in selling expensive cars.

Rent a local race track and provide racing instruction for those who want to pay for the experience, and you'll soon have lots more people who know how to safely travel at high speeds in your sports cars. Once they've gotten the bug and know how to do it, these drivers are more likely to buy . . . and be safer drivers.

Don't forget to consider if beneficiaries, customers, and users want to help each other gain the relevant experience. How can you provide incentives for that to occur?

For instance, many people learn subjects better if they teach someone else. But someone who is a new learner will be reluctant to take on the teaching role without materials that provide easy-to-follow steps for instructors and learners.

What if you don't have the resources to create such materials? You can lower the cost dramatically by sponsoring a competition. By substituting recognition for compensation in appealing to developers, you will probably end up with better materials and plenty of positive publicity that will encourage people to use the materials.
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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