I work for a national coffee provider that shall remain nameless (think celestial bodies and male deer!). It’s fun and you can’t beat the free coffee. Today stands out because of an unusual encounter.
My strengths are connecting with customers which is why I usually am stationed at a register. Today, I was stationed at the drive-through register, taking orders, money and handing out the drinks.
This afternoon, a gentleman drove up to the window. I greeted him properly as he started asking questions about the frozen cappuccinos. I explained the drinks and suggested he try a chocolate coffee one. He said that sounded good and I asked him to drive to the window. When he arrived, I opened the window to take his money. As he handed me the money, he said I had a good attitude. (True!). Then he said ….
“I’m an author and I write books about the afterlife,” he said. “Let me ask you, what do you think happens when you die?”
I thought this was rather a novel approach to Amway.
I told him that I had trouble believing there was a heaven. He suggested that I didn’t believe in God. I quickly told him that I was not an atheist, just that I had unanswered questions. He immediately turned to his back seat and lifted a few books. He asked my name and told me his story.
His name is Mark Cahill. He has written two books. The first was a Christian book called The One Thing You Can’t Do in Heaven. His second book is One Heartbeat Away. The subtitle is Your Journey Into Eternity. He began autographing a book and then asked me how many were working today. When I told him five, he pulled out more books. He asked if they all felt the way I did. That was certainly not the case. Most of my colleagues are God abiding Christians. We do, after all, live in the Bible Belt.
I don’t know where Mr. Cahill had been but he gave me the impression that he was always peddling his books. Perhaps he had a presentation or book signing at a church or maybe he was on his way to a den of atheists to change some minds. I admired his ability to strike up a conversation. He had a great “elevator speech” — an explanation of who he was and what he did. It also included a couple of sentences about how he could help me. These are all the necessary ingredients of marketing.
He gave me five books. Then he said that he knew times were tough and he gave me $100 so I could give each partner $20! I’m not kidding. He gave us a $100 tip! No one else believed it until I showed them the money!
Now, Mr. Cahill was getting into Pyro Marketing territory. He was creating a buzz.The concept conceived by Greg Stielstra says marketing is like a fire that you stoke with word of mouth testimonials and ground up concepts that create a buzz that eventually — and positively — gets on many people’s radar. To co-op religious terminology, Cahill is trying to create evangelists who will tell others and so on and so forth until there is a real buzz about his books.
Every partner in that store was excited to read the book they gave him. He was creating believers in his product. He was fanning the flames by allowing each of us to experience his product. In turn, we become advocates for the book to our friends and aquaintances. I like the approach very much.
This is exactly the same marketing plan that launched The Purpose Driven Life by Pastor Rick Warren. In fact Stielstra was the lead marketing exec on that book. They made the book relevant by finding the perfect audience (Christians who go to church) geve them books and then gave them additional tools to study the book. Of course, the book has to be good.
Mr. Cahill is following a great plan. I’m grateful to Mr. Cahill and I will read his book.