Saturday, June 6, 2015

Sandal Success: What a Real Guru's Shoe Taught us about Targeting

I met a former employee who had gone on to succeed in the New Age business. She credited her success to a lesson she once learned from me.

I called it the “Guru’s Shoe.” It explained how a cult leader was able to build his following and attract donations by identifying his true prospective believers. 

It’s a lesson every entrepreneur should learn. Ditto: artists, writers and all salespeople.

The guru did this by having his devotees hold elaborate initiation ceremonies. At the end, the head initiator would say, "the Guru couldn’t make it today but if you would like to connect with his spirit you may kiss one of his sandals.” 

Most people were reluctant to do this and just walked away. The few who did were whisked away to a special meeting where they we elevated to higher level of welcome and identified as true supporters of the Guru’s mission. At least, that was my understanding of the lesson - that, and the fact that having only to provide a left sandal probably meant they could be bought at less than half the price of a full pair. 

However, it turns out that my one-time employee benefitted because she saw it completely differently.

“The power," she said, "is in the guru’s feet. That’s what the sandals are all about!”

That's she’s big in the New Age biz while I most assuredly am not - my cynicism was her catalyst to fame and fortune.

You take off when your beliefs match your marketplace - and you identify the people who get your story.

It is also how cross-pollination in entrepreneurship works.