In the 1930's some studies were held at the Western Electric production facility outside Chicago in a place called Hawthorne. The intent of the study was simple enough: invite a handful of employees to participate in various working condition tests to determine which conditions were most conducive to increased production. Those conditions that "tested" best were then to be rolled out to the general production floor. One of things they tested was brighter lights. Production went up. Then they tested dimmer lights. Production went up. In fact, no matter what they tested, production went up!
Dr. Paul Marsden, from the London School of Economics, brought my attention to the study and the results which have come to be known as the "Hawthorne Effect." He explains it like this in the preview chapter of his book Connected Marketing:
By singling out a small group of employees to participate in an exclusive trial, participants felt valued, special and important. The special attention they received gratified their ego and created a positive emotional bond with what they were trialing. The practical upshot was that the research trials effectively transformed the research participants into advocates for whatever it was they were trialing.
What does the Hawthorne Effect have to do with growing your business? Creating advocates, or promoters, or evangelists is the first step to harnessing the power of word-of-mouth marketing. The researchers at Hawthorne created advocates by singling out a small, exclusive group, giving them special attention, and asking for their opinion. It is possible to do the same with your product or service.
Case in point: text book publishers. Whether they know it or not, text book publishers have been using the Hawthorne Effect to sell more text books for years. The smart publishers pro-actively select instructors with large adoptions and stellar reputations to review forthcoming text books. Sure, they get good feedback to improve the text, but they also realize that professors that review texts are much more likely to adopt them. I know this because I worked with a unique company called Content Connections that helps publishers do exactly that. Content Connections has developed online tools and processes that facilitate the review process and helps authors and publishers harness the power of the Hawthorne Effect.
Put the power of the Hawthorne Effect to work for your business today. Choose some customers, make them feel special, and ask for their feedback on new products or services. Not only will you get good feedback, you'll get advocates and all those they go on to tell.
Need some help? Contact us at Zeryn.