A Gift from Nantucket UPS Store Builds Fanocracy

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

Case Studies  |  Fanocracy

UPS storeYesterday I needed to find a notary. On Nantucket Island. During the busiest month of the year at this popular summer vacation destination. Ugh. I dreaded the thought of traffic and dealing with the unpleasant task. However, my experience at the Nantucket UPS Store was a perfect illustration of one of the principles of fanocracy: I was given a gift with absolutely nothing expected in return.  

When I learned I needed the services of a notary on an unexpected document I needed to sign, I quickly determined the local UPS Store had notary services, so I headed over there. There was a line of four people in front of me and the owner of the store and another employee were moving the line quickly and with humor. I found myself relaxing.

(UPS Stores are independently owned franchises).

When it was my turn, my document was notarized by the store owner and then he did something remarkable. He said: “No charge.”

I’ve had occasion to have documents notarized maybe a dozen times and I always pay a small fee. I had my wallet out.

I glanced up to the wall behind him where there was a sign that said: “Notary $3.00”. He saw my eyes flick upward over his shoulder and knew where I was looking. “I know what it says on the sign, but I don’t charge for simple notary services.”

With that simple gesture, this independent business owner gave me a gift. And with that gift, he expected nothing in return.

He didn’t know if I was an island resident or vacation homeowner who might give him repeat business. He didn't know if I could have been a tourist departing the next day, never to return.

He simply gave me a gift.

Building a Fanocracy in your business

My daughter Reiko and I researched fandom for five years as we were writing our book Fanocracy: Turning Fans into Customers and Customers into Fans and we learned the key is to develop true human connection.

We identified nine ways to build connection. One way is to give gifts with nothing expected in return.

When you’re given something of value completely free and with no obligation, you tend to share your appreciation with others like I am doing right now.

However, when Reiko and I talk with people about the idea of giving gifts, there is frequent push back from those who don’t consider their company or the products and services they offer appropriate for building fans in this way.

For example, many people claim it is impossible to build a positive fan culture if the product or service is a commonly available product or service, like those provided by the UPS Store.

When we give to others rather than take, we develop a Fanocracy. Any organization can do this.

As the store owner was putting away his notary seal, I looked at the line of people waiting behind me and commented: “Boy it’s hopping in here today!”

“We’re always busy,” he replied. “You should see us when it’s really hopping!”

Photo: Nantucket.net

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