What the Northwoods Knows about Guiding First-Timers

My husband and I just got back from a four-day trip to Bayfield, WI and Madeline Island in Lake Superior. It was splendid! Every meal we ate was delicious, the weather sunny and beautiful, and the people were all friendly.

I had never been to Bayfield or Madeline Island before. I realized that part of what made the trip so good was the various indoctrination strategies I encountered.

These parts of northern Wisconsin, also called the Northwoods, are tourist destinations. Over the years, businesses have grown used to guiding the experience of first-timers. And it makes for better experiences for the guests as well as the business owners

The Bed & Breakfast

In Bayfield, we stayed at a place called The Pilot House Inn. Jack, the owner, sent me an email when I made the reservation that instructed me to print out and bring with an attached page of instructions.

It included clear directions to the place, where to park, an access code to get in the door and where to go to get to our room. And it included pictures.

This way, Jack knew if he wasn’t available when we arrived we would be able to figure out how to get started on our own.

We got into our room with no problems and felt comfortable and secure having used the guide he created.

If he hadn’t explicitly told me to print these instructions and bring them, I may not have. This would have defeated the purpose of setting up the indoctrination strategy in the first place.

Alternately, had we been left to figure it out on our own, I would have been anxious and agitated by the time we arrived, which would not have been a great start to our trip!

How You Can Do The Same For Your First-Timers

Have 3-5 people who don’t know anything about your website or company go through an average first-time experience with your business.

You can ask them if they can tell if the 5 C’s of Indoctrination are present…

Or you could give them a list of tasks or steps you want your first-time customers to take.

Have your “guinea pigs” go through these steps, then let you know how easy or difficult it was.

Doing this helps break the “curse of knowledge.” Sometimes, as business owners, we’re too close to the problem. What seems logical and obvious to us can be a mess of confusion and anxiety for newbies.

Use the feedback you get from the simulated first-time experience to craft your own indoctrination strategy that naturally draws people to you and makes them feel comfortable and happy enough to want to do business with you.