What is Your “Walking Bacon?”

Our guest contributor this month is Mystery School Ambassador Eric Henning. Eric has been seen around the world, from the streets of Paris to our nation’s capital. He has been featured at the National Theatre, at three Presidential Inaugurations, has made five appearances at the White House, and was twice voted as the Washington D.C. Magician of the Year! Eric shares his thoughts on how to turn your clients into fans, and your fans into friends.

What is Your “Walking Bacon?”

You may have seen the popular social media meme about “walking bacon.” A woman relates how she went to a deli, bought a sub sandwich for lunch, and got a separate package with the sub. The owner explained that it was “walking bacon,“ three extra pieces that she could eat on her way back to her office. She was floored by the generous gesture.  

But this is something that smart business people have done for centuries. We already know about the “baker’s dozen,” which originated in medieval times as a kind of insurance against the crime of giving a bakery customer a short order. You may even have heard of the Louisiana custom of “lagniappe,” which basically means giving “a little extra.”

Here’s an example. One local restaurant specializing in Cajun cuisine does something special in the winter. The chef/owner delivers your check with a demitasse of hot chocolate containing just a splash of bourbon. It’s a lovely ending to an amazing meal. This is a lagniappe. It’s the thirteenth bagel, the cherry on the sundae, the chocolate on the hotel pillow, the hostess gift, the walking bacon. It’s that exquisitely tasteful little extra that makes the entire experience special, and anchors it in our memory.

It sticks in our memory precisely because it makes us feel seen, recognized, and special. In an era when customers are being reduced to data, this is huge. Any time we can be “state of the art” while maintaining our “state of the heart,” that’s a massive win. It also makes us stand out from the crowd. Sadly, this is because customer service in general has declined so much that many companies can’t, or won’t, provide even their basic product or service. They continually disappoint their customers. When we – as entrepreneurs, entertainers, executives or professionals in any field – give a little extra, these days it just means so much more. 
I was reminded of this recently, when I was able to accommodate a client who had to change their show time due to an issue with their venue. Because I had built extra time into my schedule, it didn’t throw me off, and the client was super happy. Once we grasp this, it can influence our entire business. Anyone can charge $500 and do a $500 show. But if you charge $1,000 and do a $2,000 show, you’ll soon thrive. 
As trite as it is, the phrase “under promise and over deliver” remains true in every area of business. If we follow it, we will get the five-star reviews, the raving fans, the repeat bookings, and the word of mouth referrals that help keep our businesses thriving.

These extras don’t have to be lavish or expensive. When I was in the investment business years ago, a handwritten thank-you note to a client resulted in a referral for a multimillion-dollar account. That’s not why I did it, but it shows the power of taking that extra step. The client told me that in decades of investing, I was the first broker who had even said “thank you!”
As an entertainer, the extra might mean doing a longer time than expected, lending our PA system to a client who forgot theirs, putting a customized spin on a routine to help highlight the theme of the event, advising on the overall event flow (where appropriate), magically producing awards, gifts or door prizes, or any of a hundred other ideas that we could generate organically from each unique event. We don’t always have to do it, but by adopting this mindset, we will, more and more, begin to see real, appropriate, and effective ways to add our own “walking bacon” to our clients’ experience. 
One final story. One of the best sushi places in Baltimore is Matsuri (Japanese for “festival”). My late wife and I used to go there each month before the nearby Yogi Magic Club meeting. After our second or third visit, our food would arrive with a bottle of saki and three cups. Before we finished, the owner, Bill Tien, would sit and have a quiet drink with us before returning to the swirling activity of the kitchen. He was letting us know that he valued us as repeat customers. We became and remain good friends to this day. This is how you turn clients into  fans, and fans into friends. 

So, what is your “walking bacon?” What tasteful, extra goody can you provide to your customers, your students, or your staff that will make them feel special? Sit down and brainstorm some ideas. Try different things and see what builds those relationships – and let us know what you discover.
Eric Henning

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