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Sunday, March 22

Sinatra Test, Safexpress and the Power of Stories(yet again!!)

Was doing some research for my Bollywood book. Essentially trying to figure out why certain things, stories, anecdotes on celluloid stick, others don't. In this context, had ordered the book - Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath sometime back...

There is this interesting sticky story in one of the chapters of the book that I wanted to share. It's called the Sinatra Test.

In Frank Sinatra's classic - New York. New York, he sings about starting a new life in New York City and the chorus declares -"If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere!". An example say the authors pass the Sinatra Test when one example alone is enough to establish credibility in a given domain.

Safexpress, a family owned shipping/ courier business used the Sinatra Test to it's advantage. Sometime back it was very keen to win the account of a major Bollywood studio. The competition were the likes of FedEx, UBS!!

For Bollywood, piracy is a major concern, so distribution is mission critical. If the film gets in the wrong hands before release, bootlegged versions show up at the street corners within days...

Fortunately, Safexpress had a powerful credential ready. Safexpress had successfully delivered the 5th Harry Potter book recently. Every Potter book in every store had been delivered by Safexpress. The books had to be delivered by 8 am on the day of the release. Not too early, or the bookseller would be tempted to sell and the story would be out. And not too late or the store would have had to face irate customers and loss in sales!!

This one credential story was enough for Safexpress to get the Bollywood studio account. The Harry Potter story passed the Sinatra Test. Safexpress could have used statistics that 98.84% of all it's deliveries arrived on time or it could have given an external source of credibility from the CEO of a big MNC company!

But there is something extraordinary in being the company that delivered Harry Potter on time!! It passes the Sinatra Test. It sticks. I am sure I will remember Safexpress and this sticky factoid years from now.

This 'stickiness power' comes from the concreteness of the story rather than from numbers or authority! The story makes one believe - If Safexpress can deliver it there, it can deliver anywhere...

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