Villing & Company

Clothespin Babies: How Demos and Trial Experiences Can Reduce Your Customers' Perceived Risk

In about a month, I'm going to become a father. Although, intellectually I know that my life is about to change, it's easy not to think much about it in my day-to-day life. If you were to walk through my living room, I'm sure you’d find it awfully hard to ignore. We have all sorts of boxes, strollers, car seats and weird princess-related items scattered around; not the sort of thing I’m accustomed to, having grown up with all brothers.

In preparation for the coming apocalypse (er, birth), my wife and I spent most of last Saturday attending a birthing class at Memorial Hospital. In addition to learning about the medically appropriate coloration of every possible bodily fluid I can imagine, we used balloons to “give birth” to ping pong balls, watched several horrifying videos from the seventies and practiced breathing and relaxation techniques. Again, this is not the sort of thing I typically do on a Saturday.

During the breathing exercises, our instructor, a wiry hunched over woman in her eighties, decided to up the ante. Passing out clothespins to all the women in the class, she had them do the last round of exercises with the pins clipped tightly to their little fingers. Although a clothespin might seem to be a poor analogue to the stress of giving birth, you’d be surprised at the pain they can cause over time. I'm sure our instructor's primary reason for doing this was for her own sadistic amusement at watching the mothers-to-be writhing in pain from a tiny clothespin. However, it also communicated very clearly the difficulty of relaxing in the midst of real pain. It gave us a small glimpse of what it might be like during the actual delivery and why the breathing was important.

These types of small, controlled experiences do a great job of reducing the perceived risk of trying something new. Whether it's giving birth for the first time, trying a new product or switching to a new service provider, it's always great to "try before you buy." Software and smart phone apps do a great job of offering demos and limited versions for free. Is there any part of your product or service that would benefit from a free trial or demo? Maybe a good way to reduce the barriers to working with your company is by offering potential customers free or inexpensive experiences, so they can get to know you.

Sometimes you feel more prepared to deliver the whole baby when you've practiced with a few clothespins first.

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