Folksy appeal of $100 Startup wins big
On Chris Guillebeau’s website, the 3X5 card image links his visitor from the blog page to the author’s Suggest a Tour Stop page inviting people to fill out a form including all the key information he would need in order to actually plan and execute a stop.
If you click around on his site, it moves you over to a companion site where he has an embedded Google map along with a very lengthy list of book tour stops that are currently only loosely planned. He is depending on his followers to set up stops and to fill out his itinerary.
While Guillebeau’s website is functional, it isn’t sleek or polished. But that campy, down-home DIY look is part of what his followers want from him, so it very much fits the mood he sets for his entire presentation.
One of the things I like is that he books stops on the fly, while he’s traveling, and doesn’t have it all planned out ahead, but still ends up successful!
I think one of his best tools is the way he seems to show a personal interest in his audiences such that they get energized and involved, and start working with him before he ever arrives.
He induces one person to find friends and widens his circle of influence through the sense of community these people develop as they help to organize his visits. He is appealing to that vast iconic group of people who value individuality and buck the tide in whatever ways they can, and he taps into their hope of autonomy in order to energize them.
Guillebeau gives an impression that he does all this on his own, but when you drill down, you learn that it actually is not a one-man-show. At the very least, there is someone whose job it is to keep the twitter feeds moving, answer the emails, pay the webmaster and do all those things an agent or “community manager” does.
Plan for the crisis
One of the problems with Chris Guilebeau’s sites is that once you leave http://chrisguillebeau.com, and you arrive at http://100startup.com, there is no link back. Maybe he wrote his pages that way on purpose; after all, neither is there a way back in real life. That’s unlikely, and it’s unfortunate.
Any page that doesn’t take the visitor HOME is going to lose customers. And, what would happen if his tour map crashed? It is flawed; it could crash at any time.
These mediums, too, each have a purpose and contribute, no, not where he is and who he’s with, but serious reflections on life and purpose. Not cute little paragraphs, but blog length anecdotes that are organized into “Notes”, notes that can be, and were, posted anywhere. Like, Liberia, Ethiopia…
and, oh, he answers his emails.