I saw something very interesting happen a few weeks ago.

A woman who runs an online business academy created a document of case studies, which she sent to her email list about 48 hours before registration closed.

Normally, Marie Forleo is really on brand and all her marketing materials have a certain look/feel.

For case studies though, rather than formatting it onto a website or into a PDF, she made a Google Doc and shared the link.

Here it is:

whygoogledoc

It’s not like this person doesn’t have access to design skills and other resources to have made a pretty, laid out PDF or website with this information happen… it means this was intentional.



Why would someone link to a Google Doc instead of a page on their website?

The only reason I can think of: so you know that other people are looking.

So while the anonymity of this setup doesn’t allow me to see who else is looking, I can see the number of people looking.

When I first looked at this, it showed 95 people also looking at the document. So if there are a few spots available for an online academy and 95 people looking at a document trying to decide whether or not to go, this is a great way to show the demand and get people to act.

If I was looking at a website or PDF (one I didn’t build/have access to), there would be no way for me as a visitor to see who was on the site.

When I can see other people wanting something, it makes it more desirable.

Think about it, you go on Facebook and see your friend wants to go to an event. You shop on Black Friday and someone else want that sweater. It’s the same general idea but this is the first time I had thought to use this concept in a business-y way.

So I decided to pull my own ‘other people are watching’ experiment.

I had a workshop scheduled a couple weeks ago. Not enough people signed up so I asked for the email addresses of the people who wanted to come. I then emailed them all to find out their general interests (‘I work Fridays’ etc.) and then from it constructed a Doodle poll to decide on the final workshop date:

doodlepoll

So rather than just putting out a date, I am actively working with people on the selection of the date. This should increase the amount of people who sign up (and show up) but I’ll have to let you know how that worked out after the fact.

Anyway, this ‘who’s watching’ idea made me smile when I saw it (and probably saved Marie Forleo’s team hours in PDF formatting/design as a bonus). How can you use this idea for your next online or offline business initiative?