I think the term is “social proof.” It’s the currency of on-line marketing nowadays. When my wife and I owned martial arts studios in Hillsboro and Sherwood, it was the difference between my saying something about our program and someone else saying the same thing.
For instance, with a financial partner and another martial arts friend, Nancy and I set-up Oregon’s first transported after-school martial arts program. We had a couple of 15-passenger vans–a friend of mine recently called them “death traps”–a 3,000 square foot studio near a well known restaurant and highway, and lots of experience and talent in programming for children and youth. We ran 14 weeks of summer camp the first year, in addition to the usual martial arts classes for children, youth and adults. During the school year, we picked up kids from a dozen or more Washington County elementary and middle schools, keeping everyone busy and safe until parents finished up at work.
A person has to have a little bit of skill to do that sort of thing.
But telling you that wouldn’t persuade you to hand me $400-500 a month, would it? Not if I asked you to sign a contract, right? That’s where “social proof” comes in. A couple of letters, maybe a video or two of parents swearing that we hadn’t damaged their children, and a razzle-dazzle website of studio pictures that screams “you or your child can be the next Bruce Lee” puts it all together. Or helps to.
I’m writing about social proof on an author site because you need to know that Two Bears Books isn’t selling you the usual pablum of insipid intellectual and entertainment fare many Westerns are made of. I’ve been to most of these places (see the real Bucket of Blood Saloon above). I’ve lived in some of the places I write about. I’ve shot the guns, thrown the punches and weathered the sometimes complex relationships my characters find themselves in.
Have I told you that well-known Western author, Louis L’Amour, once wasted two-hours of my life? Not that I knew him of course, and I appreciate Louis L’Amour’s Westerns as much as the next guy. But in one of his books, L’Amour placed cold beer on the Comstock (the gold and silver strikes in Nevada) in a time and place cold beer wasn’t. And the editor of my first book caught me parroting that less-than-fact.
I’m just saying, a reader has to be careful nowadays.
So here’s some early social proof of our efforts, as it were. More recent media content is posted elsewhere on this site–Forest Avenue Press’ Publisher, Laura Stanfill’s interview series entitled, “Seven Questions.”
And here’s an interesting article and video by Casey Parks in the Oregonian online about the Orygun Gunfighters, Oregon’s first Cowboy Fast Draw club. I shoot what I write about, which sort of helps things along…
Thank you, ladies!