The Sinatra Test

When we think of how to market our business, we should ask this question: does the plan in question pass The Sinatra Test?

Coined by Chip and Dan Heath in their book Made to Stick, they remind us of Sinatra singing, “if I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.” While it may not immediately inspire thoughts of marketing plans, look again. If you can do x, you can do y. That simple formula combines credibility with substitution for a powerful impact.

Something passes the test when doing it once (successfully, of course) gives it credibility across a broader domain – “if I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.” Anchoring the song on famous tough-city New York gives him the credibility that cements the point. Making it in Topeka just wouldn’t have had the same effect.

If we’ve worked security at Fort Knox, we are qualified to work security anywhere. If we catered a lunch at the Whitehouse, we can cater any other event. If we take such good care of your family, we can take good care of your brother/friend/coworker’s family. Really consider each substitution and why it just feels like it makes sense.

The mere exposure of talking about things that pass The Sinatra Test can plant seeds in someone’s mind. The purpose is not to be pushy or bragging, but to offer a familiar feeling credibility-anchor alongside a substitute option. We want people to self-reinforce the simple idea, if they can do x, they can do y.

Look around and see what we do that passes the test and where we can insert it into conversations. Treat it as a seed and a simple take-away example to provide. In its best case it can create a referral, and in its simplest form, it reaffirms credibility. In all cases, it increases the odds of someone else spreading the word.

“New York, New York…”

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