I’m not a fan of Black Friday crowds. So this year, to avoid never-ending lines and the general hassle that goes along with “door buster” sales, I went to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to have my license renewed.
Yes, you read that correctly. I went to the DMV to avoid lines and hassles.
And it worked. I breezed through the check-in line and was assigned a case number within three minutes. A mere 17 minutes later I was face-to-face with Jean, a cheerful DMV associate.
A 20-minute wait at the DMV? Best Black Friday deal ever.
As Jean sorted through my paperwork, she looked up over the rims of her bright blue bifocals and asked if I would like my license verified. “I’m not sure what that means,” I whispered back with more than a hint of confusion in my voice. I’d assumed that any license issued by the DMV was a verified document.
Turns out, they’re not. According to Jean (and the REAL ID Act), beginning in 2017 air travelers may need to present a “verified” license – obtained by presenting extra identity documents during the license application or renewal process – as a proper form of ID to board a commercial flight, international or domestic. “Even if you’re just going to Philadelphia,” Jean added with a shake of her silver hair.
I told Jean I’d never heard about that, to which she responded: “It’s been all over the news…you just haven’t been looking for it.” And there it was…my very own Black Friday door buster: The spirit of Relevance Marketing is alive and well at the DMV. For Jean, whose job will change dramatically because of the new legislation, news of the REAL ID Act seems to be everywhere. However, for someone like me, who rarely boards a plane and didn’t need to renew my license until now, the news had been as good as invisible because it wasn’t relevant.
But now, as I stood face-to-face with Jean at the DMV counter, the news became suddenly – and painfully – relevant. It meant that I would have to come back to the DMV – not in six years when my soon-to-be-new but run-of-the mill license would expire, but within the next two years to get a verified license. Or I would need to remember to pack my passport next time I fly to Philadelphia. (Or Boston. Or Los Angeles. Or anywhere.)
And with that simple threat of personal inconvenience, the news had my attention. Not only did I hear the message from Jean, but because its relevance struck such a nerve, I grabbed my iPhone and started passing the news immediately and feverishly along to family and friends who travel frequently.
Within a minute or two, another Black Friday bonus snapped me out of my social networking blitz: Jean’s colleague at the photo station called my name before Jean had finished processing my documents. They were actually ahead of themselves, which meant zero more minutes of waiting for me. I started to wonder if the Black Friday DMV experience might just be the answer to World Peace.
Jean completed my paperwork and I proceeded to the camera station. As I stood in front of the blue sheet trying desperately not to blink, I reflected on Jean’s words…“It’s been all over the news…you just haven’t been looking for it.” She had perfectly articulated why Relevance Marketing works: By delivering the right message at the right time through the right channel to the right target, it’s more likely that the right people will hear that message. And not only will they hear it, but they’ll also internalize it, act on it and carry it forward; as I did within seconds of Jean telling me about the REAL ID Act.
So while I didn’t set foot in a retail store this Black Friday, I was caught up in the spirit of giving – giving a heads up to anyone who might need to renew a license in the next few months, and spreading the gift of relevance.