AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising

One-Minute MarketerDoes the Honor System Still Work?

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Does the Honor System Still Work?

When I was visiting Arizona recently, we stayed in Agritopia, which is in the suburb of Gilbert. It’s an oasis in a sea of brown and cactus. Deciduous trees line the streets filled with homes that look like the Midwest, not the desert. 20181228_175649

Another surprise is that the market at Agritopia is on the honor system. It’s a quaint little store selling organic produce from the farm at Agritopia and other local products from area retailers. There is no cash register, just a money slot and an iPad for credit cards.

I did see a few camera’s placed around, but other than large windows, there is not much to protect against someone walking off with all the goods.

What they really need are some mirrors.

There was a research project that found if you place mirrors around, people focus on themselves and act more consistent with their values. Children who had the opportunity to take extra Halloween candy did so only 8.9% of the time, compared with 34% in the control study. People littered 46% of the time, but when mirrors were placed around, only 24% of the people littered.

If you can’t get a mirror placed to get people to act more socially conscious, researchers found that a picture of eyes can be just as effective. It seems we really act differently when we are watching ourselves or reminded that others are watching.


Written by:

Mark wrote his first direct-mail fundraising letter in 1981 for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement. The effort raised a few million dollars in undiscovered wills and legacy gifts. From that day forward Mark discovered a love of the big idea that moves the needle. After 12 years at KWWL, Mark became a business owner as a co-founder of ME&V — rebranded as AMPERAGE in 2015. After 25 years of leading creative teams in video production, graphic design, PR, writing and web development, Mark transitioned out of ownership in 2021. Today he serves in an employee role as special projects consultant. He is creatively ambidextrous — son of an artist and engineer — and famous for distilling complex ideas down to a few words and a few visuals. Mark is a writer. When he found that many nonprofits struggled with complex branding puzzles, he wrote the book, “NonProfit-NonMarketing .” He also wrote a novel called “Reenactment.” Mark is an active blogger OneMinuteMarketer® with nearly 1,000 readers each week on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. One of his most popular YouTube videos is on “How to Look Good on Zoom.” One of Mark’s fondest business memories was being named to INC 500 two times and attending the INC 500 conference with other winners. Mark is considered by some a Civil War expert (and that explains his novel). Mark also served as an adjunct professor in the business and in the communications departments at Wartburg College. Mark is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is currently vice president of the University of Iowa Journalism and Mass Communications Advisory Board. Mark is married to state Sen. Liz Mathis, and the two love to travel, even when it means being trapped by a volcano in the Czech Republic for three weeks.