The 30 + 1 Rule

I’m a big fan of process. Processes let you present a consistent face to the customer, and give you a starting point to work from when you’re trying to correct frequently occurring problems.

But there are times when the process doesn’t work for one reason or another; and in those cases, you have to find a way to fix, change, or circumvent the process–especially when it’s impacting your customers. Sometimes, it’s even necessary for you to try and do this if you’re the customer!

Streamling...or Steamrolling?
Last month we talked about a massive rezoning effort being undertaken in our town to try to simplify and streamline a lot of older processes that had become somewhat outdated with the growth of the community.

The new procedure, called the “Universal Development Ordinance” (UDO) included some very interesting provisions.

One would allow rezoning in certain cases by the Town Planning Department staff–without oversight by the Planning Council and final
approval by a vote of the Town Commissioners.

A second provision allowed some property owners to request a zoning change to be “bundled” into the UDO without having to go through the normal process of posting zoning- change signs, notifying adjacent property owners by mail, and holding individual public hearings.

Both of these have the potential for very serious impact on our community, the traffic patterns, and, ultimately, our property values.
Since we’ve only lived in our new house for a few months, we were very concerned about this. And although the town had followed
the “letter of the law” in notifying citizens about these changes, the fact is that the vast majority of property owners were not aware of
the far-reaching implications of the UDO.

So a group of us sprang into action and started gathering information, talking with the Planning Department staff, and meeting with our
elected officials. The response has been interesting and eye-opening.

Mobilize the Troops!
One thing that became painfully obvious was that we would need to show up at the next Public Hearing... and we’d need to show up in force.

So we developed a campaign to inform our neighbors of the situation and invite those interested to become
more involved.

You can see the flyer we distributed to 450 homeowners–printed onbright goldenrod-colored paper for maximum attention. This encouraged people to attend the hearing and visit the website.

What’s interesting is that as much as we know about marketing, it was actually someone else on our team who suggested an improvement to the flyer. She said in an e-mail, “Based on my many, many previous experiencesas a community activist, I strongly believe in the “30 second + 1 rule,” which combines the time it takes to get from the mailbox to the first “round file” and the one page rule.”

How Does That Rule Work?
She suggested re-ordering the flyer to get all the action items at the top of the page and “hit a nerve” early by referencing the “win” that the community had gotten just two years earlier, and how it seemed as if the developers were “going through the back door” to try and resurrect the project by sidestepping the very community action that had brought it to a screeching halt last time.

The “30 + 1” Rule is a great reminder of the need to connect with your market, identify with their “hot buttons,” and compel them to take action now.