July 24, 2007

Sales Don't Just Happen - Who ARE you?

"I don't know who you are.

I don't know your company.

I don't know your company's products.

I don't know your company's customers.

I don't know your company's record.

I don't know your company's reputation.

I don't know what your company stands for.

Now…What was it that you wanted to sell me?"

In 1958, McGraw-Hill first published a classic ad depicting a grumpy customer sitting in a banker's chair. In the ad (known in advertising circles as “the man in the chair” ad) he scowls out from a page that is adorned with the classic lines above.


You may not have seen the original 1958 ad, but you may have seen one of the 4 revisions over the last, almost, 50 years. (1968, 1972 and 1997).  The revisions were updates to more contemporary looking man – and woman in the chair, as well as an updated chair.  The copy stayed the same.

Why has this advertisement stood the test of time? The ad is as relevant today as it was almost 50 years ago because, the ad clearly and (as some sales people can attest to) realistically shows how essential it is for a business to have a personality, a brand about something “other than just what they produce”. “The ad asks”, says John Peebles, creative director at New York City-based Adler Boschetto Peebles & Partners, McGraw-Hill's agency, “what is the perception of you before you walk through the door?"

McGraw-Hill ran the "man in a chair" ad to promote its marketing / advertising business. However, using a traditional marketing firm to develop a branding strategy, while sound, can be costly. In addition, developing your brand through traditional advertising efforts is not only costly but slow.

So what’s a small business owner or entrepreneur to do?  You want to look for other ways to get known. You take action to promote yourself.

Write. Write articles for trade publications, the newspaper, and for online article distribution sites. Write tip sheets you can hand out. Blog .Writing establishes you as an expert and builds name recognition.

Speak – Seek invitations to speak to groups that include your target market, future and current customers. Use your speech to demonstrate your expertise and experience in your area of work.

Network – Use every opportunity when meeting people to learn about them and their business. Be sure you have a succinct "elevator speech" ready, a 30 to 60 second monologue that is a clear, benefit focused response to the question, “What do you do?”. 

Press Releases – Send news releases to local media and trade media. Complete a training course? Teach a workshop? Hire a new employee? Then write a press release!  Tie your “news” into a local or national news topic or holiday, you’ll have a better chance of your release being picked up and run as a news story.  If it is picked up, be sure to make copies to use in your marketing.

Before you can get the Man in the Chair to listen to what you have to say, you've got to do things that make you and your company familiar and respected as the “go-to” . They're not hard. But if you do them every day and every week they build your recognition. And recognition helps build sales.

Action Step

Every day for the next three months, do one thing to promote your business. Put it on your list of daily action steps.   You can start simply by writing a short article describing a “how to” for a common client issue. Pretend a client has called and asked you a “how to” question and this article is your response.

Promotion Action is a series of 6 workshops to help the service professional and/or entrepreneur take action and establish their brand as “expert” and themselves as the “go-to” person in their field. The next onsite Promotion Action workshop series begins September 13, from 3:30 pm. To 5:00 pm. in South Portland

On Tuesday, September 18, from 10:00 am to 11:00 am. eastern time, the first Promotion Action teleclass begins. If you don't live in the Greater Portland area you can still participate and put your promotion plan into action! For more information please visit www.promotionaction.com or call Bold Vision Consulting at 207-221-3492.

BTW - This ad was created by Fuller, Smith a Ross, McGraw-Hill's advertising firm. Little known fact: The first man in the chair was Gil Morris, an account supervisor for the agency. A bow-tied Morris sat in the chair for a Polaroid test shot in advance of the "real" shoot. But his grouchy look was so impressive and "in character" for the ad that he wound up being cast as the "man in the chair" for the final shoot instead of the professional model waiting in the wings.

Posted by Lynnelle Bianco at 04:43 PM

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You might be interested in knowing that I’m offering a free email tutorial called "89 Ways to Write Powerful Press Releases."

I explain why we should no longer be writing press releases only for the press, but for consumers who can find the releases online, click through to our websites and enter our sales cycle, even if journalists don’t think our release is worthy of attention.

The course includes several terrific press release samples as well as "before" and "after" makeovers.

You can sign up for the free press release writing tutorial at http://www.PublicityHound.com/pressreleasetips/art.htm

It's a very long tutorial but please stick with it. By the time you're done, it will be like earning a master's degree in writing and distributing press releases. And you'll know more about this topic than many PR people.

Posted by Joan Stewart
July 26, 2007 07:40 AM

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