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Now, What Was It You Wanted to Sell Me?

Picture this. A stern looking executive stares out at you from the page in the magazine…

Now, What Was It You Wanted to Sell Me?

The body of the ad reads:

“I don’t know who you are.”
“I don’t know your company.”
“I don’t know your company’s product.”
“I don’t know what your company stands for.”
“I don’t know your company’s customers.”
“I don’t know your company’s record.”
“I don’t know your company’s reputation.”
“Now, what was it you wanted to sell me?”

That ad first ran in Businessweek Magazine in 1958. As far as I know, the ad still runs. The photo has been updated several times and the copy has been translated into German, Italian, French, Russian and Chinese. But the words never change because they are as true today as they were 55 years ago.

In fact, here’s a live version of both the 1958 ad and the same ad if it were to incorporate the Internet and social media:

The message is clear, universal and timeless: If your prospective customers don’t know you, then you’ve got some tough work ahead of you to get the sale.

And by the way if you happen to sell marketing services, I’ve just handed you the perfect sales tool on a platter.

Imagine you create a proposal for ABC Business down the street to handle all of their online marketing. You make a fantastic presentation showing how you’ll update their website, get it SEO friendly, use social media, advertising and press releases and so forth to bring business in the door. It’s your usual offer and it’s dynamite.

At the end of your brilliant presentation your potential client stammers a bit and then finally says to you, “I don’t get it. Why do I need to spend so much money on marketing and advertising? Wouldn’t I be better off spending the money on my sales force knocking on doors and making phone calls?”

To which you say, “Let me show you something.” And you show them this advertisement and wait and see what happens next. Don’t say a word, just smile gently and patiently wait while they read it once, twice, maybe even three times before they speak. Odds are their very next words will be, “Okay, I get it now.”

But what about you? Do your prospects know who you are and what your brand stands for? If not, consider starting a blog. Blogging is one of the best ways to get your name out there and to show people exactly who you are, what your product is, who your customers are, your record and reputation – all of it.

If you already have a brand but not a blog, then build your blog around your brand. If you don’t have either, then brand your blog. Either way, use social media to drive traffic back to your blog where your prospective customers can get to know you and your business, and you’ll never be faced by the stern guy in the chair again demanding to know who you are and what you’re trying to sell to them.

But it all starts at the beginning – letting your prospect know that you are indeed the one who can help them before you ever begin to ask for the sale.

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