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I read a book a few years ago that really changed my outlook on advertising and branding. It is an absolutely amazing book. If you spend just one dime on advertising, you absolutely have to read this book.

I’d like to share one of the stories in it though, as a lesson on customer perception and how to look at things in a different way.

First, let me say, I started this blog under the name of Biz Ideas. But after the third or fourth post, the story I’m about to relate to you came back to me and I realized I need to promote my name so I can establish myself as someone you can trust for good entrepreneur info.

The story is so much better in the book, but I’ll give you the gist.

The residents of a county (somewhere in the US) started seeing the name “Russell Smith” (can’t remember the actual name so I’ll make one up) everywhere in the county. They’d see a roadside sign here and there with his name on it. It would say, “Russell Smith cares about Bergen County.” (Again, county name is made up.) Then they’d see a car parked on the side of the road out in the middle of nowhere with that saying painted on the side. Funny thing was, no one knew who this Russell Smith was. But for 2 years, everywhere they looked, they’d see the name Russell Smith. It got to the point that everyone in town was talking about it.

All the signs with his name on them all conveyed the message that he cared for people or were positive in some way.

Then the signs stopped. Bam.. no more Russell Smith. Then a year later, in November, 3 years after the name started appearing and 1 year after it stopped… low and behold, the name of Russell Smith was on the ballot for the town commissioner’s office.

Guess who won town commissioner by a landslide?

Russell made his name known but not at the expense of your vote. At the time, it was just a friendly… “hey, how ya doing… I care for this town.” He associated his name with feelings of trust and honesty without an apparent motive. (“Russell Smith is an honest person” said one of the signs.) You see, when you try to get your name known by people because you’re running for office (or you’re selling them something) they KNOW you have an ulterior motive so whatever you might say is automatically suspect. If you’re running for President and you put a sign out that says “John Blow is an honest person” they know you’re just putting that out to win an election.

I find this a very interesting concept. Make your name known apart from what you sell, associating it with something good, and it’ll eventually help you down the road when it comes time for someone to buy from you. I challenge you to figure out a way to do that in your own situation.

I’ve always been of the opinion that facts are good when leading up to the sale, but feelings are what closes it. If you already have won over their feelings (they feel good about you) then you’re sale is closed if the person needs/wants the product.

Definitely read the book.

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