BITS OF SALESMANSHIP

Thomas Russell Wingate
February 2010



1


The codfish lays ten thousand eggs.

The homely hen lays one.

The codfish never cackles

To tell you what she’s done.

And so we scorn the codfish

While the humble hen we prize,

Which only goes to show you

That it pays to advertise.


Anonymous in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations


2


Short advertisements catch the eye or the ear.

We can all remember jingles of products no longer being sold. We can all quote our favorite (or most detested) radio and TV commercials.

Definitely, advertising in an art form.

Much ingenuity goes into it.

Common sense posits that an ad should be short and snappy. After all, it competes with many others for the public’s limited attention. The ad tries to leave an afterimage on the retina or a song running through the mind.

Some years ago, the Land of Enchantment beckoned tourists:

NEW MEXICO.

It’s not new.

It’s not Mexico.


As an admirer of paradox and concision, I love that slogan.

The best non-verbal advertisement I have ever seen is the “dynamic ribbon” on Coca-Cola signs, bottles, and cans.

3


I was surprised to be taught in business school that long advertisements sell better than short ones. This is counter-intuitive.

Market research establishes that prospective purchasers or investors prefer to take their time when substantial sums are involved. They are suspicious of jargon and resistant to pressure. They want adult explanations which do not confuse them. They have known buyer’s remorse and don’t wish to feel it again.

Sellers will get the best results from extensive, rather than curtailed, written presentation. Most people won’t read it, but the ones apt to buy will.

I believe these questions should be settled by experiment. I am delighted that the experiment has been conducted at no cost to me.

4


Salesman caution each other: “You may win the argument but you’ll lose the sale.”

Written material must be carefully worded. If you don’t trust your skills here, pay a ghost writer—handsomely.

5


Often, you are not doing what you think you are doing.

Face-to-face is not page-to-eye.

(Ask around about e-mail miscommunication.)

Carpenters warn: “Measure twice, cut once.”

6


Forty years ago my mentor taught me: “A salesman is an engineer of decision.”

William Arlock should have been a writer. He would be pleased that I am still heeding his counsel.

7


If you are to invest in our services, you should be well informed and favorably inclined before you contact us.

That is why this website has grown long.

We expect to be inspected—and probably rejected.

We have given you Fair Warning.
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