I have the opportunity to spend this week with clients in San Francisco. The drive, though tedious, is one of my great pleasures. I love to spend 7 hours trapped in the car with an audio book on my I-Pod. I stop at nearly all the rest stops and think. Yes, think.
I get some of my best ideas at rest stops. My mind is relaxed and emptied—ready for a new thought.
At the first stop only 30 miles from home, I saw something funny and instructional. I parked next to an all-terrain type vehicle with a big seal on the door that read (I am changing the wording slightly to protect the entity) Northwest Nature Preservation. The owner returned after a few minutes, removed the seal (magnetic) to reveal “California Nature Preservation”. The seal was, except for the word “Northwest” exactly the same. He had just crossed into California from Oregon and stopped for a break. The driver, a fit, “I camp and hike a lot” looking guy got out of the vehicle to check the bicycle secured to the back of the real SUV.
I had to ask. “Why change the sticker?” The man, nonplussed, replied, “they really don’t like anything to do with California up there. It makes it easier for me to work with them.” He inspects camp areas and makes eco suggestions.
I drove another 40 minutes and stopped at the next rest area. This time, I parked next to a car that looked a lot like the one pictured above. I took a picture but decided not to use it. My intent is ALWAYS to instruct, sometimes amuse, sometimes humiliate (GreenTree), never embarrass (the innocent).
On this badly beat up car with its duck taped windshield was a license plate frame with the words California Auto Specialist. Can you see how instructional these rest stops are for me????!
If you had a car repair business, would you want your name on the car pictured above? Yes sir, that’s MY work! I actually found it laugh out loud funny to see that frame on that car. An auto specialist that uses duck tape to keep the windshield from leaking? That’s probably not their work but their name is on it.
I thought about that and the seal switch I’d seen less than an hour earlier. Rich man, poor man? No. Smart business dumb business.
It matters as much WHERE you put your message as what your message says. It might be more important. Do YOU want to go to a dentist that advertises in the “Super Saver”? Can you find the name of a good lawyer on the child seat of a shopping cart? You found your CFO from sign at a bus stop, right?
If your business is going to advertise, think about where the message will play. You might be better off just doing something better or different or unexpected AT YOUR BUSINESS rather than advertising.
Word will travel faster.
Oh yes, the words on the side of this beauty (pictured above) read “Moving Contractor”. No phone number, sorry.
Chris Reich, Author of TeachU’s Business Talk Blog