The Advantage Letter by Dave Martin
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Thursday, March 01, 2012
Volume 17 | # 403
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A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That's why they don't get what they want. » Madonna

I Love a Parade?

For much of my 4+ decades on this planet, I have had a trait that is blasphemous to my southern Louisiana roots.

I’ve never been a fan of parades.

But as with most things in life, when your kids take interest in something, you end up in places you wouldn’t choose on your own. So whenever I’ve attended parades with my kids, I’ve always had to give them the standard spiel. Don’t wander off. Don’t get too close to the floats.

If beads land in anything liquid, DO NOT pick them up.  Do not stand near jerks. They will stomp your hand when you reach for beads near them.

And if you see a woman wearing lots of beads, don’t look in her direction when a float rolls by.

When we were recently in the New Orleans area (for unrelated reasons) during Mardi Gras, a cousin invited us to attend a day’s worth of parades that roll by his office/home in downtown New Orleans. The main selling points were a private balcony and private restrooms.

So, the guy who has never enjoyed parades ended up bringing his family into the belly of the beast during the peak of Mardi Gras insanity. And truth-be-told, we had a great time. Thankfully, my cousin’s place was in close proximity to the mayor’s reviewing stand. It’s likely that the huge police presence kept our area to a PG-13 level of revelry.

We spent the entire day there and watched 3 (4? 5?) different parades roll by. It was during one of the later parades that I laughed at myself for trying to take a picture of the crowd that would be suitable for a presentation slide.

In a sea of incredible color and distraction, certain eye-catching items would occasionally pop up. Whenever they did, float riders would without fail quickly focus their attention to them and usually throw beads their way.

I’m talking about handmade signs. (Hey, this is a family-friendly letter.)

Simple messages, many of them funny and most of them clean, on basic white poster boards stood out amongst the visual clutter. I couldn’t help but reflect upon my decade-old defense of simple, clear (and yes, sometimes “handmade”) signage.

The key to getting a message across isn’t in being the most elaborate. It’s about getting noticed and succinctly delivering your message.

Do customers walking or driving by your branch today have any reason to throw their attention your way?

The Known Unknowns

There’s a couple of simple questions I like to ask branch bankers to make a point about the chasm that usually exists between what we think people know and what they actually know.

Take a minute to envision a map of your neighborhood or complex. How many of these folks do you know by name? Some folks may indeed know most.

Guys like me “know” about 50% of the folks who live within one block of me. I know almost everyone by their face. I know the cars most drive.

But I’m out of luck if you ask me to remember their names, even though I can throw a rock from my driveway and hit their homes. (That’s an effective way to learn their names, but not recommended.)

Of the 50% of the folks I know by name, I know what maybe 5 of them do for a living. And even that’s exaggerated, because one is retired.

(And for the record, the most useful neighbors to have are plumbers, electricians, AC repairmen, and computer programmers in some order.)

Okay, but that’s neighbors. How about making a list of the 10 to 20 adults you see most regularly outside of your work and theirs on a weekly basis? Maybe you see them at church or the gym or school functions or civic organization meetings.

Of the 10 to 20 adults you see most, how many do you know their occupations? If you know their occupations, can you name their employers?

I’m not saying we should immediately begin heavily selling to neighbors and folks unlucky enough to make eye contact with us at church. That’s a great way to make sure people know you well, as well as know to avoid you at all costs.

My point is that there is a natural tendency among folks in sales positions to begin to believe that they are fully known to potential prospects. Hey, it’s obvious I work at a bank and our products and services are well known. And all of our marketing tells people we want to be their bank!

So, they know where to find me when they’re ready to talk!  Uh… no.

Most of the folks walking or driving by your branch today know less about you than you know about a neighbor on the next block you occasionally wave at but don’t know by name. 

But don’t be discouraged. It only means there are more opportunities for new relationships in our own “backyards” than many realize.

That said, when was your branch’s last “open house”?

If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself. » Albert Einstein

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these columns are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of any affiliated entities or sponsors.
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