Pencils stopped scratching.
Eyes turned to the front of the room at the now familiar sound of “Groucho” turning the paper on the flip chart.
He closed the flip chart. Leaned it against the wall next to the door.
Seeming oblivious to the class, he set his briefcase on the desk. One by one, he placed his felt markers in the little pockets in the top of the briefcase.
Glancing at the class, he began to gather up his notes. Tapped the stack on the desktop.
Tap, tap. Tap.
He put them in the briefcase. Click. Closed the briefcase.
Following his lead, students began to gather up notes, papers and ads. Pens were tucked into pockets and purses.
Still silent, Groucho placed his briefcase next to the flipchart, right beside the door. Almost casually, he strolled to the desk. Perched on the edge.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
Brief silence, as 20 people pondered the question.
“Getting ready to leave?” Elvis-guy ventured.
The question mark was audible.
“What makes you think it’s time to leave?” Groucho asked. Glancing around the room, the expressions were pretty comical.
With an exaggerated expression of sudden understanding, eyebrows raised, Groucho announced “Ahhh- I see! You thought that since I packed up my things….”
Mumbles of agreement came from the class.
“That would be an assumption?” Groucho asked…
“Subconscious parallel assumptions!” he announced, watching the class for reaction. He stood up and paced the room.
“If you walked into the Gucci store, you would expect the watches and handbags to be authentic Guccis, right? Yet.. if you walk into a bargain store and see a bag labelled Gucci on sale for $10, you assume it’s a knockoff. Yes?” Heads nodded in agreement.
“I had a meeting a few years ago. A very memorable meeting,” he said very intently. He paused, as though in reflection.
Turning, he snorted. “Don’t remember a damn word he said. I DO remember the ketchup on his tie. Very unprofessional, the ketchup.” He laughed, amused by the memory.
“Assumptions,” he said again, with exaggerated emphasis.
“They can work for you or against you.” He waved his hand around wildly, holding up his pointer finger.
“One. ONE typo can change your ad from dynamic to unprofessional.
Just like the ketchup.
He explained that the human brain is wired to protect us. That we look for clues that something isn’t what it seems.
He went on to discuss the parallel assumptions people make.
- If your ad is misleading, people assume you’re dishonest
- Or that the product is inferior and mislead to sell it.
- That if your ad looks amateur, you are, too.
- If you have typos in your ad, you’re unprofessional, too.
He emphasized that if YOU come across as unprofessional, your product instantly becomes inferior, too.
That goes for your graphics, your spelling, your claims, your layout. Everything.
Glancing at the clock, he announced that he had one more assignment. As students shuffled to pull out pencils and pens, he held his hand up like a traffic cop.
“Go – buy a notebook. The 99 cent kind.”
“Everytime an ad, a comnpany, or a salesperson does something to turn you off… to lose the sale – big or small – write it down. Everytime an ad, a conpany or a salesperson, does something to light up your eyes and make the sale – big or small – write it down.”
“The more you put in your notebook, the more you’ll understand.
You will be surprised at what you discover. About yourself first.
What you respond to. And about selling, second.”
Walking over to the door, Groucho turned to the class.
“Understand that people make assumptions based on what you say and what you do. If you don’t learn how to make that work for you, it will work against you. That’s a promise.”
He tucked his briefcase under his arm. Picked up the flowchart. With a smile and a wink, he was gone, leaving us to ponder just a while before we went on our way.