Sculptures, teenagers, and business growth

Are you old enough to remember what a big deal it was to get your high school yearbook at the end of the school year? I was a youth in the 1980’s, before the internet and instant access to pictures. The closest thing we had were the one-hour photo shops. Yes, those were really a thing.

But the yearbook was our chance to gawk over all the images of our friends in various candid shots that brought back memories of the year. But that was only half the fun. What we all love to do was get our yearbooks signed by all of our friends. As a matter of fact, it was almost an honor to be asked to sign the popular kids’ yearbooks.

It turned into a popularity contest about how many you signed, how many signed yours, and who did the signing.

One of the things to help get you more offers to sign was being known for witty comments. So, one year I had a quote I read that I was going to pull out and use. I was sure it would get me increased offers to sign and thus move me up the social pecking order.

I can’t recall the source of the quote I found, but it was this, “Every man is a sculptor, constantly shipping away the unwanted pieces of his life, trying to create his idea of a masterpiece.”

That was all I put along with my name (and if she was cute, my phone number…)

It was my first experience using optimized copy you could say. All I know is that after I started using that quote, people would read it and ask if I came up with that. Sometimes I left in vague, but I left the impression I was a profound thinker.

Once others started reading it, they wanted me to sign their yearbooks too. Same quote, same signature, over and over.

I guess it was a great quote, but it was not just that. It was because it was completely different than everything else people wrote. The typical lines in a yearbook were things like; “Stay cool and have a great Summer”; “You are so sweet. I am glad we became better friends; “Keep partying forever! Call me and let’s get wasted this Summer!” Umh, yeah I had those types of friends in high school.

What I learned that year, was that people value a couple of things:
– Something different
– Something profound

In this digital age, it is still the same. Unfortunately, what I see from far too many people trying to market is copying the same lines and same methods of everyone else. The big marketing courses are sold with templates and worksheets that get snapped up and then thrown far and wide in to the same markets.

It all becomes like a bunch of high school kids writing the same stuff on yearbooks.

To break out of the pack, be willing to find a different message. The one I used wasn’t actually mine. And I don’t suggest you lie and start taking credit for another person’s work. You should be looking for other ways to communicate.

One of the best is a great metaphor or parable. The sculptor metaphor made people stop and think about it. It did not really matter if I came up with it, I was associated as the one who brought it to people’s attention.

So, this week, I encourage you to find or create a metaphor or parable you can use that fits your audience. Something profound that you create or borrow. Be sure to attribute anything you use that is from another person. It really does not matter, because it carries the same weight and you get associated with it.

Best
Sterling
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