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Why I Never Joke

My father once shared a story about his friend who wanted to buy a horse (perfectly reasonable for Arizona). He had asked for my father’s help since his friend didn’t speak English well. The horse seller suggested that the particular horse they were interested in wasn’t exactly a great horse.

“Just so you know,” the older man would say. “That one doesn’t look too good.”

My father’s pal relented and said he definitely wanted that exact horse.

“Okay,” the man would say. “But I’m letting you know there are lots of others to choose from. Lots of fine horse all around here. That one just doesn’t look too great, if I say so myself.”

Nevertheless, my father’s friend purchased the horse.

Of course, several days later my father’s buddy called him up once again. He wanted to help him return the horse.

Upon reaching the livery, the seller asked what the issue was.

My father’s friend said, “The horse is blind! He can’t see a thing!”

“As I said before,” the old man retorted, “That horse doesn’t look too good…”

Brand principle “R” is to be real. The last thing your customers need is another “slick” sales presentation. Be more than simply another huckster by understanding what personalization means. Provide a needs-based service that will always complete the loop of customer satisfaction.

So how does brand principle “R” tie into the horse story my father told me?

Growing up, my father always told me that he never, ever joked around with his co-workers or friends. This was a sign of strength, he would share. If they think I am serious about doing business, they will always treat me seriously and get business done. And he pretty much lived that way. He would never, ever joke with me.

All of that flew out the window about 30 years later, when he told me that tall tale. He had essentially used the previous 30 years for a set up of monumental proportions. It wasn’t that the joke was all that funny, either. It was that he actually TOLD ME a joke!

Without a doubt, he got a reaction much different than he expected. Because, you see, I was stunned. I didn’t get that it was a joke even after he explained it was. He had so strongly delivered his “brand” of no-nonsense living, that when he finally did crack and tell me a joke, I simply didn’t understand. I was perplexed at the whole thing.

Now tell me, how often have you been on the receiving end of a “slick” presentation from a salesman or store clerk about how great this or that is, only to find out that, in fact, it’s not what you thought all along?

While this is the most obvious example of bait and switch, this occurs on a larger scale almost daily with your typical business or organizations. You show one set of wares – which, of course, positions you in a positive light – only to lack in the final delivery later on.

You end up giving your customer business whiplash. Sort of like saying you never joke, only to throw out a whopper later on.

It is important that you stay true to who and what you are. You can polish things up and present as good as face as possible, but never propose to be what you are not. Authenticity is a powerful thing. And it will garner you much more than attempting to be what you are not. You will eventually be discovered.

The moral of the story…it’s either never buy a blind horse from an Arizonan, or be real to who your brand is, otherwise you never get the success you desire.

And that’s no joke.

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