18 2 / 2013
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13 4 / 2012
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10 3 / 2012
The Story of the Beach Balls
I like to think that I get my knack for selling from my dad, a man who has sold practically everything for over 60 years. When I was a child, we would sit together and talk about his early days - stories about him as a kid himself, being a salesman on the streets of Italy. The following is one of my personal favourites: The Story of the Beach Balls.
From the ages of nine to 16, my dad would travel on his own, from town to town during festivals to sell items to help support his family. For two months of the year, he used to sell beach balls. He would sell the odd one during the day, but at night he would set up shop in the area where he knew there would be a lot of traffic (the downtown core).
Even though there were hundreds of people to sell to, beach balls were very tough to sell. They weren’t flashy, durable or a necessity. And in those days, people could barely afford the things they needed, let alone things they wanted.
He figured that he’d have to entice kids in order to get parents to buy. Plan A was to take a kid’s hand and give them a beach ball. Let them hold it, bounce it - discover how fun having one could be. And then he would take it back. These kids would cry, scream and hang onto the beach ball so tight that their parents had no choice but to buy it.
When he couldn’t get a kid’s attention, he went for plan B: Pinching. He would pinch a kid enough that he/she would start crying. When their parents took notice, my dad would cleverly explain that the reason for their child’s tears was because they wanted a beach ball to take home. Plan B was a little more devious than Plan A, but it worked. A lot.
My dad used his knowledge of strategy, demographics, target audiences, persuasion and product positioning to his advantage. (Smart Kid.)
16 1 / 2012
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30 11 / 2011
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11 10 / 2011
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