An 80-Year-Old Sales Lesson
Ever heard of Lester Wunderman?
Neither had I. But now that I know him, I thought I would put out a Short Attention Span Sales Tip in his honor. If you are in the print and mail business, you owe Mr. Wunderman a debt of gratitude, too.
In 1939, at age 19, Lester founded an advertising agency. In his search for customers, he made a profoundly simple and perfectly effective sales pitch, going door-to-door using the opening line, “I’m here to help you sell what you make.”
I get back to that statement in a second.
Lester Wunderman’s impact on the world and our world came when he renamed junk mail as direct marketing, advising his clients to use all kinds of advertising — including mail, magazine inserts, TV and Internet campaigns — to reach customers directly and “loyalize” them, as he sometimes put it. This is the guy, by the way, who designed the original Columbia Record Club, if you are old enough to remember what that was.
The man was a pioneer whose success came largely from finding ways to test the effectiveness of ads and quantify the sales each campaign produced.
“I’m here to help you sell what you make.” That sounds like a sales call we in the graphic arts should be making as well. It’s the closest that I’ve heard to my former client Sean Fitzgerald’s perfect response to my asking him the essence of what a print sales rep does: “We help our customers to find their customers.”
If you think you are in print sales (or signs or labels or packaging or paperboard or… ) and your job is to find people who buy print and provide them with quality, service and delivery, I want to wish you well in your next job (but then again, you’re probably reading an article that popped up when you googled Columbia Record Club and then moved on to chase the next squirrel).
Embrace Lester’s sales pitch. It embodies the difference between selling print and solving problems, between “Your price is too high” and “We are going to go with your idea.”
The only reason I know about Lester Wunderman is that I read his obituary. He died on Jan. 9 at 98 years old. Rest in peace, Lester.
And thank you.