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Think Twice Before You Rip Off Your Name Tag

January 28, 2009

We all know name tags as those dorky stickers that we're made to wear during networking events. We reluctantly pen our name and then stick it to our chests in an effort to make ourselves more approachable. Well, what would happen if we intentionally left them on, even after the event was over?

Scott Ginsberg makes his living testing and marketing this idea. And it seems he's onto something.

The former marketing student and now author offers some of his top lessons learned about approachability. He believes being approachable can produce dramatic improvements in work environments, cultures, relationships between people and their customers, and in profits.

"If you don't know someone you can walk up to anyone and with a smile say, 'Hello, my name is Scott and I don't know anyone," said Ginsberg, who aside from wearing a name tag every day for eight years also has a tattoo of a name tag over his heart. "When you wear a name tag, people know that you want them to be free to engage you in conversation."

His advice is as follows:

1) Approachability wins business. We live in a culture of sales resistance. Consumers are skeptical and require confidence before deciding to buy. Remember: if they can't come up to you, how will they ever get behind you?

2) Be the origin, not the echo. There are no cover bands in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Similarly, in business, the more imitable you are, the less valuable you are. Be un-competable.

3) Create points of dissonance. Curiosity is a natural motivator of human engagement. Before someone gets to the "Aha!" about what you do and who you are, they have to be captivated by the "Huh?"

4) Don't be stopped by not knowing how. Focus (first) on the what and the how will eventually appear. Remember, ideas are free; execution is priceless.

5) Create fans, not customers. More fans = less selling. You need fans, and you need to give them megaphones. The secret is in three words: build a following. Post on your blog everyday [if you have one], because writing is the basis of all wealth.

6) Make the mundane memorable. Nobody notices normal and nobody buys boring. Positioning yourself as "normal" is like asking customers to find a needle in a stack of needles. Remember – those who get noticed get remembered; and those who get remembered, get business.

7) Networking works. Remember, luck is an acronym for "working your a** off." If you want to be in the right place at the right time, you need to be in a lot of places. Then, find out where the rock created the ripple and go throw more rocks.

8) People buy people first. Every interaction you have with somebody either adds to or subtracts from the positive perception of your brand. Remember, people don't buy from, trust or have loyalty to companies, but rather, people.

9) Schtick must be supported by substance. Sure, schtick might get in the door. But in marketing, that doesn't guarantee you'll stay in the room. Only value and substance can do that. In business, you can't be all sugar. Customers want value. Customers want substance. Customers want to take a few licks and then discover your Tootsie center.

For more on keeping that name tag on, check out Ginsberg's site. And for laughs, check him out on this video news report.

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