The most important word in marketing is…

…I have no idea.

But I suspected Google had the answer. So, according to 625 Google references to the exact phrase “most important word in marketing,” the following are the five most common answers:

1) YOU
“I’ve always said that the most important word in marketing is YOU. That is, your marketing needs to convey very clearly what’s in it for the client or customer. ‘This is what YOU get, client.’ Take a look at some of those very important conditions that must be met before a prospective client is likely to do business with you.”

–Robert Middleton

2) WHY
“The most critical word in marketing contains only three letters. It’s the word WHY. It is much better to communicate WHY you are original, special or unique, or WHY you are better, different or superior than competitors, and not the *fact* that you are. In other words, the point is that you should imply your superiority by specifying, as much as possible, what exactly makes you better than anyone else. This approach is more powerful, and the effect lasts longer.”
–Michael Fortin

“Every guerrilla knows that the number one factor influencing purchase decisions is confidence. The road to confidence is paved with credibility. And that’s the most important word in marketing – commitment. It is something that also fuels your credibility. When people see that you are maintaining consistency in your marketing, they’ll assume you’re just as committed to quality and service.”

–Jay Conrad Levinson

4) NEW
“New is probably the strongest word in marketing. People are attracted to new products like a magnet. Introducing new products on a constant basis is the best way to get attention and invaluable free publicity for your business.”

–Roni Horowitz

“FREE was, is and will always be the most powerful word in marketing. Most viral marketing programs give away valuable products or services to attract attention. FREE will usually get results and responses much faster. Viral marketers practice a form of delayed gratification. They may not profit today, or tomorrow, but if they can generate a groundswell of interest from something free, they know they will profit sooner or later. Why? Because FREE attracts eyeballs.”

–Edward “Skip” Masland

I put “free” last because I also found a brilliant article which argues that “free” is the most DANGEROUS word in marketing. Check this out:

“I’ve been advising businesses for nearly 20 years that a business model driven by attracting prospects through giving something away for free is almost always a model for failure. And it doesn’t matter whether you use this model online or offline – it will nearly always fail.”

–Bob Serling


What do you think is the most important word in marketing?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

The Christian Science Monitor ran my OpEd about Jeff’s article!

(This is the third post in a series of incidents regarding an article by Jeff Shaffer in the August 26th issue of the Christian Science Monitor.)

This is the first time I’ve ever written a letter to the editor. Mainly because it’s the first time I’ve ever read an article about why people should wear nametags.

Click here to read the LTE in today’s issue of the Christian Science Monitor!


When you read newspapers and magazines, do you read the letters to the editor?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

God bless the Internet

In last Friday’s post, I asked friends and strangers in the blogospehere to help me locate a man named Jeff Shaffer. He wrote a fantastic article in the Christian Science Monitor about wearing nametags.

I immediately received several letters from people who’d searched for his information on, Linkdin, Catbird Press, Google and the like. But because it was the weekend, I figured I’d wait till Monday to verify the information.

THEN…exactly 55 hours and 42 minutes later, I received an email from Jeff Shaffer himself! He was actually Googling his recent column and came across my blog post!

Oh, the irony.

Jeff and I marveled about the ease with which we found each other on the web. (As it turns out, the information people sent me was for a different Jeff Shaffer.) But then again, it’s really not that surprising how easy it was…

Let me take you back to December 31st, 2002 when HELLO, my name is Scott was officially released. As many of you know, The Portland Tribune ran an article about it, which hit a news wire, led to an explosion of publicity and ultimately birthed my career as an author, speaker and publisher.

But what you may NOT know is that the day that article came out, I received a late night phone call from a strange man who ended up stalking me for about two months. He called me daily, left creepy messages on my answering machine and even showed up at the furniture store where I worked!

All because he got my cell phone number from my website.

Damn. Maybe I was too approachable.


Has the web decreased our anonymity?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

I MUST meet Jeffrey Shaffer – any ideas?

Jeffrey Shaffer is freelancer who writes about media, American culture, and personal history. He recently published a brilliant article in the Chrisitian Science Monitor called Nothing a good name tag can’t fix. (Article sent to me by John Milton Fogg.) Here are some exerpts:

“So here’s a hypothetical question to consider next time you’re standing at a busy intersection: Would you rather have your face captured on a surveillance camera or wear a nametag that everyone around you can read? What is more worrisome, losing privacy to the government or to your fellow citizens?”

“I know that having every person wear an identification badge while they’re walking around in public is totally impractical and would make all of us feel we’re attending a huge, endless business convention, but the concept might be useful on a much smaller scale, so here is a serious suggestion: nametags for all students at primary and secondary schools. It seems like a simple step in the direction of community spirit that educators are constantly trying to encourage.”

“I make no claims that this idea will cause better test scores or other academic improvments. All I’m trying to do is start some conversations. And knowing somebody’s name seems like a good reason to say ‘hello.'”

Here’s the deal folks: I GOTTA MEET JEFFREY SHAFFER!

I Googled the hell out of him, and can’t get an email or phone number. Even tried 411 – nuthin! Considering the article, I would just love to chat with this guy. It’s just too perfect.


Do you know how I can get ahold of Jeffrey Shaffer?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

Excuse me, but did you just call me “mate”?

In the past few weeks, I’ve read several articles addressing a possible ban on the word “mate” in the halls of Parliament House. According to

“It’s pomposity gone mad,” Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke said. “It’s not surprising. In a sense we’re living in an age where the concept of mateship has been damaged to a fairly large extent by a lot of the approaches of this government.”

“It is a great part of Australian culture that we do call each other mate,” said federal Labor leader Kim Beazley. “That (Parliament House) is a palace of democracy, not the palace of imperial Rome.”

Asked if he minded being called mate in Parliament House, Mr Beazley replied “I insist on it”.

“I think that one of the great things is the friendliness of the staff in this place and to even suggest to them that they can’t call you mate when you’re coming in of a morning…,” Senator Bob Brown said. “And it’s the great leveller, it keeps us – in particular us elected members of parliament – in touch with reality.

This takes me back to my days at the furniture store in Portland. I worked with a predominately Mexican employee base, and I’ll never forget my first day. The moment I stepped into the warehouse every one of the guys started calling me hommie. It was great. I felt part of the team immediately! It was their version of “mate.”

Working at the Ritz Carlton was similar, but with a Bosnian culture. Their version of “mate” was “my friend.” And everyone – even if we’d just met – called each other “my friend.”

Now that’s a friendly workplace.

(For a complete analysis of the word “mate,” check out a geat post from Darrel Rhea’s blog.)


What’s your version of “mate”?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

“Approachable” political figures dies at 55

British Northern Ireland Secretary Marjorie Mowlam, whose no-nonsense style helped forge Northern Ireland’s landmark peace accord, died yesterday at the age of 55 after hitting her head in a fall last month.

I read several articles about Ms. Mowlam. The consensus was that she was well known for her approachability. Irish Health reported this:

Mowlam served as NI Secretary from 1997 to 1999. She played an instrumental role in the negotiations that led to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. Her approachability and lack of formality during these negotiations was seen as a major factor in their success.

AP reported this:

Prime Minister Tony Blair, who made Ms. Mowlam his top Northern Ireland official in 1997, paid tribute to “one of the most remarkable and colorful personalities ever to come into politics. Great company, utterly irreverent, full of life and fun.”

Famously informal, she kicked off her shoes in meetings, threw her wig — a product of her battle with a brain tumor — on the table at a moment of high tension and was caught on tape calling Sinn Fein negotiator Martin McGuinness ‘babe.’

Former President Clinton said Ms. Mowlam’s “persistence, toughness and good humor were legendary. … All of us who worked to support peace in Northern Ireland owe her our gratitude.”

Marjorie Mowlam — universally known as Mo — was one of Britain’s most popular politicians, admired for her willingness to speak frankly, her bravery in fighting the brain tumor and her role in Northern Ireland’s peace process.

Mo’s approachability was a function of her informality, humor, colorful personality and willingness to have fun and speak her mind. For those whose lives were affected by her work, she will be missed. But for those who didn’t know much about her (myself included), let’s take away a few tips about approachability from this great woman.


What other political figures exude approachability? Why?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

Not even the windy city can blow this nametag away

Whenever I travel for the weekend I always remember to bring plenty of extra nametags. And not just my typical half-dozen pre-mades that say “Scott,” but lots of blank nametags too, for those who wish to partake. (Along with a big fat Sharpie.)

But after 1,748 days, I’ve learned that different cities respond to nametags in different ways. This past Saturday after the Cardinals won their only game of the Cubs series (sniff), my brother and I celebrated at a local bar chock full of St. Louis fans. To my surprise, I noticed at least 15 different people wearing nametags that read such slogans as “From the Lou and Proud,” “St. Louis Fan,” and “Go Cards!” So not only were they wearing nametags, but they were fellow St. Louisans too! I hugged all of them.

Later that night I joined a group of people at a local Irish pub called PJ Clark’s. Because I only knew 2 of the people in the group, everybody wanted nametags. (Good thing I brought extras!) So of course, I passed a few out. And you know, after 5 years, people still can’t believe that I keep extra nametags and a pen with me at all times. Hey, why not? I was a boy scout once…

Then came the highlight of the weekend. It was 3:00 AM. The bars were closed, the cabbies were circling, and there was only one place left to go: The Weiner Circle. I’d heard about this place from my brother many times. Apparently it was the only hotdog stand in the world that was open till 4 AM, made the best cheese fries and cheddar dogs in the city and was run by 8 of the crudest, rudest and most vulgar women you’ve ever met in your life.

You’ve got to act mean and talk some smack to those girls, my brother reminded me. So just yell your order as loud as you can and be prepared to be insulted.

What? Be mean to a complete stranger? But I couldn’t do that – it’s not in my nature!

I found myself cramped under a tiny awning surrounded by dozens of drunken hotdog lovers yelling obscenities at the top of their lungs. People pushed and shoved. Money and ketchup were everywhere. Wow, this wasn’t going to be easy, I thought. Better resort to some creative tactics.

I whipped out a blank nametag and a pen. I wrote “Cheddar Dog!!” in thick letters.

“NEXT!!” the woman yelled.

And I just stood there, holding this nametag up in the air with a giant smile on my face. The guy next to me probably thought I was a crazy – or a cop. The woman behind the counter squinted through the window as she read the order printed on my nametag.

She responded by flipping me the bird (with both hands) and walked away.

My poor heart nearly broke. How rude! I said. But I guess that’s just how they do business at Weiner Circle. Still, I maintained my smile and continued to hold up the nametag for my Cheddar Dog. About 10 seconds later the same woman who’d previously offered me some valuable sexual advice looked back at my nametag. She re-read the order, noticed my ever present smile and busted out laughing. She shook her head, pointed at me and said, “You want pickles on that, Scott?”

It was the best hotdog I’ve ever eaten. And you better believe she got a great tip!

Unfortunately, the weekend wasn’t all smiles and snacks. Because the only thing worse than walking around the streets of Chicago wearing a Cardinals t-shirt after the Cubs took 3 out of 4 games in the series, was doing so while wearing a nametag.

This was one of the rare times when I said to myself, Man – I sure wish I wasn’t wearing this damn thing…

Cubs fans throughout the weekend offered friendly, sportsman-like comments such as:

  • “Hey Scott, go back to St. Louis!”
  • “So Scott, how much are the Cards gonna lose by today?”
  • “What, people from St. Louis can’t remember their own names?”
  • “It’s a long drive back to Missouri, Scott!”

    Hey, at least the Cardinals are above .500, are going to the playoffs this year and have won a world series since 1908. Take THAT, Windy City!


    Do you think sporting events create or discourage friendliness among fans?

    * * * *
    Scott Ginsberg
    Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

  • Does online social networking actually work?

    I get invites to LinkedIn all the time. People talk about Friendster like it was God’s gift to online social networking.

    But do they really work?

    There’s a great article in Pyschology Today about this…

    “An important part of real networking is vouching for somebody who is introduced,” explains Heath. “By automatizing that process, you make it less effective.” While the sites may speed up connections, the ease of adding “friends” to your online circle makes the quality of those links dubious. The genre is also rife with exploitation and fraud. Some Friendster members claim tens of thousands of “friends”; others devise fake profiles like “Pure Evil.” Invitations to join Orkut are already being auctioned on eBay. “All this suggests it’s a game people are playing,” says Columbia University sociologist Duncan Watts, author of Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age.


    How have online social networks affected your business and/or personal life?

    * * * *
    Scott Ginsberg
    Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

    Are you different or unique?

    Different is not the same as unique.

    The word different is defined as “unlike” or “unusual,” and it comes from the Latin differre, or “to set apart, differ.”

    Now, the word unique means something…well…different. (Ha ha.) It’s defined as “the only one,” and comes from the Latin unicus, or “single, sole.” And according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word unique also evolved to mean “remarkable or uncommon.”

    This reminds me of what Tom Robbins (my favorite fiction author) said about the word unique in his novel Even Cowgirls Get The Blues.

    “The popular usage of this word annoying in the extreme. In essence, popular culture has co-opted the word ‘unique’ to be used as a hyped-up version of ‘unusual,’ a usage that is, in fact, thoroughly at odds with the word’s actual meaning. Unique is unique. Period. Never ‘more unique’ or ‘most unique.’ Just, ‘unique.’ As in one-of-a-kind, without compare, entirely original, etc. Something is either unique, or it is not. Uniqueness is not a measurable quantity that a thing can have more or less of than some other thing. There are no degrees of uniqueness. It’s a binary characteristic — for a given object/person/idea/whatever, it is either true or false exclusively.”

    When I facilitate workshops with businesspeople and especially youth, I spend a good chunk of time focusing on these ideas. And it’s amazing to hear people’s answers to this question:


    Why are you unique?

    * * * *
    Scott Ginsberg
    Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

    5 Exercises to Enhance Your Personal Expertise

    Personal Self-Expertise is a front porch for two reasons: 1) It equips you with the confidence of knowing exactly who you are; and 2) It magnetizes others to you because they admire and respect those who know exactly who they are.

    (Read the first article in this series here.)

    Here are 12 exercises that will help you enhance your self-expertise.

    101 Goals
    Make a list of 101 Goals for the next year. Any kind of goals can apply: business, personal, financial, athletic or romantic. Make some big and some small. And be sure to write them down on one sheet of paper so you can keep it with you. Take as much time as you need, too. This is not an easy exercise and it may take a few weeks.

    Now, not only is this an effective goal setting technique, but when you’ve completed your list, ask yourself this: what patterns do I see among my goals? Are they all related to business? Are they all related to material things? Are they concrete goals or abstract goals? It’ll blow your mind! And this exercise will provide tremendous insight into what you value and therefore contribute to your self-expertise.

    101 Things That Make Me Happy
    Lists allow us to easily put information which belongs together in one place. They don’t prioritize, segment, or bias any one item; but rather allow us to simply get it all down on paper – and sometimes that’s the most important part of learning. In this exercise, you will start to see commonalities of certain things that make you happy. Yet again, further insight into the person you really are.

    25 Of Your Greatest Accomplishments
    Not only will this exercise put you in a great mood, but it will demonstrate your talents and passions. For example, if all of your accomplishments are related to helping others, that says something about your character. If all of your accomplishments are financial, it says another. List and learn!

    Most people have certain philosophies and theories about life, business and relationships; but few people write them down. So take some time one Saturday or Sunday, go to the park, and organize your thoughts. Think of yourself as a famous philosopher who is writing his manifesto about life. Now, you don’t actually have to write the whole thing out, but list several key areas of life along with which rules, theories or philosophies you adhere to in order to become successful. You never know, you may be the next great thinker! And you’ll also be surprised at how easy it is to organize your ideas once you do so visually.

    The Roof Is On Fire
    Ask yourself this question: if your house was on fire and you were only allowed to go back and grab one thing, what would you choose?

    Let’s say your answer was pictures. Good. Now, dig deeper and think about what that means: are you family oriented? Do you place great value on memories? Are you a materialistic person?

    Ok, I just realized this post is getting kinda long! For several other exercises to enhance your personal expertise, check out this new article.


    What do you do to become an expert on yourself?

    * * * *
    Scott Ginsberg
    Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag

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