Everything I Know About Marketing I Learned From My Nametag

I’ve been wearing a nametag for four thousand consecutive days.

More importantly, I’ve turned that quest into a career as a writer, publisher, speaker, consultant and artist.

In the process, I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons. From my monthly column on American Express Open Forum, here are a few to consider: 1. It’s not a nametag – it an advertisement. I used to think advertising was cool. When I was a kid, my favorite hobby was perusing and analyzing the pullout ads from Saturday morning newspaper. Then I went to business school. And I learned that advertising is a disrespectful, ugly form of pollution. Then I started my own company. And I learned that advertising is the price that companies pay for not having enough friends.

Years later, I came to a conclusion: We don’t need more advertisements – we need acts that create emotional connections. Simple, inclusive, accessible, relevant and human encounters that change the momentary experience of engaging with your brand. Another reason I love nametags. Instead of interrupting – I’m interacting. Instead of demanding attention – I’m offering permission. Instead of bothering people into buying from me – I’m allowing them to target me. Is your marketing like that?

2. It’s not a nametag – it’s attention. When I attend classes, teachers call on me more. When I take yoga, instructors adjust my posture more. When I dine out, waiters seat me quicker, treat me nicer and serve me faster. This is not an accident. I’m just slightly more memorable than the average person. And as a result, I earn more attention than most. The nametag builds novelty, overrides people’s native defenses, breaks the ice, creates a smile in the mind and tickles the eye. It reduces psychological distance, expedites familiarity, pampers people’s memories, creates a human connection and accelerates intimacy.

It’s a social object. And every day it makes another deposit in my attention account. Do I wear a nametag for attention? You’re damn right I do. Attention is the great commodity. It’s the scarcest resource we have. How do you practice earning it every day?

3. It’s not a nametag – it’s engagement. I never leave the house without nametags. It’s my uniform. It’s my armor. Ever ready for battle. And everywhere I go, people ask me if they can have one. So I’m happy to pass them out to strangers, friends, random kids at the ballpark, whomever. I don’t discriminate. But I don’t pass them out to convert people – I pass them out to send a message: My brand is participatory.

Personally, I don’t care if people wear the nametags. A lot of them don’t. What matters is that they join me that spontaneous moment of authentic human interaction, infused with a sprit of humor, playfulness and connection. That’s my brand. And their life is better because of it. Truth is, brand perception hinges on human interaction. The only thing people can make a judgment about is how engaging with you makes them feel. And every encounter you have with another person either adds to – or subtracts from – its overall joinability. How do you induce participation?

4. It’s not a nametag – it’s execution. When people learn that I’ve made entire career out of wearing a nametag everyday, they often comment: “Damn it! Now why didn’t I think of that?” Wrong question. Because odds are, they probably did think of that. They just didn’t do anything about it. They forgot to attach action to the idea. It’s not about the idea – it’s about the “I did.”

Of course, people are too busy. Too busy being patient, waiting for permission, following rules, setting goals, fearing failure, planning, responding to useless distractions, listening to the wrong feedback, attending meetings, working with counterproductive teams, waiting until they’re ready, waiting until they know what they’re doing, waiting for perfection and wasting time with parade rainers. And that’s why nobody executes what matters.

Execution isn’t a skill – it’s a way of life. It’s a predisposition to action, an adamant refusal to stay where you are and an outright insistence on focusing on what’s most important to you. The world doesn’t need another idea guy. Ideas are free – only execution is priceless. Which are you focused on?

REMEMBER: We all wear nametags. Every day.

Your challenge is to figure out what’s written on yours.

What’s your nametag?

For a list called, “11 Ways to Out Google Your Competitors,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Publisher, Artist, Mentor

“I usually refuse to pay for mentoring. But after Scott’s first brain rental session, the fact that I had paid something to be working with him left my mind – as far as I was concerned, the value of that (and subsequent) exchange of wisdom and knowledge, far outweighed any payment.”

–Gilly Johnson The Australian Mentoring Center


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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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