Many decades ago, we sold the old Marliss grain drill. It was a pretty good no-till drill with sellable features and a few that needed some engineering help, as in all products. We, with the blessing of the company, kept a rental unit for demos and true rentals, with the agreement all rental money be paid in and applied to reduce the price of said drill. It worked well.
We sold drills and the reduced-price unit always had a waiting list of buyers. Marliss noticed the success and sent a freelance journalist down to do a story on an owner of one of their drills. The rep — Pat Patterson — suggested my dad as the best subject to be the endorser of his product. I immediately drew a deep breath. I have a lot of Dad's genes, and a lot of them are hardcore, negative attitude, spiral helix attached DNA crazy, but nothing like what ole Harold Hamton Brannon's genes contained.
Harold was a child of the depression, a barefoot Tennessee farm boy, a 50 caliber, Ma Duce machine gunner on a M3 Half-track in the 4th Armored Division of Patton's 3rd Army who spewed lead all over Europe. He could bite off a chaw of "Bull of the Woods" raw chewing tobacco and never miss a word in a sentence while doing it. He didn't mince words and didn't know how to tell a fib. This, was going to be good.
The young man arrived on dad's farm just in time to see him pull up with the drill — with a hose spewing oil. Hey, it made the paint look shiny new! As he took out the crescent wrenches to replace the rupture, the reporter and Pat started to ask questions. "How does the drill work?" Dad replied, "It don't most of the time."
"Uh, what about its no-till capabilities?" Dad: "Stays plugged up most of the time."
"Ok, what about the stand you get?" Dad: "Go too fast. It doesn't get covered. Too slow. You never get done."
The camera was shaking and the young writer was sweating and struggling to get a good picture and at least one positive quote to keep from getting fired. It wasn't happening. I could take no more. Wiping back tears of suppressed laughter, I handed the journalist a prepared statement I had written in anticipation of what I was witnessing. He read the paper out loud and ask if he could print this. Dad mumbled something about it was a pretty good drill, smiled for one picture, threw the hose he had been removing all the time in the pickup and headed off in a cloud of dust. That was my dad.
I had learned from some pretty good teachers about live interviews: don't do them. Walt Beucher wrote a great book "Plow Peddler" about the people who sold farm equipment in the early years. He wrote about an incident on live TV of a customer who misunderstood a question, got confused and told terrible tales about Walt's planter while looking into a camera and talking live on radio. Time was up before Walt could get the story straight. It was a disaster.
The fact that one never gets a second chance to make a good first impression has been stated many times. The lesson is, as we promote our products, let us get our purchases of time and ink "right." Think about what might go wrong in an advertising campaign and run it by some critics before spending the big bucks it costs nowadays. Someone said, "Half the dollars we spend in advertising are wasted. If we could figure out which half, we would be rich." Figuring is good.
'Til next time ... wishing you miles of smiles and profits.
Told from the perspective of an in-the-trenches owner/operator — Tim Brannon of B&G Equipment, Paris, Tenn. — Equipment Dealer Tips, Tales & Takeaways shares knowledge, experiences and tips/lessons with fellow rural equipment dealerships throughout North America. Covering all aspects required of an equipment dealership general manager, Brannon will inform, entertain and provide a teachable moment for current — and future — leaders within equipment dealerships.
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