Boom Box (Issue 1139)

In which are reminded that, first, we have to attract prospects’ attention.

On weekend mornings, I like to get out for a walk, usually by 8:00 am, sometimes earlier, sometimes not. I like to look around. I like to think. Many weekends, I’ll walk through Harvard Square. At that time on a Saturday morning, the Square can be quiet. The students are asleep. The rough sleepers are still asleep. Most of the stores and restaurants are closed.

One Saturday morning last Fall, I was a little late getting out. 10:00 am. I walked past the Bank of America and Santander bank branches, the Harvard Coop, and the recently opened Joe’s Pizza, and crossed the street, heading toward the Charles River, completely “lost in my own thoughts”.

But, as I crossed the street, I heard familiar music. I looked up. Just ahead of me, standing just outside a burrito shop, I saw three burly guys with a boombox. They were gently bumping and swaying to the music. I recognized the music but didn’t give it any thought. I looked down and started to accelerate between the dancing burlies.

“Hey, name the song, get a free burrito!”, one shouted.

I stopped. I REALLY wanted to keep walking but I knew I knew the song and the band and I could even get close to the year… but I couldn’t think of the title.

“It’s the Doobie Brothers.”

“Yeah, yeah, ya got that right.”

Long pause.

“Ah, he doesn’t know, doesn’t know, he doesn’t know.”

“Without Love” I blurted out.

“That’s right! You got it!!! Step inside and have a free breakfast burrito!”

I smiled, said thanks, declined the burrito, and kept walking. Felt pretty good about naming the song…

…which stuck with me for a while as I walked. I had to stop and look it up. Turns out, it’s actually called “Long Train Running” and I think the three guys would have offered the free burrito whether I named the song correctly or not. And I remember the moment, the three guys, the song, and the burrito shop SEVEN MONTHS LATER. Whenever I hear the song, I think of them.

Why? I found a terrific short Harvard Business Review article – “7 Ways to Attract Someone’s Attention”. Turns out they used four of them: Sensory cues (music, dancing), disruption (loud music in a quiet Square, asking a completely unexpected question), reward (the free burrito), and uncertainty (can he name the song?).

“Yah, but have you bought a burrito there?”

The train is still out on that one.

Nick Miller is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. He assists banks and credit unions to generate more and more profitable relationships, faster, with business clients, their owners, and their employees through better sales strategies and execution. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.

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