The MOST important thing I learned in college.

written by john c ashworth

The MOST Important thing I learned in college

written by john c ashworth

I finished college a long time ago.  Although, I’m considering going back for my MBA.  That’s a story for a different day.

In my household recently, we’ve had quite a few discussions about the benefits and pitfalls of college.  My son Carl just finished his first semester at Madison College.  The local junior college.  A hidden gem.  A path most will ignore and dismiss and that could just be one of the smartest ways to begin your journey, especially financially, through higher education.  That’s a story for another day too, though. 

These recent discussions of college reminded me of something I learned in Junior College long ago and never forgot.  I consider it THE most valuable thing I learned while in college, including my time in graduate school.  Because it has to do with discovering something that serves life and career in innumerable ways.  You’ll see what I mean in just a moment…

It happened in a speech class.  One of my favorite classes of all time.  Taught by a magnificent instructor.  Second only to the english teacher I had that same year and whom we can thank for all this great writing that spills out of me today.  Literally, she taught me how to write.  I had graduated high school and had no clue. But boy could I run fast and get a soccer ball in the back of the net.

For his final speech and presentation, one of my fellow students decided to go out hitch-hiking and document his experience.  But he took it a few steps further.  He actually went out three different times, presenting himself in three different ways.

First, he dressed himself up as a student.  Backpack and all.

Second, he went as a hippie.

Third, he put on a suit, and carried a briefcase.

He stood in the same spot every time.

In each and every case, he was ultimately picked-up for a ride by drivers who were of the same group and mindset.  The hippies, of course, also offered him a joint after he got inside.  This was California after all.  The hippies were way ahead of their time 🙂

This reminded me of something else that advertising legend, David Ogilvey, once said in reference to the importance of your headline in your sales copy, and I think this story about my friend the hitch-hiker reveals its truth…

“The headline is the ‘ticket on the meat.’  Use it to ‘flag down’ readers who are prospects for the kind of product you are advertising.”

In the same way the hitch-hiker flagged down a different ride from a very different person or group of people each time, so must your headlines and your marketing do the same for you in your business; or in anything else in your life and career for which you need to build interest and gain sales or members or donations.

This amazing and revealing story from my speech class in junior college from way back in 1988, remains to this day to be a real life, working case study and example of just how important this idea really is when it comes to your marketing, copywriting and sales efforts.

Who are your trying to reach?

What do you need to say to them in order to stir their emotions and get them to take action and buy into to you?

How are you going to make this happen?

These questions are extremely important and valuable to the success of your small business and your career.  Most will ignore their weight and and continue to struggle.

What will you choose?


photo by john c ashworth
About the Author
John Ashworth is an empathetic sales leader with an incredibly diverse background as a salesman, business consultant, marketing maniac, writer, Dad and full time Bohemian Athlete. aka Johnny Renaissance.

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