Is Your Message a Painkiller?

Sandlot with Benny "The Jet" RodriguezThe advent of summer meant baseball, beach, and crew-cuts. We sat inline in green leather chairs at the barbershop waiting for a promise that outweighed our disdain for the assembly line head shave. The insult was followed by the injury of a burning slap on the neck with the green tinted alcohol combs were cleaned in.

Most of us hated the crew-cut look and experience. The whip on the neck with a towel full of talcum powder was not the painkiller. My father’s promise that crew-cuts would make me run faster took the sting away. That conspiratorial pitch must have been handed down for generations; one smart marketer took advantage of that promise.

In the 50s and 60s, there were three major brands of sneakers, Keds, Converse, and PF Flyers. Keds were the everyday non-jock variety. Converse, named Chucks for the All-Star basketball player Charles H. “Chuck” Taylor, was the professional sneaker stumped by top athletes the way Nike does today. But PF Flyers promised what every dreamy eyed aspiring jock wanted.

“PF Flyers make you run faster and jump higher.”

If you haven’t seen Sandlot, it’s a movie about summer friends playing baseball, swimming, and hanging out in the early 60s.  Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez is the local future superstar ballplayer and fastest kid in the neighborhood. In the climactic running chase scene, Benny pulls out the secret weapon – a box of new PF Flyers.

Wearing Converse identified kids with their favorite athletes, but PF Flyers’ promise of running faster had kids jumping through hoops to own them. I don’t know if the crew-cut and sneakers made me run faster or if it was just the belief that they did, but I bought into both and it worked.  

The promise we make as sales and marketing people dictates the reception of our offering. One commom resistance in every purchase decision is the stinging pain of change.

Are you selling a hair cut that stings or are you helping your customers run faster and jump higher than their competition?