Don’t Propose on the First Date

Don’t Propose on the First Date

I was chatting with a friend who was in the ad agency business at one time. He was hugely successful. For the most part, we had lost touch, but he still received these TMCs and responded to one a while back.  I was reading through some old emails recently and found it. I asked for his permission to share it with you because I think it is a great story and message. The “names have been changed to protect the innocent!” (Note that the story experience was pre-pandemic though the story was shared with me during the pandemic.) Enjoy!

I had left agency life and was working as a marketing consultant for a dental supply company. I’d work in tandem with the sales reps and would visit offices to help them introduce marketing strategies while the sales reps sold their widgets.

 Most dental offices had a similar DNA of 1 “main” dentist who was in their 50s, and a young associate new to the practice. These associates were fresh out of dental school and all of them were eager to make a name for themselves. Many of them would do that by getting a high-end car. Even if it was a low model, an entry level 3-series BMW was better than no BMW. From personal experience, I could vouch for how the magic of a BMW happens behind the wheel, and I had a lightbulb moment.

 I called a local BMW dealership (Descente BMW) and set up a meeting with the GM.

 In this meeting, I explained how “butts in seats” was where the magic happens with a BMW, and how all these young professionals are so eager to make their mark, and they’re tripping over themselves to lease a luxury car. What if we didn’t wait until they came to the dealership? What if we brought the dealership to them—right there on campus, right outside their classroom building? Set up a test drive circuit for them to fall in love with BMWs during their final years of school, ensuring a BMW from this specific dealership is now the only option for them.

 Not only that, but we could use this same idea downtown where young executives are busy and don’t have time to visit the dealership. Let’s bring the cars to them and set up lunch hour test drives right in the downtown core. Set up a parade of top end BMWs and let anyone in a suit take them for a rip around the block.

 The GM sat back with his toothpick and gently nodded his head, all while I was wetting myself from excitement. This was going to be my way into automotive marketing. YES! I left that meeting feeling great. My idea would surely be a home run and they’d hire me as a marketing manager.

 Days went by, then weeks, and all my follow-ups were falling on deaf ears. Then about a month later, after realizing maybe this was all going nowhere, I heard a radio ad for the “Descente Detour,” explaining how they’d be downtown every Friday all summer long for test drives of their high end brands—cue the record scratch audio effect. I had been played. I proposed on the first date. I didn’t leave them wanting more. I just showed up and left a diamond ring on the desk.

 I still use this life lesson as fuel to never give my best ideas away BEFORE a prospect is a client. There’s a fine line between showing value and giving your ideas away. Even though this was over a decade ago, the lesson has been invaluable.

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