I remember my university days fondly. It was during this time that I started to develop my entrepreneurial and selling abilities. Every Saturday and Sunday I used to wake up early and pack my wares into my VW Golf and head to my allocated stall at the flea-market.
I used to sell ties, caps, and T-shirts. There was a lot of competition and getting people’s attention was always a marketing challenge.
Soon into my flea market selling adventure inspiration struck. I went to the hardware store and bought some hardboard or Masonite as I think it is also called. It was about 1.5 meters in length and about 50 cm high. I then painted this rectangle white and made 2 little holes in each top corner. I had some elementary MacGyver moments and constructed some simple hanging mechanism that allowed me to hang this rectangular sign on 2 wooden dowels that were attached each week to my mom’s portable washing line, with rubber bands, and the sign could then hang freely for all to see. The washing hanging contraption is where the ties would rest, and people would come and browse and chat with me, and sales were made.
Then came the advertising slogan. I must have gone through about a dozen of those black thick permanent marker pens to carefully draw the catch phrase, and the end result was that I was ready for business. The sign was going to create some buzz.
This sign was my first attempt at advertising and it did a lot to attract potential customers.
This is what that sign shouted out each and every weekend:
The ties were cool. And some of them were bright and colourful. A man can never have enough ties. Especially sexy ties.
Car adverts and alcohol promotions have all used this to gain attention. Yes, the sign was not only about “sex” but it was blatant and effective. And if I may say so myself, it was also very very funny.
“SEXy ties” is what the sign said. People would see the “sex” word and stroll across the flea market and giggle. “Ah, sexy ties … very funny.” I would give many folk a high five.
Of course, not everyone would feel comfortable to do something like this, but it was good, clean fun, and it worked.
I remember my one competitor, Lawrence. He was a better businessman than me, and way more sophisticated with his ties – he supplied some shops and had reps on the road selling. I was only doing this on the weekends but to Lawrence this was his career. I remember him well – he was a very cool guy – I liked him a lot. We became friends, but that was a lifetime ago and I have not seen him in years. We are connected on Facebook, but that’s it… and that is a whole other story. Lawrence was way ahead of me, but he never had a SEXy sign. He always used to smile when he saw my crazy advert flapping in the breeze. And it did get people coming over and then I could chat with them and try and make sales.
Google is a sexy company. Apple too. And it is not only because they are high-tech firms. The image they project, the innovations they drive, the philosophies they share… all of these play on our imaginations. We have all used this word “sexy” to describe something or someone that has appeal. Sexy is a metaphor for so many things. And many entrepreneurs aspire to creating sexy companies. Sex is with us, in everything we do. It is a part of life. And it can be fun too. Selling those ties took a lot of waking up early, every weekend, but it was a lot of fun, and it was rewarding.
Sometimes we need to be bold and just have fun. Of course, no one likes exploitation and when things are done in bad taste it can backfire. But, never forget that laughter is the best icebreaker and most people enjoy a good chuckle. So have more fun and don’t be afraid to push the envelope. Be sexy – be real – be adventurous. The English language is overflowing with opportunities to use words to our advantage. Embrace it.