Life Lessons: Word of Mouth Advertising and The Law of 250

by John Zajaros on June 12, 2010

Life Lessons: Word of Mouth Advertising Going Strong After 4 Decades
The Lesson of Jack Palmer and Chuck Christian

My little dog, TuffGuy, and I were out for our usual midnight walk last night. We started last summer, a way to get back into shape, lose some weight (both of us), and overcome the chronic back pain and sciatica I had endured for many years. TuffGuy and I walked last year until the snow fell; it was a very enjoyable routine. We stopped, mainly because the salt and ice hurt his paws. TuffGuy would have continued, just as dogs will walk with their masters in the hot summer sun until they fall over dead of heat exhaustion, too loyal and too happy for the time together to quit. I have always thought of that as the most powerful example of unconditional love I have every heard of. For that reason I am well aware of how far dogs will push themselves beyond the pain barrier, just to be with their masters, so I am very careful with ours.

We also stopped because people don’t shovel their sidewalks anymore. In fact, I believe the failure to shovel your sidewalk, while seemingly very insignificant, is really a symptom of the fact that neighbors and neighborhoods aren’t connected. In fact, we aren’t even neighbors and there aren’t neighborhoods any more, just people living next door or in the area. Yes, there are exceptions but for the most part, the “village” is long gone. Perhaps everyone is inside tweeting? For whatever the reason, “neighbors” have, as a general rule, ceased to care about the residents on either side of them.

So, why bother!

Anyway, when I lost my walking buddy, my accountability partner, as I call him, it just wasn’t as much fun. When the fun went out of it, I just stopped, not willing to risk the sidewalks and the ice…not after 15 major surgeries on my neck, back, and shoulder.

No way!

So, when the weather started to get nice again, I got the itch. I also felt the waistline on my pants a bit more than I wanted to. Then, my daughter said TuffGuy was starting to look like a sausage!

Well, offend me but never my dog!

Consequently, TuffGuy and I were right back at it, saying hello to all the doormen in front of the bars along Detroit Ave; and, all as if we hadn’t missed a beat. I am always greeted with a friendly smile and a kind word but it is TuffGuy that gets the bulk of the attention:

“Hey! TuffffGuuuyyy!”

Is the standard greeting from the doormen.

“Awwww isn’t he cute!”

Comes from the pretty girls.

He, of course, wants nothing to do with them but they all want to pet him.

Now, if I were a 20 something single guy…..

Need I say more?

TuffGuy is what we used to so inappropriately call a “chick magnet” back in the day. In fact, he works better than any Corvette I have ever owned or been seen in! Often on Detroit Ave when I was growing up.

Life Lesson: If you’re a single guy and want to meet pretty girls?

Get a cute little dog and go for walks on any street in America like Detroit Ave. Detroit Avenue is safe, has lots of bars and pizza joints, and lots of pretty girls! Oh to be 20 something again.

Not on your life!

So, 500 words later I get to the main Life Lesson? Not quite but almost. Better late then never, as my mom would always say when I walked in late for dinner:

“John Patrick!”

Or, if I was really in the dog house:

“John Patrick Jude Zajaros!!”

Then I knew it was all over for the evening…or the week.

Grounded!

So anyway, I was walking with TuffGuy and I started to catch up with this older gentleman and his rather huge dog. The older gentleman was not small either. In fact, he was about 6’4” and probably weighed in at about 225lbs. Not a small guy!

Big, bald, and he seemed to be slowing down?

I started to slow down too! I walk for solitude and to listen to my audiobooks. I didn’t want to get stuck, I wanted to go about my routine. Besides, you never know with people and especially people with dogs, big dogs. I have run into all kinds on our walks; and, so has TuffGuy.

Additionally, dogs can be funny, you just never know how they’re going to react with other dogs or with strange people. Dogs are kind of like people in that way, I suppose, situationally unpredictable. You see, I know this from watching TuffGuy. We have plenty of experience with all the people who want to pet him on our walks and they just assume he will let them. Well, he doesn’t go for it at all; and is, in fact, very stand-offish.

But when it comes to other dogs? TuffGuy doesn’t know he’s ¾ Pug and ¼ Beagle, he thinks because he looks like a miniature Bull Mastiff he is one! Consequently, TuffGuy sees another dog, he wants to do the dog thing and check him or her out…preferably her!

Life Lesson: A male is a male is a male!

Well, TuffGuy and this man seemed to be thinking the same thing, bent on meeting, so I relented and we caught up.

The dogs did their doggy thing, sniffed, wagged their tails, and generally had a good old time. It was fun to watch them make nice for a while. The Big Guy and I started to talk and walk and do the guy thing, sans the waging of the tails!

Everything seemed to be OK!

Turns out the Big Guy’s name was Chuck Christian and he usually walks his dog earlier in the evening. I walked TuffGuy a bit earlier than usual, it was such a nice night and I wanted to get out. Because Chuck was walking Beast a bit later than usual, we ran into each other.

And no, his dog’s name isn’t Beast, I just never got his name and it seemed to fit the story and the Big Guy. I’ll get it next time…promise!

So, Beast it is!

Anyway, Chuck told me he lived down the street, had for 40 years. Seems he bought his house from a guy by the name of Jack Palmer.

“Do you know Jack?” he asked me.

“Well,” he went on, “Jack Palmer is the most honest man in Lakewood. That house was in need of a lot when we moved in, bunch a bikers had lived there and the lady who owned it wanted them out. I had a friend and he told me to see Jack Palmer and no one else, that Jack Palmer is the most honest guy I’d ever meet. And he was right! Jack Palmer is the most honest man I have ever dealt with!”

Chuck Christian went on to tell me a bit more about himself and the house, where his son lived, and some additional things about his life, but he kept coming back to “Jack Palmer, the most honest man, a great man!”

It seems that Chuck had also seen TuffGuy and I before, at the metro parks dog park, so we talked about that for a while, and walked.

Back to the Life Lesson

Now, the fact that Chuck Christian knew Jack Palmer as “the most honest man he had ever dealt with” wasn’t what intrigued me most, although it was certainly enough to consider calling Jack if I was ever in need of another property, it was how long it had been since Chuck had purchased the house from Jack and how many people Chuck has told that story to over the past 40 years!

Imagine that for a moment!

One man, happily talking about a great and “honest” guy by the name of Jack Palmer for 40 years. Get that? Chuck is still talking about his “friend” 40 years after he has done business with him.

If ever there was an example of Girard’s Law of 250 I was witnessing it firsthand!

You see, according to Girard’s Law of 250, everyone has in his or her sphere of influence 250 people. Everyone has 250 people they know well enough and have enough influence over that they will show up at their wake or funeral when they pass away. It is anecdotal but it makes sense. Funeral directors, as a rule, order 250 cards for the passing of most people because they have discovered over the years that 250 people will pay their last respects.

The beginnings of the Law of 250!

Interestingly, Joe Girard heard this and took it another step. If you alienate one person a day and that person has a sphere of influence of 250 people…

…and so on…and so….and so on…

In a year you would have enough people to fill the Giant’s Stadium or Yankee Stadium, all screaming “Don’t buy from “(insert name here)!”

Powerful marketing lesson!

Significantly, let’s look at the reverse scenario:

Chuck Christian has been telling people about his “honest” friend Jack Palmer for 40 years! Not just his immediate sphere of influence, they have probably heard it until they, Chuck, and everyone else are blue in the face. It’s the other people he tells, complete strangers on his walk with Beast every day, that’s the kicker!

That is not only a marketing lesson, that is a…Yup!

Life Lesson!

If he just tells one person each and every day for 365 days over for 40 years? That’s 14,600 people who have all heard that Jack Palmer is the most honest guy in the world to deal with, in any profession.

Let’s apply Girard’s Law to that and say that each of those people knows 250 people and not do the whole Breck thing or we will be at it all night.

3,650,000 people!

That’s a LIFE LESSON!

If he gets a .01% response from the Law of 250 he sells 365 homes over his lifetime thanks to one man…Chuck Christian!

That’s 3,650,000 x .0001

Interestingly, and this is the 40 million dollar question:

How many Chuck Christians do you know and do business with day in and day out? And, more significantly, which side of the equation are you on?

There are only two:

1) That SOB or the Bleeping Company, I’ll never buy anything else from him (them) as long as I live, he (they) is (are) the most dishonest (disreputable) guy (company) on the planet!

2) Or, That (insert name here), he (or she or they) is (are) the most honest man (or woman or company) on (insert city, town, or village) planet!

Ultimately, it is a choice, which side of the equation you and/or your company will be on in this.

But one thing is absolutely certain, the ultimate Life Lesson:

This world is shrinking and with it the room to run, to start over, or to repair or rebuild a soiled reputation.

The Law of 250 and The Jack Palmer Lesson are one in the same and, if you don’t think so, you have a rude awakening around the bend because the world is a very small place, for anyone or any company!

John Zajaros
216-712-7004
johnz@johnzajaros.com

PS, I will share some horror stories that I have had and others that have been shared with me, not to soil anyone’s reputation but to forewarn those who are not the most honest, the most reputable, before they fall victim to individuals or companies who feel there is an unending supply of clients and all they have to do is run more, bigger, and louder ads. Not any more!

PPS, If you doubt the power of one person to make a difference? Google “Dell Hell” and you will get 164,000 resulting web pages and it all started with one angry individual who couldn’t get his laptop serviced and was “mad has hell and not going to take it any more!” Or just check out Randy Cassingham’s awesome blog “This is True!” It will wake you up to what one person with a voice can do…and anyone can develop a voice online!

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