The year was 1886 when Richard Sears left his job as a railroad station agent to open up R.W. Sears Watch Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His plan of action revolved around selling mail order watches. I’m a bit of a watch guy so I like to bone up on some of that history.
As it happens, I was reading a book that has a small blurb on this company. If the owner of this company’s name doesn’t ring a bell, it will.
A year later Richard teamed up with Alvah Roebuck who was hired as the company’s official repairman. Add an additional year and you have their first catalogue printed and sent throughout rural America. It contained watches, jewelry, diamonds, etc. with one big caveat. The ever so wonderful Money Back Guarantee. Richard saw the importance of protecting his customers from shady door to door salesmen by adding this guarantee, and he meant it. He wanted the trust of his clients and he gave them a reason to trust him. In my opinion that was a damn good idea, even though now contracts work better than someone’s word. Kind of sad really.
Now, I’m not going to give a full history of the Sears, Roebuck, and Co. Email me if you want to discuss that further.
What I am driving at is that one man had a vision. He took three steps to create an empire.
- Sell watches and jewelry through the mail.
- Establish trust from the rural communities that were his main client base, mainly to deter the unscrupulous traveling swindler/salesman.
- A catalogue was created to be sent showcasing and telling exactly how to buy his products. The Sears catalogue did just that by being mailed out to rural areas. That might actually be one of the first direct mail campaigns!
These 3 steps are just as important today as they were in 1888, though not exactly the same. Let’s take a second and breakdown these three steps and strip them of Richard Sears’ particulars.
- Be clear and concise about what you offer.
- Show the people why they should do business with you.
- Tell the people how they can start working with you.
Those 3 steps are so incredibly important in marketing. Yup, that’s what this is all about, marketing. By following these 3 steps Richard Sears created an empire that lasted well over a hundred years. That simple catalogue grew from a few pages up to 507 pages by 1895 and was up to 1555 pages in the last edition, which was in 1993. Hell, you could even order a mail order house through the Sears catalogue and believe it or not, but some of those houses are still standing.
Transparency in what you do is extremely valuable. You don’t have to use a bunch of fancy jargon to get your point across. You don’t need a beautifully shot video of a family running and playing on the beach then sitting down to eat to sell herpes medicine. I apologize if that offends anyone, but it perfectly illustrates my point. Time and money can be saved through transparency, honesty, and integrity. It could also take your business from a tiny little commercial space to a skyscraper or, even better, the Bahama’s sipping Mai Tai’s.
Wouldn’t that be nice?
William Danger Kirk