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Leadership Conference: Value Precedes Influence
Tuesday, July 21, 2015 6:30 AM

Ty Bennett

By Ty Bennet, Speaker and Author

Ty Bennet, closing speaker for the 2015 Leadership Conference and Expo in San Antonio, Texas, Sept. 10-12, speaks a lot about the power of relationships. He's even written a book called The Power of Influence where he shares his philosophies and tools for increasing one's influence and impact as a leader. Bennet shares a story that illustrates the concepts he ascribes to in his teachings.

In the 1940’s, a small boutique financial services firm was just beginning to finally see a bit of success. They had started out when two people came together with the hope of creating something great. They decided to add someone to their marketing department, and found a guy named Charles Engle, a journalist who was working as the editor of a start-up magazine and discovered that he loved advertising and marketing more than he loved journalism. So when this new job opportunity came up, Engle accepted. He did not have much experience, and they did not have much money—perfect fit.

Engle begins his job and looks at what they are doing when it comes to marketing. Now at that time you have to remember how financial services worked. Stock brokers knew things that most of the rest of the world did not. That’s how they liked it. They didn’t want people to understand the stock market; they wanted to be the sole owners of that information. They wanted to be unique at a commodity so that people had to come to them for their knowledge and expertise.

Most of the ads that were run at the time were pretty straight forward; a couple hundred words, like “come straight to us if you want to make money, we will help you invest in the stock market.” Just a straight forward pitch. And Charles Engle asked, “How can we add value? How can we give them value in this ad?”

He went to his bosses and said, “Look, what if we shared valuable information? What if we taught people about the stock market?”

His bosses didn’t get it and thought he was crazy. “Why would you want to do that?” His response was, "If we give them value, we invest in them; then they will want to invest in us.”

Charles wanted to show his bosses what he meant so he wrote up an ad. They read it and said, “There is some really good information here, but are we giving away too much?” His reply was, “The more you give away, the more they are going to want.”

They decided to run the ad. The ad was 6,500 words, like a short eBook today, so it was a huge ad. Within a week that ad produced 3,000 leads.

Now, that is not in the time we live in today where it’s a hyperlink click on your iPhone. Here is what the results of that ad looked like: you read it in the newspaper, cut it out, went home, filled out the form, put it in an envelope, put a stamp on it, took it to the post office, and sent it in. That’s the kind of lead response it was. They got 3,000 leads!

Over the next five years, that ad produced more than 5 million leads and turned that little boutique financial services firm into the company you and I know as Merrill Lynch.

That happened because Charles Engle understood that value precedes influence. Because Charles Engle understood that when you invest in people, people want to invest in you. And because, ultimately, Charles Engle understood something that was as true in the 1940’s as it is today. Business is about relationships.

Ty Bennett is a speaker you'll want to hear more from, and you can see him in person at the 2015 Leadership Conference and Expo, Sept. 10-12, in San Antonio, Texas.

Learn more about the Leadership Conference and Expo.