What’s Your “Speakunique”©?

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Are You Selling Whackadoos


To Nursing Home Residents?


     There I sat, 23 year-old hot-shot ad agency guy, at the fancy New York City restaurant lunch table between Richard Gelb, then the president of Clairol, and Charles Revson, then the president of Revlon… both men at least twice my age and light-years beyond my dreams of wealth. 

     Considering the extent of business and fashion industry clout at each of my elbows, I was about as close as one can get to being a total nervous wreck.

     My boss, who’d been suddenly placed on the DL that morning, asked me to fill in and represent the ad agency’s interests in establishing some vague, centralized public relations program for the HBA (Health & Beauty Aids) market that we hoped would involve both their companies.

     “Speak unique, Son,” I was told about 90 seconds into my awkward spiel, after stuttering and sputtering out some feeble explanation about what I do for a living, and what the purpose of my insignificant presence with them was all about.

     In other words, the Clairol man was asking me to get to the point, cut to the chase, not beat around the bush, spit it out! What’s your frame of reference, he asked. Who’s your market, he asked. I stammered even more.

     “Well,” I improvised, “considering that your two companies sell the most hair coloring…” CRUNCH! The Revlon man’s fist hit the table hard enough to rattle the bluepoint oyster shells. “Son, we don’t sell hair coloring. We sell the promise of sex to single, young girls. And don’t you forget it!”

     I never forgot.

     What do YOU sell? Are you sure? Knowing unequivocally what you’re selling and to whom — straight out, without elaborate, politically-correct, marketingese language — will keep your business on course and your sales focus front and center.

     Famous for its (truly outstanding!) “Artisan Bread,”the ACE Bakery in Toronto, Ontario Canada www.acebakery.com sells the “promise of every employee” that the bread is their very best quality using only the best natural ingredients, AND that they are committed to a sense of social responsibility for the community that supports them. ACE donates a percentage of pre-tax profits to local charitable organizations, targeting especially food and nutrition programs for low-income neighbors. 

     What is YOUR business known for? What are YOU doing about it? How are YOU representing it? DO YOU “SPEAKUNIQUE”?

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2 comments so far

2 Comments to “What’s Your “Speakunique”©?”

  1. Meredith Bellon 01 Feb 2010 at 11:40 pm

    What a profound lesson, Hal, and the story is told so well. I love that – “SPEAKUNIQUE” – and will keep that in mind every time I’m writing anything about my company and its products. Thanks for this critical reminder. It’s burned into my brain because of the powerful personal experience you shared. Thanks, as always, for your keen business insights.


    Warmest wishes,

    Meredith Bell, President
    Performance Support Systems, Inc.
    11838 Rock Landing Drive, Suite 130
    Newport News, VA 23606
    800-488-6463, or 757-873-3700, ext. 201

    Read encouragements on my blog:

  2. Hal Alpiaron 01 Feb 2010 at 11:44 pm

    Thanks as always, Meredith, for your kind comments and ongoing support. I am always so cheered to see your input here and appreciate greatly that you take the time and trouble to visit and post here. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Best always – Hal

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