A dog that sells

PepperI’m privileged to call Dr. Steve Taubman a friend. Dr. Steve is a motivational speaker, sales coach and magician par excellence. He also authors a cool blog and hosts a podcast that covers a vast array of topics and features a plethora of interesting guests.

One podcast, in fact, motivated me to write today’s blog. It’s entitled, ‘Sell Like a Dog’ and addresses how anyone who has anything to do with selling can learn something from the instinctive listening skills of the average canine.

I agree with Dr. Steve’s hypothesis, and am amazed to see how my own dogs have learned how to read me and my actions in order to make a sale (i.e. be fed a bone, walked, etc.). I also try to employ some of Dr. Steve’s listening and mirroring skills in client and prospect meetings. But, I must admit to also using a secret weapon: my firm’s name.

When we launched our company some 17 years ago, Ed and I agreed on just about everything but our name. We knew we didn’t want yet another Smith & Jones. But, we also didn’t want something obvious. Ed wanted to name us The Andover Group, since we began life in his squalid, one bedroom apartment in The Andover Building. But, having just left an ossified agency culture, I didn’t want to repeat the mistake by choosing a name that projected a stiff, conservative mindset. And, so I suggested we name the nascent business after my black lab, Pepper (pictured.) Ed wasn’t wild about it. Nor was his wife, Pamela McFall Moed, who put up with the messy work environment we’d created in her home.

As it turned out, though, the name became a multimillion dollar surprise.

Initially, it attracted all of the go-go dotcom ventures who incorrectly assumed we knew all there was to know about The Information Superhighway because of the com in our name. We didn’t. But, we sure learned fast. And, then we learned just as quickly to rebrand ourselves as anything but a dotcom agency after the bubble burst in April of 2000.

What has remained a constant, though, is the affinity that clients, prospects and recruits have had for my dog, Pepper. I cannot tell how many times I’ve heard the following words:
-    “I had to include any agency that was named after a dog in my search for  PR firm.”
-    “I love the fact that you named your agency after your dog, and decided I need to work at Peppercom.”
-    “I have a black lab and his name is Pepper.”

The name not only differentiated us from competitors but, critically, enabled us to build immediate rapport. And, how many corporate ID/branding firms can lay claim to that accomplishment?

Of course, there is the dark side of the Peppercom name. Many call us Peppercorn instead. The vendors who make the mistake more than once are quickly shown the door. And, then there was the memorable new business pitch in which the receptionist announced over an office-wide loudspeaker system: “The Leppercom people have arrived!” Good lord, I thought, is my heat rash that pronounced?

Nowadays, every sales person needs every advantage possible to maintain existing business while attracting new revenue streams. It’s nice to know how to sell like a dog, but it’s really cool to have a dog that sells. Thanks for that, Pepper. Your royalty check is in the mail.

7 thoughts on “A dog that sells

  1. In the former Congressdog’s mind, his accomplishments are akin to what, say, Frederick Douglass did for African-Americans and Susan B. Anthony for women. He’s a pioneer pooch. Pepper just happened to have the right name at the right time. And, that’s said with all due respect to the late black Lab.

  2. Thanks, Matt. Amazing that more business owners don’t take this approach in naming their firms. Our industry is dominated by agencies named in honor of their founders.

  3. I always thought it was cool that you featured a photo of Pepper on your website’s home page… has former CongressDog Mick Cody ever expressed any jealousy?
    PS – like the use of the word “plethora” in the opening graf.

  4. Sad, but true, Catharine. Pepper wasn’t the friendliest dog in the world, but her name was spot-on for branding a new PR firm. Cinnamoncom just wouldn’t have worked. Sorry, Cinny.

  5. Sad, but true, Catharine. Pepper wasn’t the friendliest dog in the world, but her name was spot-on for branding a new PR firm. Cinnamoncom just wouldn’t have worked. Sorry, Cinny.

  6. Great blog, repman. Pepper sounds like an amazing dog. If memory serves, she was a bit mean to your daughter, no? I seem to recall an incident where she attacked Catharine and stole her scrunchy. Erroneous? perhaps. Now let’s read a blog about Cinnamon 🙂