10: Projection Guides Perception
I love to brag on my customers. I love being part of a small business’ growth—especially when they’re competing against larger firms. It takes courage to make the kind of risks most auctioneer’s don’t—especially in the expensive realm of advertising.
Schultz Auctioneers, a family auction company based in Upsala, MN, gets me excited on a regular basis. When I started working for them, they ordered one-sided fliers to be printed at Kinkos and then posted in restaurant windows and on convenience store bulletin boards. Auction by auction, they dared to stretch. First it was leading with pictures instead of “ESTATE AUCTION”—the local standard. Soon they moved onto professional printing, then self-mailers, then bigger brochures, then saturation mailings, and now luxury printing effects like metallic ink and cover weight paper.
Now it’s common during their sales presentations to introduce some of their prize samples, only to be shown the same pieces—by the prospect. “Oh, we know all about your advertising; we get your brochures.”
John Schultz, vice president for operations, is convinced that a good portion of their current auction contracts are directly related to the community’s perception of their effort and increased advertising prowess. “We get properties now we couldn’t bid a few years back. We’re doing fewer and fewer of the small auctions and more and more big real estate deals,” he told me. In particular, they’ve seen an exponential influx of lakefront properties. “They love our brochures! They want theirs to look like the ones they get in the mail from us.”
But they’re not just grabbing the notice of sellers. Recently, their work with a division of globally-renowned Sotheby’s garnered more inquiries on a property in its first week of Schultz marketing than it had in a year of traditional listing. And that was before a single Schultz ad hit the newspapers! SKY Sotheby’s, no marketing lightweight itself, then invited them into a strategic alliance for several more properties—before the first property even hit the auction block.
“It’s the marketing,” John said.
Mike Schultz, John’s uncle and the president of the 29-year old firm smiles about the prospects ahead. “There’s an excitement to match the hope,” he recently wrote. A small-town main street company where 91-year old Grandma Schultz still helps with office work can now stand shoulder to shoulder with an exclusive, global corporation.
That’s no accident.
In my next release of AdverRyting, I’ll point out some research findings from cultural studies that show the underlying strategy behind the Schultz story to be the rule, not the exception, for small business growth.
I’m one of the many “small business” Christians who act out of the minority. I often cower to express the Truth of the Bible, especially when it’s unpopular. The secular world holds the major media, the elite education centers, the reigns of government. It can be intimidating, when you look at the odds.
There’s a trite saying in evangelicalism: “God plus you equals a majority.” The Bible even promises that where two or more are gathered in God’s name, he will be present. When time ends, the Story says, “God wins.” In the mean time, though, he’s letting his enemy run the show.
So, I don’t expect Christian macro-voting to win elections, denominations to dominate Hollywood, or absolute truth to penetrate Berkley. The point of God’s Spirit trumping the dark side of the force is for micro transactions—eternal differences in individual lives. It’s our personal influence on the souls around us that can make the biggest change—whether the cumulative successes move a culture or not.
Just as in small business, where the point of growing is to capture a niche market (geographical or economical), God leaves us here to maximize our sphere of influence in our corner of his kingdom.
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