Business Advice From History: Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the Perfect Company Image

Thanks for checking in for this week’s installment of Business Advice From History. For the uninitiated, every Tuesday, we will be sharing a quote from a notable historical figure, and then discuss how this may apply to modern day business. Today’s quote comes from former president Franklin D. Roosevelt:

“Be sincere; be brief; be seated.” - Franklin D. Roosevelt

FDR will always be remembered for his gifts as an orator and his legendary successes as president of the United States. He is the only president to be elected more than twice. Very few of America’s leaders, past or present, can claim they did more than FDR, during his terms, he introduced more than 100 government agencies designed to help America recover from the Great Depression. His master stroke was getting America involved in World War II, transforming a struggling country into a economic and military powerhouse.

The one thing Roosevelt will most likely be remembered for is his resonant voice and rhetoric. One thing that FDR had in spades was his ability to deliver a speech for any given occasion, whether it be a declaration of war, or one of his popular Fireside Chats. The quote above is Roosevelt’s response to his son after being asked for advice on public speaking. The three points from this quote can be applicable to advertising. Let’s break it down.

Be Sincere

Long-term success is best accomplished through treating people right and building lasting relationships with your clients. How do you do this? By treating your clients like human beings! When a client asks you questions, give them your honest assessment. While advertising, stop using business speak, let our product sell itself! And never over promise or under deliver. A sincere attitude is a great way to disarm your customers, they’ll be more likely to trust you in return.

Be Brief

The alarming trend in online content marketing is people have incredibly short attention spans. Combine that with the short shelf life of online content, brevity has become the best way to get your message across. The writers at Buzzfeed are masters of short, simple content that users want to read. Don’t beat around the bush, time is too precious to waste!

Be Seated

This third bullet is focused on how you work with customers. Timing is everything. You can have the best, argument for why a customer should use your product, but there comes a point where you need to stop being a salesman, and start being a listener. If you never listen to your customers, they won’t feel valued. Disrespected customers won’t feel any reason to stick around, so it’s essential that business owners know when to sell, and when to listen.

Very few people can say they have as many accomplishments as FDR, I have a sneaking suspicion that much of his success would be accredited to a disciplined observation of “Be sincere, be brief, be seated.”

If you're interested in more content like this, don't forget to check out last week's Business Advice From History!

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