Are You Part of the Landscape?

Author Keith F. Luscher

How many of you remember the first Superman movie from 1978 with Christopher Reeve and Gene Hackman? It is still one of my favorites. One of the interesting details I remember so vividly from the film occurs just after young Clark Kent, upon discovering a glowing crystal artifact in the space craft that originally brought him to earth, realizes that it is time to leave his hometown of Smallville.

The “detail” in question appears only for a moment: his adopted mother, Martha Kent, carries a box of Cheerios to the table for breakfast, when she notices through the window Clark standing out in the field watching the sunrise. “Superman eats Cheerios for breakfast!” I mused to myself (I was 12 then). My dad commented later that General Mills (the maker of Cheerios) must have paid a lot of money to have that box so prominently placed in the scene. (Indeed, director Richard Donner confirms in the DVD commentary that the producers received $20,000 for it.)

Commercials were in the movies long before they began to precede the coming attractions (themselves commercials) in movie theaters. When Marty McFly orders a “Pepsi Free,” or James Bond drives an Aston Martin, or when we learn that Superman ate Cheerios for breakfast growing up, we are simply seeing everyday products as part of an everyday landscape. They are called product placements.

Which begs the question: how are you placing yourself in the landscape? If you are in charge of building your brand (for yourself or that of your company or employer), what are you doing to become “part of the landscape?” What are you doing to be visible?

Some time ago, I interviewed Jon Kirk, a successful real estate agent here in central Ohio. He shared the importance of using slow economic times to stay visible, build your brand—to send out the message that you are here, and here to stay.

How does one do this? Yes, you can do it through advertising if you can budget for it. But you also can achieve it through social mobility. Social mobility is a common form of prospecting—it is the process of becoming involved and engaged in the community in which you live and work. That translates into positive visibility, not to mention opening the doors for new relationships.

Becoming part of the landscape is more than about just being visible. It is about being visible in the right context. It’s not enough just to be seen…you need to be seen in the right places (i.e. the car James Bond drives or the cereal Superman eats).
• You become part of the landscape when you give of yourself to organizations and causes that are in alignment with your own values (and those of your prospects).
• You become part of the landscape when you invest in cost effective, targeted and consistent advertising that places your name in front of others time and again.
• You become part of the landscape when you and other strategic partners sponsor and/or participate in events that are either community based or business related. And…
• You become part of the landscape when you leverage social media to spread the word about what you and other friends and colleagues are up to, and answer questions posed by other community members in forums and discussion groups.

Finally, you know you have become part of the landscape when people have heard your name, but cannot place from where. Believe it or not, that’s a good thing! The familiarity is all that matters…because when you become familiar to strangers you become something even more valuable: Pre-sold.

Keith F. Luscher, (Google Search) is a business development director for The Money Foundation, an independent investment professional’s think tank and production group operating within a broker-dealer. Prior to this he served professionals in the insurance and financial services industries as a management consultant. In that role, he advised producers on issues related to marketing and prospecting, and developed groundbreaking educational curriculum. In addition, Luscher is also a nationally known author, speaker, and expert in media, interpersonal communication and marketing.

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