History’s Most Intrepid: Benjamin Franklin



Marketing lessons from the most face-meltingly awesome leaders of all time.

Intrepidus fortuna adiuvat.

Let us take a reverent pause to consider a man so off-the-hook radtastic that it almost defies comprehension. His male-pattern-balding/mullet profile picture probably wouldn’t get him many hits on eHarmony in today’s world, but he nevertheless rocked the heck out of the 18th Century with French mademoiselles signing up for ESL classes in record numbers, fainting at the mere sight of his knee-length hosiery and silk cravat.

Among his many achievements, our man B. Frank invented bifocals, the rocking chair, the lightning rod, the iPad, Gameboy and Chinese takeout; he founded the nation’s first library, hospital, fire and police departments, insurance company, In-N-Out Burger and two U.S. colleges; he was our first Postmaster General, Ambassador to France, Mayor of Awesometown and a tireless abolitionist. He was too hip to have just one name, so he made up several others for himself, including “Silence Dogood,” “Anthony Afterwit,” and “Benevolous.”

“It is hard for a bag of wind to stand upright.”— Benjamin Franklin.

Anywho…did I mention that his face is engraved on the hundred dollar bill, dominating the green over earth-shatteringly righteous icons like George Washington and Abe Lincoln? (P.S. These other guys were presidents.) My guess is that the reverberations of Ben’s humility alone prevented the makers of Mount Rushmore from adding his noggin to round out a basketball team of awesomeness, numerically speaking. No, a virtue hound like Ben just didn’t get the big head. After all, Ben once said, “He that falls in love with himself will have no rivals.” I dig that kind of humility.

So, what does this shocking one-man army of awe have to teach us about marketing? Plenty, but let’s focus on one thing that was very important to Ben. It’s something we should never proclaim we have, but should always strive to demonstrate by actions: INTEGRITY. One of the best ways for you to convince others that your business lacks integrity is to use the word to describe yourself. Showing is so much better than telling, and the public will come to know you by what you do, not by what you say. But then, our advertising shouldn’t be all about us anyway. It should speak to what our customers want and need and focus on them first. We must focus our lens on the people we serve, not on ourselves, if we are to gain credibility.

True integrity is tempered by humility. Do what you do best in a spirit of service; seek innovation, motivated by an ethic of constantly improving your value to the customer. If you get that right, then others will sing your praises (as I’m doing here for Mr. “Silence Dogood”). Frankly, Ben–for all of his awesomeness–wouldn’t have had it any other way.

He didn’t invent electricity. He stole it from the gods! (Image courtesy: Jason Heuser etsy.com/shop/sharpwriter)

Franklin once created a list of 13 virtues to live by. This baker’s dozen included:

•    temperance


•    silence


•    order


•    resolution


•    frugality


•    industry


•    sincerity


•    justice


•    moderation


•    cleanliness


•    tranquility


•    chastity


•    humility


“Let no pleasure tempt thee, no profit allure thee, no persuasion move thee, to do anything which thou knowest to be evil; so shalt thou always live jollity; for a good conscience is a continual Christmas.”— Benjamin Franklin.

Kelly Walker is Creative Director for Intrepid Marketing. Intrepid will be giving away a $3,000 marketing package this fall. Visit them on Facebook for details, or contact: Kelly@intrepidforward.com.


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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. CascadeBusNews.com • CBN@CascadeBusNews.com

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