How Much Is That Doggie in the Window

When I was in college, long, long ago, in another time and place, far, far away, I took care of a stray dog I later named Spot.

Yes, I really named her Spot. She was part beagle and part dalmatian, and she really had spots on her.

Well, my father would make fun of Spot, calling her a mutt. My father made fun of most of the things I was interested in, so this wasn't unusual behavior for him. Still, it irked me. I loved Spot. I thought she deserved better respect. So one day I made up a story:

I told my dad that I had gone shopping at the grocery store, and of course had left Spot outside to wait for me. I then said that when I came out of the store, an old man was standing there, staring at Spot.

"Is this your dog?" the man asked.

"Yes," I replied, wondering what Spot had done while I was away.

"You have a rare dog," he said.

"Yes, this dog is a breed not seen much around here. This dog is probably worth a thousand dollars."

"Well, he's not for sale," I said, and left with Spot.

I told my father that simple story and from that moment on, he looked at Spot differently. He would play with Spot, feed Spot, and occasionally say nice things, such as, "That dog is pretty smart." Years later, when I had left college and my home, I left Spot with my family. My father took care of Spot until she died.

Now remember: The story I told my dad was fiction. It never happened. I told it to my father to do one thing and only one thing: Change his perception.

Before the story, Spot was a mutt. After the story, Spot was a collectible.

Perception is everything. I've often said that marketing is nothing but altering perceptions.

If that's true, how do you make it happen?

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