Silent Salesman

I saw a term in American Profile, a newspaper supplement, that caught my eye: “silent salesman.”

It’s the term W. Atlee Burpee used to describe his annual garden catalog. Burpee borrowed $1,000 in 1876 to start his seed company. He was the first to guarantee his seeds and later produced an annual mail-order catalog, which became his highly successful silent salesman.

Today, the catalog is mailed to 2.5 million customers on the day after Christmas. And W. Atlee Burpee & Co. is the largest mail-order seed company in the United States.

Catalogs may not be as prevalent as they once were, but the idea of a silent salesman strikes me as very current, especially in our somewhat marketing-averse culture.

What are today’s “silent salesmen,” or, to be gender neutral, “silent salespeople”?

They’re …

Web sites
Press releases
Online forums and discussion groups

And the list goes on.

Think about your “silent salespeople” and how effective they are for your company. As you consider them, make sure you’re planting enough seeds and in all the right places.


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