“Hey, hey! Now, don’t you tell me you don’t remember me because I sure as heckfire remember you.… ‘Needlenose Ned’? ‘Ned the Head’? C’mon, buddy. Case Western High. I did the whistling belly-button trick at the high school talent show? Bing! Got the shingles real bad senior year, almost didn’t graduate? Bing, again. I dated your sister Mary Pat a couple times until you told me not to anymore? Well?”– Ned Ryerson, “Groundhog Day” (1993)
In the classic film “Groundhog Day,” Phil Conners (played by Bill Murray) can’t for the life of him remember ever having met insurance salesman Ned Ryerson (played by Stephen Tobolowsky), despite Ned’s insistence that they went to high school together and that Ned had even dated Phil’s sister. I mean, how could you forget anyone who can do a whistling belly-button trick?
Whenever someone mentions “Groundhog Day,” you probably think of Bill Murray and Andie McDowell right away; but you’re probably not more than a couple of seconds into recalling the movie before you picture Ned waving at Phil from across the street. Although a minor character, Ned is unforgettable. He displays hilarious facial expressions, possesses a fantastic backstory for such a brief time on-screen, and he offers some of the most memorable lines in the movie (”Whoa-ho-ho! Watch out for that first step…it’s a doozy!”).
Now, no insurance agent wants to be remembered as an overzealous buffoon—part of the gag with Ned is that he reminds us of classmates from high school we’d rather not encounter on the street. But Ned provides an interesting study on how to be remembered for good reasons. In fact, here are four lessons you can learn from Needlenose Ned on how to make yourself memorable to your customers.
Deliver superior customer service.
For most of the film, Phil finds Ned to be nothing but annoying; however, Ned is also incredibly persistent and helpful. He goes above and beyond to assist Phil with finding the right insurance policy. You know that if Ned were a real person, he would be there for you in your time of need. By reliably providing exceptional service to your customers, you can differentiate your business from the competition and make a lasting impression.
Cultivate a clear and distinct brand personality.
Always cheerful, Ned radiates high-energy enthusiasm. He’s always eager to help and make a sale. If Ned were a real person, his customers would think, “I’ve got a complicated insurance question, but I know when I call Ned, he’ll be upbeat and supportive.” By developing a strong brand personality, you can create a unique identity for your business that sets you apart from the competition.
Display a strong visual identity.
Ned’s trademark outfit, which includes a furry beige coat, nerdy eyewear, and hat, makes him easily recognizable. If Ned were a real person, you could see him anywhere in town and think, “There’s Ned the insurance guy.” By creating a strong visual identity for your business, you can make it easy for customers to remember and recognize you. This can include everything from your logo and website design to your personal appearance, physical storefront, and promotional materials.
Create a unique and memorable slogan or tagline.
Ned’s catchphrase, “Bing!” belongs to Ned and Ned alone. You can expect him to say it often, and it’s synonymous with his role as an insurance agent. If Ned were a real person—and why isn’t Ned a real person!—you would say, “Hey Ned, I’m thinking about buying life insurance,” just to hear him say, “Bing!” By crafting a catchy slogan or tagline that accurately reflects your brand and what you offer, you can create a memorable brand message that sticks in the minds of your customers.
Overbearing as he may appear, especially when contrasted with Phil’s deadpan humor, wouldn’t you want Ned as your insurance agent? He’s cheerful, gregarious, and happy to help. He is the kind of agent who easily builds relationships, and in the insurance space, the skill of building relationships means everything. If you want potential customers to remember you, communicate through your brand, visual identity, slogan, and professionalism that you’re a relationship builder.
And watch out for that first step. It’s a doozy!
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