This 90-Year Old Influencer Has An Attention Capturing Hack For You

For all of the BS marketing strategy pieces we read about (sorry, but I’m dragging you into this with me), we need a story like the one I’m about to share to bring us back to basics. It reminds us to pick our heads up out of the weeds, look to where we want to go, and consider the best way to get there. Being busy doesn’t beat getting results, and sometimes getting results requires a singular, smartly executed, grand gesture.

So, did you hear the one about the 90-year-old whose WiFi sucked so bad that he took out a $10,000 ad in the Wall Street Journal to call out AT&T’s CEO on his service?


Who was his audience? AT&T. Specifically, Mr. John T. Stankey, CEO, but really, the entire company was in his crosshairs. Stankey was there to show he meant business and make sure any employee who saw it wondered, “Did the boss see this?”

How could he reach them? Customer service? Come on, you already know where that got you last time you tried. What about social media? Do you really think a chatbot or Twitter tech support is going to solve anything? By going old school, be hit them where they were most likely to actually pay attention. He went where he knew they were.

What steps did he take to get the results he wanted? In his ad, he clearly states their reputation. He clearly states his problem. He clearly demonstrates why these are out of line with each other and asks the CEO to personally address his question. He included the clearest way for them to reach him. And you know what? It worked. Epstein got them to fix the problem. Cue the singing angels.

Next time we’re thinking about our ongoing email campaign or product offering communications or whatever, take a moment to think about Aaron M. Epstein. We want to ask: who are we trying to reach, what are we going to use to reach them, how will they understand the problem at hand, and how can they reach us to make something happen?

We don’t have to get caught up in the latest tactics and methods. We don’t have to just be busy in our efforts by doing what everyone else says works right now. What will matter is that we ask the right questions and take the actions that get the results we’re after.

h/t Mark Ritson. If you want his interpretation of the story, which helped shape mine, see, “If an influencer’s what you want, find a 90-year-old with bad WiFi.”

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