Early Rap: The Poetry of Selling Yourself

In the early sixties, when men still wore hats, the Businessmen’s Record Club distributed a large array of aspirational recordings to business wannabes all over the United States. It was the era of Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People, the lodestone of self-help must-reads. The Businessmen’s Record Club took the art and craft of making a better you to a new technological level with titles like these:

– How to Win a Sales Argument (Without Arguing)
– Sell Like an Ace…Live Like a King!
– Selling by Telephone
– Nothing Happens Until Somebody Sells Something
– Personal Power Through Creative Selling
– How to Sell the Prospect by Selling Yourself
– How to Multiply Your Sales Power
– How to Multiply Sales by Giving Away Ideas
– Hot Button Salesmanship
– My 15 Word Guide to Successful Selling
– Earl Nightingale Gives You…The Strangest Secret”
– Keys to Successful Selling
– How to Sell on Purpose (Instead of By Accident)
– How to Sell Better
– Sell Yourself Rich

The album covers, though anonymous, balanced the fine line between midcentury modern and commercial kitsch. Sell Yourself Rich, for example has a Blue Note or Riverside Records jazz aura, but then there is that dumb script with the name G. Worthington Hipple. It wasn’t enough to have gold coins shooting from the sun; Hipple’s name had to look like a fake signature to insure the personal touch (it was the BRC’s signature type). Nonetheless, this genre of cover design intentionally made these LPs look like what they were to the audience—music to the salesmen’s ears.

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For more Steven Heller, check out Inside the Business of Illustration—one of the many Heller titles available at MyDesignShop.com.

2 thoughts on “Early Rap: The Poetry of Selling Yourself

  1. jim nissen

    This is a great blast from the past. And as you get deper into the psychology and process of selling, it’s amazing the direct correlation to the procecess of design – just not with formal commercial art. 

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