I was reading a book to my kids on sales and marketing. The kids were suitably intrigued and found the story engaging and fun, while they may have also picked up a few details on the topic. The most interesting part to me, was my reaction. I felt uncomfortable talking about sales and marketing with my children.
I have always been uncomfortable with sales and marketing. Trying to understand why and how to get over/through this issues for my own business is the focus of much self work that I engage in.
Even presently, as I am struggling to grow my own businesses, I find myself hesitant. My activities are critically intertwined with sales and marketing. Though I feel somewhat more noble taking advantage of the fruits of other peoples marketing efforts, rather than engaging in my own. I suppose it’s akin to hiring an assassin instead of killing someone yourself… The fact that my brain comes up with this analogy is a clear indicator that I see marketing as dirty and unseemly, analogous to killing.
The book was sharing the idea of a kid’s lemonade stand. A simple enough idea. It discusses how, when you run a business, you need to consider the expense. You have to pay for inventory such as lemons, sugar and cups. You need to advertise, in this case a simple form of poster boards put up around your stand to point people in the right direction.
This to me is a good and pure activity and has simple math and business lessons for us all.
The book goes on to talk about various forms of advertising and how they can be used to reach people (TV, radio, print, etc). This is where things start to get uncomfortable, techniques for making the customer ‘need’ your product. They discuss packaging, making the items look more fun and engaging. How some packaging is deceptive, such as making the product look bigger or nicer than it actually is. Also, the discussion moves towards making people feel like they need something. Advertisements focused on making people feel, if they have the product, they will be more beautiful, have friends, etc.
In many ways I wish I had someone introduce me to these ideas when I was younger. But I still don’t know how much it would help. Advertisers have honed their art to such a degree, it’s almost like black magic. Crafting the words and ideas in such a way that the claims make you feel like you need their product to fulfill your desires. “If I just crack open an ice cold soda I will be surrounded by friends and dancing teddy bears.” We know it’s not true, but the image is in our heads and the association is there. Soda advertisements never show obese people sitting alone in a dark room watching TV and eating a tub of cheezy puffaroos while they check their insulin levels.
I think this is part of my concern. My version of a soda commercial and theirs exaggerate certain aspects of life. They are focusing on the positive and desired aspects of life that they want associated with their product. My advertisement of their soda focuses on the negative. It’s a snapshot. Not the full picture.
When I sell someone something I want them to be aware of both sides of the coin.
Warning: My blog may contain boring prose where I ramble about ideas that you don’t care about and have no impact on your life.
I suppose some level of it is ego management. Lowering expectations so I don’t disappoint. But there is also a large group of people that would have no interest in my blog whatsoever. I don’t need to focus on those people, they won’t be reading the blog.
Others can point out my flaws.
Others can also point out my merits.
So on balance, this leads to my current approach to marketing, which is to let the end results speak for themselves. The merit of the content and materials will ‘sell themselves’. To a degree this is true and to a degree this works. But… If you are going to speak about yourself, your work, your products, why would you bad mouth them? Why would you become your own voice of dissent? Why turn your own market against you?
You are your own marketing group. Whether it comes to dating, selling, being part of a community, everything you do. You don’t have to be false. You don’t have to manufacture a need for your product. Believe in your value and the merits of your products and speak highly of them. If you truly don’t believe in the product you are selling, then you need to change the product or find a way to believe in yourself. Self sabotage doesn’t protect you from failure, it ensures it.
Go out there and succeed. I’ll see you at the top of the mountain.
Love and Namaste,