The Education of Millionaires: It's Not What You Think and It's Not Too Late (Portfolio) Part 2
In turn, if the product or service is designed to solve a specific unsolved problem or meet a specific unmet need, and if the message is targeted well, so that you happen to be someone with that unsolved problem or unmet need, you will be happy to hear about the product or service.
Good marketing, Seth Godin writes in Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable, “start[s] with a problem you can solve for a customer (who realizes he has a problem!).”4 Good marketing, in other words, is not something you do after you create the product; the fact that most marketing is done this way is why we hate the word “marketing” so much.
In his wonderful book No B.S. Direct Marketing: The Ultimate, No Holds Barred, Kick Butt, Take No Prisoners Direct Marketing for Non-Direct Marketing Businesses, which is in my view the single best introduction to direct-response available, Kennedy lists “Big Company’s Agenda for Advertising and Marketing,” which includes: 1. Please/appease its board of directors (most of whom know zip about advertising and marketing but have lots of opinions) 2. Please/appease its stockholders 3. Look good, look appropriate to Wall Street 4. Look good, appropriate to the media 5. Build brand identity 6. Win awards for advertising 7. Sell something He then lists “Your Agenda” for advertising and marketing, which includes, in its entirety: 1. Sell something. Now.
There are several important reasons you should learn marketing, even if you work for a large corporation and aren’t planning a career in marketing.
1. Marketing is a mentality. It’s a worldview that puts customers’ emotional reality first, and inquires deeply about their needs, wants, and desires.
2. There’s no better way to rise up the ranks of your organization than bringing in new business, or coming up with ideas that bring in new business.
3. If you’ve noticed, your job may not seem so secure these days as it used to. Now is a good time to start thinking about what skills you’re bringing to the table if you find yourself looking for work in the future.
“Understand that no matter what you’re doing, even if you want to be a ballplayer, a rapper, a movie star--nothing happens until something gets sold. Ever. The reason actors make so much money is because their face sells the fucking movie tickets. It’s not about their ability to act. The reason the musician gets rich is because he sells a lot of seats and records. Or his song gets used in a movie—it’s a license, a sale. The key to making money, and therefore living a life of less stress, is to cause someone to joyfully give you money in exchange for something that they perceive to be of greater value than the money they gave you. The key there is ‘joyfully.’ Most sales and marketing you study, you learn how to trick people into parting with their money, or badger them into doing it, or make them so miserable that they think you’re their only salvation. None of those situations involve the word ‘joyfully.’
I listened to some of Eben’s recordings and started reading some of Kennedy’s books, The crucial turning point for me was listening to a recording that was part of Eben’s “Guru Mastermind” home study marketing course. The recording was called “How to Write a Killer Sales Letter” and featured Eben’s main copywriter, Craig Clemens, who has generated over $50 million in sales through his copy. The key revelation from that recording, for me, was that when you’re communicating with a marketing message, you need to get inside the heads of your prospects, figure out what matters most to them in their lives, and talk to them about that, not about what you want to sell them. They don’t care about what you want to sell them. “If you aren’t talking to your prospect about their strongest and deepest wants, needs, and desires, you are doing them a disservice,” Craig said on the recording.
Good marketing, in turn, speaks to the prospect about their deepest emotional realities, their innermost desires, and about helping them achieve what they want in those realms. Thus, the best marketing is all about human connection, on a genuine level. If you can truly help your prospect achieve their deepest wants and desires in the area your product or service addresses (and if you can’t, you shouldn’t be marketing it in the first place), then you are actually doing your prospects a great service by communicating with them about their problems or issues, because few people ever meet us on that level, even in our personal lives.
The Education of Millionaires: It's Not What You Think and It's Not Too Late (Portfolio)
A QUICK-AND-EASY GUIDE TO TEACHING YOURSELF MARKETING IN TWO MONTHS
Step 1. Create an e-mail address that is not your main e-mail address and does not go to your main inbox. I’m going to be asking you to sign up for a lot of different free e-mail newsletters, and they will flood your e-mail account, so make sure it’s not your main account or inbox!
Step 2. Go to the following websites. Not only should you read everything you can get your hands on in the archives of these sites, but you should also sign up for the free e-mail newsletter available on each site, with the e-mail address you created in Step 1. You should sign up for these newsletters because all of the people I’m going to recommend are master copywriters. You can get an entire education in marketing and copywriting just by comparing and contrasting the different styles of these marketers.
Once you begin diving into some of the resources I mention above, you’ll see that there is no “one” way to market, no “one” tone you need to adopt. There are so many different tones and styles here, from Dan Kennedy’s over-the-top hard sell, to the wickedly funny copy of Marie Forleo and exercise guru Matt Furey, to Jonathan Fields’s super-sweet soft sell, and everything in between. If you are offended by a particular style, or it’s just not for you, then find a marketer you vibe with more and learn from him or her instead. (All of these newsletters include links at the bottom, which allow you to remove yourself from them if you no longer wish to receive them.) Once you’ve exposed yourself to lots of different styles (to see the range of what’s out there), you’ll probably find one or two teachers or sites whose values and sensibilities match your own. Start focusing your energy on learning from them—while never fully losing awareness of what others are doing out there as well, for diverse ideas and perspectives. (If you know how to do such things in your e-mail program, set up filters or rules so that each marketer’s e-mails go to a different mailbox or folder—it’s just easier to manage that way.) Note: Many of the people I recommend here, including Eben, Marie Forleo, and Jonathan Fields, are personal friends. In no case am I receiving any commission, payment, or other benefit for recommending you to anyone here. Be aware, most of the people on these lists will eventually send you to landing pages, where they sell their products and services. Learn as much as you can from these landing pages, as they’re often masterful examples of marketing. But obviously, do your own due diligence before deciding to buy anything. By the way, all of the people I mention below graduated from college, unless I mention otherwise. But hey, we won’t hold that against them.
The biggest lesson I had to learn was how to fail faster. That was the biggest one because every day, I’d take three sales calls, take three rejections......... The more I increased my failure rate, the more success I had at Xerox.”
Success is its own skill. There’s the skill of the craft. Then there’s the skill of success. It’s an independent education. My experience is, it takes about the same amount of effort to learn the skill of success as it does to learn the skill of the craft itself. So, it might take years to really learn what you need to learn to become a great engineer, or an attorney, or a musician, or a manager.
In my experience, the skill of success breaks down into three things. The skill of marketing. The skill of sales. And the skill of leadership.
First, marketing. Throw away everything you think marketing is because most of the marketing you’ve been exposed to, which makes you sick to your stomach, is crappy marketing that doesn’t work anyway. Fortunately, you don’t have to learn that. You just have to learn effective marketing, and effective marketing is really simple. It’s the ability to get people who don’t know about you to know about you. That’s it. If you can get people who don’t know about you, or your service or your company, to become aware of you, then you’re successful in marketing.
The second skill of success is sales. For some people sales is worse than marketing, and for others marketing is worse than sales. Either way, we have this belief in our culture that these two things are icky. That sense of ickiness is one of the things that perpetuates the lie that if you just get better at your craft, you’ll be fine—you can just do what you do, without focusing on marketing or selling what you do, because marketing and sales are icky and low-integrity. It’s just not true. You have to be good at these things in order to be successful. If you think sales is sleazy, manipulative, or disgusting, it’s because what you’ve been exposed to is bad salesmanship. Any time we’re exposed to people who are totally incompetent at their job, it feels like crap. If you’re being “sold at,” and they’re not connecting with you at all, and they have no idea what you want or need, and they’re just “blah blah blahing” on about their product or service, they actually don’t know the first thing about sales, and their incompetence is what feels like crap to you. When sales is done well, it’s a really simple discovery conversation. The conversation basically follows the following contours: “Hey, what do you really want? What matters to you? Well, this is my ability to provide that. Does that seem like a match to you?” It’s just that simple.
The third skill of success is leadership. Leadership boils down to the ability to change the hearts and minds of people. Not controlling people; it’s a myth that the leader has control. Your leadership consists precisely in your ability to define a future you don’t have control over. The leader doesn’t have control over what the employees do; she has to influence the employees to do what she thinks is best. The more you understand that you have no control at all, and you’re dealing with a bunch of people with free will who are going to do what they want anyway, the more you realize that the skill of leadership really boils down to the skill of influence. If you’re taking on a role of leading others, people don’t do what you say just because you say it; they only do what you say if they’re inspired. Which means, you have to study “What influences people?
What works then? It’s simple. While we normally think of salespeople as fast-talking slicksters, it turns out that the more the prospect talks—about their problems, their fears, their frustrations related to the needs your product or service addresses—the more likely they will want to do business with you. Which means, effective sales isn’t about spewing off a slick pitch. It’s about asking a lot of questions. The right questions. And then listening. What are the right questions? Any question that gets the prospect deeply connected with their frustrations, fears, and desires around the problem that your product or service addresses.
If you try to sell a solution before you’ve mutually agreed on the problem you’re trying to solve—which is what most salespeople do—people mostly aren’t interested.”
What I learned from Victor, and from reading SPIN Selling, is this: if you’re talking with someone about their innermost needs and desires, the last thing you want to do is throw a bunch of manipulative pressure on them. After Victor’s demonstration, both Jena and I bought SPIN Selling and read and absorbed every word. This single book obliterates the need for any more sleazy, pushy, aggressive, annoying sales tactics on the planet. And sales becomes—breathe a sigh of relief—an honest conversation between two authentic human beings. Victor says: “The most useful class I took in college was public speaking. I use it a surprising amount. The second most useful class I took in college was how to be a listener—I took a peer counselor class for suicide prevention, which was all about how to listen without judgments. Thus, the most useful classes I took in college were not part of the main academic experience.
“Read about it, study it, and frankly, just do it. A lot of it is trial and error. All experience comes from mistakes. Either making them yourself, or learning from someone else who has. It all counts. But unfortunately, experience is not something you get in college. Mastery comes from doing. Either do it yourself, or learn it from someone who did.”
Look for the Book Spin Selling.
If you have the will and the drive to better yourself, you usually can, no matter how much (or little) formal education you have.
Learn how to sell by creating trusting relationships, and everything else falls into place. The tools are readily available to you. All you need is the will.
The duo focused on two things:
creating a great product and selling it well.
“You don’t want to be in the order business. You want to be in the reorder business. Big difference. My goal was not to sell something to somebody. My goal was to sell something that was so good, they want to reorder it again. "
(Michael’s note to readers: Quentin’s Friends, http://www.quentinsfriends.com, is one of the best personal and professional networking resources I know of. I’ve been an avid member since 2003. I am not personally involved with Business Network International, http://www.bni.com, but it also has an excellent reputation, with chapters worldwide. These are two examples of the many low-cost ways now available to increase your business network. High-quality business networking is no longer only for graduates of expensive alma maters.)
“Being consumers wasn’t our focus, it was being creators.” The goal is to always spend your time creating, not consuming.
Bootstrapping is a concept central to the themes in this book....... it’s a strategy that involves getting to the point of profitability as quickly as possible—even if the profits are small—and then continually reinvesting profits to fuel growth.
Make small, incremental investments in your human capital and earning power.
The Education of Millionaires: It's Not What You Think and It's Not Too Late (Portfolio)
“We all are learning, modifying, or destroying ideas all the time. Rapid destruction of your ideas when the time is right is one of the most valuable qualities you can acquire. You must force yourself to consider arguments on the other side.
— Charles T. Munger”
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Disclosure of Material Connection:
Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”