Michael's Monthly Column "Throwing My Loop"

Throwing My Loop…    

By:  Michael Johnson  



Marketing - (mar-ket-ing) - a sequence of activities comprised of (1.) product or concept development (2.) product creation (3.) determining pricing and (4.) finding outlets or distribution channels to sell that product.

As a young man, I had no interest whatsoever in all that. "Marketing" had nothing to do with me. I wouldn't have taken a marketing class if you paid me. Later, I would pay other people plenty to tell me all about it. At one point, I thought "marketing" was a waste of time. Now I half-jokingly say there should be a federal law requiring marketing classes a full half-day in all schools from first grade through Phd. Years passed in my life before I realized a simple and powerful truth...if you can't tell people what you do, your business won't do very well. Herman Mellville died a pauper because nobody knew Moby Dick was in the bookstore.

First, let's say you have created a product. Doesn't matter if you're a dentist, a counselor, or horse trainer. Regardless of the product, let's assume you have something, and you want to earn your daily bread by selling that thing to the world. How do we do that?

First, be warned. There are so many people that will tell you they know how to do just that - to sell that product for you. What I'm about to say is a difficult concept to grasp, but it's true. No one can sell your product like you can. No one will care as much about it as you do. No one will work as hard for you as you will. Most people I know who live using their wits - writers, business owners, horse trainers, etc., - don't enjoy marketing nearly as much as practicing their craft. When someone says, "I have an idea for something I want to do," my first question is, "How do you plan to get "it" out there? How will you get that in other people's hands?" Their response is often, "Oh, I don't want to do that part of it. I'll get someone else to do that. They will do that." No, they won't.

Most of us operate under the assumption that when we one day finally do something, someone will come along and after seeing how wonderful our concept is, this "Lone Ranger" person will solve our every difficulty. Here's some news...he ain't comin'. There is one person you can depend on all the time. That person is you.

And most of us operate under another assumption - and when you think about it, this one is odd. When we are considering doing a particular thing, for some reason we must ask others what they think. "Is this good enough?" "Do you think this will work?" We seem to be required to seek "permission" or "approval" from those around us before we begin. Get ready to be told your idea won't work, and often, that rejection will come from family and friends closest to you. When we ask the person what they think of our idea, they get this smirky little smile on their face and while shaking their head from right to left, say our name three times very slowly - as in, "John, John, John...when will you ever grow up? So many people have gone broke trying to do that sort of thing, and besides, it's time for you to start thinking about more serious matters...like retirement." For some reason, it never occurs to us that this person has never done anything remotely like we are talking about - so how on earth would they know if our idea will work or not? We must be a success in our own bedroom, in our own house, and in our own heart before we ever go out in the world. Faith in the Divine is important. So is faith in ourselves.

And as for the most effective marketing strategy? After interviewing scores of successful people - whether they created robotic toys, gave golf lessons, wrote books, or made saddles - there was a common refrain from all. "I wish I could tell you I had a professional portfolio and slick presentation," said one, "but the truth is I worked hard to create something of quality and value, and then, I just asked people if they would try my product. I asked a lot of people for a long time." No mystery there. The most effective marketing stratgey? Hard work and sustained effort, and telling people about the passion you have for your product. And remember - no matter how high-tech our world may be...nothing beats positive "word of mouth."

"If you don't toot your horn, somebody will steal it."

            --Lyndon Johnson


-- Michael Johnson                      


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