I’m genuinely not surprised when people cringe at the idea of marketers and people in advertising. I decided to become self-employed because I was tired of being asked to tell a story that fixated on giving the customer the short end of the stick. As a sales person, I was asked by managers to sneak upsells on customers without them realizing it. As a marketer, I was told by management that the “churn and burn” model for business was okay because although it ultimately hurt the customer, it made us more profit. I don’t just look at these instances as unethical–I look at them as examples of fear and therefore weakness. When you sell a good product and you know you sell a good product, you can ask for a fair price from a customer and get it. Why? Because that product provides value to that person.
Focusing on profit margin really is a miserable practice. I’ve worked at companies that did it and it really does get in the way of you doing a good job. Sales and marketing is about providing the most value to customers. What is value? It could be 1.) improving their quality of life, 2.) saving them time, or 3.) saving them money. When you provide value to people, you ultimately feel good at the end of the day and you end up making money anyway. It’s a win/win for both parties.
Since becoming self-employed, I’ve never been happier with my career path. Why? Because I can pick and choose clients that understand this idea. For example, I was at the Sun and Ski headquarters about a month ago. I love working with them since 1.) I admittedly love their products and totally dig my discount and 2.) I feel that together, we can genuinely encourage people to be active with their family and friends. So now instead of battling with management over why screwing over a customer isn’t acceptable, I can know that the bicycle I help sell is going to help someone lower their cholesterol to acceptable levels. The ski jacket someone buys from Sun and Ski is going to keep someone warm so that they could enjoy a ski trip with the family they don’t see enough, or give them a new healthy hobby.
Customers don’t just equate to dollars that line investors’ pockets. Customers are looking at the value of your products and they know when they are just a means to your end. If you spend too much time going over the dollars and cents of doing business, you aren’t busy figuring out how your products or services can help someone more than those of the competition. Ultimately, your product does not end up meeting a need AND you have a harder time selling it because it becomes a matter of money instead of a matter of value. Don’t believe me? Just ask how that equation is working out for Ford or GM.
So how am I trying to improve your life through Sun and Ski? Sun and Ski is having a bike blowout starting September 18th. Bikes allow us to reduce our carbon footprint and clear up traffic, while also helping us stay healthy. I think that’s pretty cool. So I 1.) bought a Marin commuter bike from Sun and Ski myself and 2.) started the “Get Green, Get Fit, Get a Bike Campaign” on Facebook. If you think it’s cool too, join the group. If you need a bike, go to Sun and Ski and buy one.