I just got back from four days in Santa Cruz, about an hour south of San Francisco on the coast. Gorgeous unobstructed view from this hidden little hamlet where we rented a forties-era cottage. We were a hundred feet up on a cliff overlooking the Pacific. The first night, I saw dolphins jumping through the reflection of the moon on the waves.
I used to live in a small beach town, and getting back to the ocean is like visiting a long-lost friend. While the dog played and my Significant Other stuffed her pockets with perfect sea shells, I just stood and watched the surf. The sound of the ocean, to me, is like an ancient voice that’s been droning on about important stuff since the dawn of time.
Four days without a newspaper or television. Very quickly, you can get back your concentration, and start tasting and hearing and feeling things again that the culture has numbed down.
It clears the head.
When I got back to the office, nothing much had changed with the world. The media was hyperventilating over some new bullshit non-crisis, and politicos were spinning like dervishes over the same nonsense they’d been whining/yelling/insinuating about the week before. War and rumors of war were everywhere. And the economy was either back-sliding or going great guns… depending on who was talking.
The din is stunning, when you leave and come back to it.
Now, as a marketer, you gotta go deep into the world of your prospect. I’m amazed that so many rookie marketers try to game the system, by skipping over the inconvenient research details and rushing to send out ads that don’t have a chance of convincing anyone to buy. You gotta read what your audience reads, and think like they think — even if you disagree.
Every niche market has it’s own mini-culture, with its own lingo and it’s own history and it’s own code of honor. Ignore these important details at your peril. Connect your “insider” knowledge with broader knowledge of what’s going on, and you’ll be weighing your profits in buckets. You must become part sociologist, part psychologist, and all-around voodoo salesman to find — and then needle mercilessly — the passionate sweet spot of your prospect. That’s why the best marketers read newspapers and magazines and watch popluar culture television shows. They are hip to what’s happening, and can intelligently talk about it.
You can’t market in a vacuum.
But here’s the kicker: You also can’t market when your brain has been turned to mush by too much popular culture.
Thus: You gotta dis-engage, regularly, and get outa Dodge. Let your grey matter recharge and soften up a bit. Go somewhere you can’t get to a newspaper or magazine easily, and let the dog decide where you’re gonna hike this morning.
The day before I left on my little mini-vacation, I struggled to get through a normal hour’s worth of work in four hours. I was toast. The evening I got back — even after a six-hour marathon drive home — I did four hours worth of work in ninety minutes. And enjoyed it.
A notorious “lifestyle” coach revealed the secret to me long ago — every month, get out of town. Even if you only have two days, do it. You are not doing your bottom line — or your life — any favors by dulling your system with too much work, too little sleep, and a lack of adventure and fun.
And that’s my holiday advice to you. Come January, and you’re looking ahead with a refreshed sense of lust and topped-off tanks of piss and vinegar, you’ll thank me.
Side Note: As many people (a small mob, in fact) have taken the time to observe, I have not been allowing comments on this blog. It’s a time thing — I’m just attempting to lay down a little honest content and info here, and I’m not really looking to start any conversations. So I blocked the comment option.
However… as an experiment… I am allowing comments on this entry. We’ll see what happens. So have at it. I will look over everything that’s said, but I’m making no promises…
Just now finished a two-hour marathon teleseminar, hosted by Michel Fortin (The Copy Doctor). A thousand lines, booked solid, ears slammed against the phone listening to me rant. A riot, contained by technology.
God, it was fun. The main theme was “salesmanship” (or, I suppose, “salespersonship” if you wanna be PC)… but as usual I spent a lot of time on PASSION. I never plan it that way, but my talks and lectures always seem to swing back around to passion — the passion you feel for your product, the passionate sweet spot inside your prospect, the passionate “marketing group hug” that happens with you hook the right market up with the right pitch.
I try to spread a lot of content around when I’m teaching — actual specifics and details and tactics people can write down, and use later on to help their own writing and marketing. I’m never stingy — my “job” as guru is safe, no matter how many secrets I let loose… because my real value as a teacher is my experience. Not the facts I can recite… but the real stories I can tell, illustrating real experience that can have an immediate impact on someone else’s life.
But you know what? The biggest response I get, when teaching, is when I talk about passion. We are all motivated by different things (from a rather small menu of human emotions, it’s true, but most of us have a slightly askew version of each basic motivation)… but we all share the same “fuel” for living life to the fullest: Inspiration. That blissed-out feeling you get in your gut when you immerse yourself in your passion.
Tonight, I found myself ranting — again — about the lack of excitement in most people’s lives. Like the accountant, whose wife and kids and golfing buddies don’t want to hear about his job. What he does is “boring” to most people. Drop-off-into-a-coma boring.
However, I’ve also been at the same hotel as a convention for accountants… and when they get together to have a beer and chat, they get as impassioned and animated and crazy as teenagers at a Clay Aiken concert. Becasue they SHARE a passion for what they do, for what’s important to them. The rest of the world yawns at them… but by God, among other accountants, they are dashing heroes, saving clients from financial disaster and rescuing fair maidens from the IRS dragon.
That’s your opening, as a marketer. You have a chance, when you zero in on a niche market, to BE that moment of excitement in their life. To share their passion, and let ’em into a new world of others just like them, through your product.
Even the staid old accountant still wants to be the uber-accountant among his peers. He wants to know the hidden secrets, discover what other accountants never discover, and master the things that will bring him money, honor and respect in his field.
Recognition and money. Two of the most powerful appeals there are.
Well, two hours is a long time to talk, and I’m exhausted… yet still wired. I just got to indulge in something I truly love — talking about passionate marketing. I am such a sap. But from the look of the pile of email I’ve just received, the call was a terrific success.
Hey — one side note. I’m not going to do a lot of pitching on this blog, unless it’s relevant. I’m doing some serious end-of-the-year housecleaning here, and having a new geek spiff up my websites… especially www.marketingrebel.com, where my main stuff is. Part of that spiffing up is going to include a stiff price hike… so, if you’ve been dithering about, wanting what I offer but not acting for whatever reason… now’s the time to get busy. Come January, and the price of accessing this part of the Insider’s marketing world is going to get more expensive.
Just a friendly nudge…
So… I’m on the phone the other day with madman genius Gary Halbert, and we’re shucking and jiving, laughing so hard we’re winded, and then so deadly serious we whisper like spies… talking about life, talking about business, talking about things so far behind the scenes they would cause rookie marketers to swoon with shock. When I finally hang up — and start scribbling notes, cuz we covered some very intriguing ground about making money on the Web — I realize the afternoon is completely blown.
Now, I don’t work very many hours a day — it’s one of the big bonuses of working at home, and knowing the shortcuts after a long career at the top of the game. But those hours I do pull are often filled with amazing adventure for a businessman.
Earlier, I also had long phone chats with Web guru John Reese, David Deutsch (a top writer with 3 current controls for Boardroom), and a couple of other “players” whose names you wouldn’t recognize (but who are movers and shakers nevertheless). I also traded email contact with Bill Glazer (Dan Kennedy’s partner), Michel Fortin (the “Success Doctor”), Gary Bencivenga (probably the most feared pro copywriter alive), and a dozen other mavens, honchos and evil geniuses of the direct response world.
Why am I sharing this? Simple. I suddenly realized that my humble little office here has become a sort of “Action Central”, one of the few connecting pieces in the marketing game where the hottest and most cutting-edge info often flows through first. This is not because I’m special. I’ve just been around a very long time, and I’ve earned the trust and respect of people. I am privy to the hidden marketing world most folks don’t even know exists.
And that’s the reason I’ve started this big damn blog. Every month, I have stuff left over that I wanted to include in my Rant newsletter, but ran out of room. By the time I start writing the next Rant, I’ve got another fresh pile of cool secrets that often bumps whatever I was gonna talk about… and that means the backlog of ideas, stories, and insight just gets bigger.