How to Handle The Marketing People That Want Your Money
It’s all bullshit folks. It’s all bullshit, and it’s bad for you. — George Carlin
You’re an artist-entrepreneur. Your art school faculty usually won’t broach how essential developing a sound bullshit-meter is. The high degree of bullshit that passes as legitimate work on behalf of both students and professors in the absence of quantitative success metrics is but one reason for this art educational shortcoming.
This is no one’s fault per se, but running a business project will certainly attract a number of bullshit-laden requests from people preternaturally adept at bullshitting naïve people unaccustomed to being marketed to. It’s easy to think that someone selling you something is just being really nice. And sometimes they are, but in the interest of saving money, don’t buy it. At least not right away.
Though marketing can be the best investment you can make in your business project, it can also prove just the money black hole that permanently sinks you. Hence why exercising extreme discretion works.
There are a few different types of marketing people and marketing companies (or “marketing agencies” or “marketing consultants” or “branding consultants” with vague titles seemingly ad infinitum). You can usually expect that in the early stages of turning your art project into a business that most of these “agencies” are companies of one. However, if you’ve publicly announced your project in some way, these people will begin to contact you to “set up a time to connect,” which is email language for “let me sell you something.”
Take their calls. Pay careful attention to how they talk to you. Their approaches are especially interesting when they’re trying to build a relationship with you via a cold email. If they’re good, it’s easy to learn something. Remember their tactics and keep them in your arsenal for when you’ll need them yourself because unless you’re not looking to sell anyone anything ever, you will find some of these tricks helpful.
Expect these marketing people to assume three things about your project:
- You’re a business, which means….
- You’re making money (or are close to it), which means….
- “You need to spend money to make money.”
First, take a deep breath through your nose and slowly exhale that air through your mouth. Next, acknowledge that there are smart ways to spend money in order to make money. After that, decide if what this person is offering is a good deal.
Good deals necessitate an equal value exchange. The marketer/manufacturer/HR company/creepily persistent accounting software sales rep views what they’re selling as a good deal because they wouldn’t be hitting you up to buy it if they didn’t.
The challenge is deciphering which of these opportunities makes sense to spend money on at the business project’s current stage. It’s up to you, the business owner, to learn more about which marketing opportunities make the most sense for your particular product. Chew on this conceptual tidbit: things aren’t sold as much as someone buys them. Make the people looking to bullshit you out of your money prove they’re worth it. Just because they’re good at selling you their own services is no guarantee they can effectively sell your products to customers.
Check my next post to learn which two things you absolutely must consider before spending a dime on marketing.