how to sell literally anything — and not feel shitty about it
The dominant narrative in marketing is that the product or service you’re selling is best positioned to solve an emotional problem for your target client: Find the deepest fear, the biggest sadness in your ideal customer, and make clear to her in no uncertain terms exactly how your yoga mat, air freshener, or wedding veil is going to make her feel better. Forget better, show her how it’s going to make her — finally, after all these years — sublimely happy. The bigger the transformation, the better.
This paradigm is the foundation of all the marketing how-to programs I’ve taken. And I’ve taken quite a few.
Despite the fact that this paradigm is fundamentally built on lies, it has proven quite successful for many a bottom line, especially that of the marketing coaches. Meanwhile, it has proven toxic for us, our culture, and our planet.
Being told so often in so many ways that we have a deep emotional problem that needs solving — that it needs to be solved by something outside of ourselves and for a price no less — we start to believe that yes, maybe that yoga mat can fix us. When the yoga mat doesn’t fix us, perhaps the green juice will, or the vintage-dyed-perfect-fit tshirt, or a trip to Hawaii. When those things don’t fix us — when nothing works — wow! we must be really really broken. Yes, we’re super broken.
The relatively #woke among us may know that “money can’t buy happiness”, and so we don’t believe the marketing narrative. We know full well that a new car, house, or lip stain can’t make us happy. Because, in the words of Queen Bey, “it’s the soul that needs the surgery.”
Or does it? What if our souls are just fine? What if we’re already happy?
The conventional cultural narrative about happiness is worse than a snake oil salesman. A snake oil salesman may be peddling a remedy that won’t work, but at least it’s a bullshit remedy for an actual ailment. Our world is trying to sell us false remedies for an ailment that never even existed at all.
When we do wake up enough to question the efficacy of the solutions being peddled at us, we’re pursuing the trail of a red herring. We’re questioning the wrong thing, looking in the wrong place, worrying about finding better solutions, which distracts us from realizing that we don’t even have a problem in the first place. It solidifies the marketing monster’s hold on us as we search for the really real solution to the problem we don’t even have.
When we as consumers wake up to this — when we see we’re not broken after all — we’re free. We’ll find we don’t consume as much as we used to, which means we don’t need to make as much money as we thought we did.
Speaking of making money, what does this mean for us as salespeople? Now that our consumer selves have become free, we can hardly stomach perpetuating a false narrative that keeps others in bondage.
So what do we do? Do we stop selling our crystal necklaces (which truthfully we simply enjoy making and find quite beautiful to look at) or offering our life coaching courses (which we love mostly because they give us a way to engage with people)?
How do we monetize our expressions of joy, now that we can no longer subscribe to the narrative that our ideal client needs to buy things in order to be happy?
I submit to you a new paradigm. Let’s tell a new story.
What if the product or service you’re selling is positioned the same way it is for you, as an expression of joy? Find how your product or service is an expression of your own joy, and share that in language and imagery your ideal customer can understand: When you are at your best — when you’re in touch with the truest part of yourself, the part that is whole, well, and happy — you like to express that through the lighting of scented candles? Well, then I have just the candle for you. Because it’s the candle I create when I am in touch with my truest self — the part that knows only love.
Connection is what this story creates. Your customer will buy from you out of joy rather than need, or they won’t buy from you at all because your candle is not their ideal way to express joy. But she’ll be free, and that’s what matters.
This new paradigm will unshackle us all from our consumer roles of slave and master. It will connect us in honesty, for the truth is that we are all inherently well, after all, and so the only thing a product or service can be in this world is an expression of that. Anything else would be a lie. And it will make our jobs as purveyors that much more rewarding — wouldn’t it be much more fun to teach a yoga class to practitioners who are there not because they are desperately trying to make themselves well, but because they love to express their inner wellness through practicing yoga?
If we as salespeople choose this new narrative, we give a great gift to the world, one which is perhaps most crucial of all to the unleashing of our spirits, the strengthening of our relationships, and the healing of our world: we will be creating a culture of constant reminders that we are all well, and that any sensation otherwise is a temporary mirage, and that whenever we are ready (which will likely be much sooner than we think), we will be welcomed back into the whole, well world with wide open arms.
Brooke teaches clarity to creatives, activists, and educators: helping you gain greater access to your own best ideas — anytime, anywhere — so you can start doing all the awesome shit you were born to do.