One of my first jobs was as a sales associate for Kirkland’s (Briar Patch, back then) back in high school. Tart burners were a new trend in home decor, and I became personally obsessed with them.
Our store sold very basic, get-along-with-nearly-any-decor tart burners for $3.99 each. Yankee Candle tarts, which are the only ones I believe are worth buying, were $1 each.
After three weeks of working, my manager exclaimed that I was the Tart Burner Queen, as I convinced nearly every single shopper to spend the few dollars to invest in these magical tarts and burners, which would burn for 6 hours per tart and make your house smell amazing for a full 10 hours.
Really, a $5 add-on to every purchase is a good job for 16-year-old me.
Customers loved me because they knew I was being honest (I would tell them to buy the necessary tealight candles at Dollar Tree down the mall, instead of paying $3.99 for a pack of 10 from us). My manager was happy to get the boost in add-on sales. Not to mention, most of these customers started buying tarts in bulk from us, as gifts for their friends and to stock up on the season’s scents!
Several years ago, during an internship for the marketing department of a local news station, my managers began talks with me about turning my internship into a job after graduation. In conversation, I explained that I refused to work for the sales department. “I am not a sales person,” I confidently declared.
“You are always selling something, Ashley. Always,” my soon-to-be boss told me.
If you are a marketer, it is in your bones. It is in your blood. You are the first to yap to your friends when you love something, and largely because you cannot help but share this great find. When you find an amazing purse on clearance for $8, you are never afraid to rave about that during all the compliments you get. No shame – marketing is who you are, period.
1. Do not confuse marketing with selling.
Being a marketer for the sake of marketing is no marketing at all. You lack heart. That is straight, pure salesmanship. Be honest with yourself, and call yourself a salesman if that is what you are doing. Trust me, you will make more money in the sales department anyhow. On the downside, you may have a lot less creative freedom in how to reach people, also.
Remember my story about the tart burners. I was the Tart Burner Queen (pride-worthy, right?) because I believed in the product. I bought two for my mom, and several more for friends’ moms. I stocked up on Macintosh Apple tarts because my mom and I could not get enough of the scent in our hot, un-air-conditioned home. Heck, 15 years later, I have two of them in my house right now!
Believing in what you are pushing is marketing. Believing you need to make that quota and you’ll sell ice to an Inuit is sales.
2. Remember, what my amazing mentor of a boss said is true: You are always selling something.
What? Did I not just tell you not to draw a sharp line between marketing and sales?
Yes. Yes, I did. You must remember, however, that marketing and sales are important to each other and intrinsically meshed. While you, as a marketer, may deal less with the money figures, your job is to get those numbers up. To raise awareness, to raise volunteerism, to raise participation, to raise public opinion. Your job is to raise your company/ your values/ your ideals above the competition.
This goes for the news producers down at the news station, too, or the receptionist at your dentist, or the pastor at your church. Every single person in an organization is selling the integrity and quality of their organization through their representation.
3. Just because you are a marketer does not mean you are, nor should be, the face of the organization.
YouTube, Vimeo, Viddler, Twitter, and reality TV have given rise to an entire “generation” of self-professed super stars, ninjas, experts, gurus, mavens, rock stars, managers, etc.
As if the natural narcissistic desire to get all the credit, fame, and glory were not enough, many of these “experts” babble endlessly about your need to establish your personal brand.
Remember, however, if you work with a client or ask to be employed by a company or organization, they may not see your pants-dropping charisma as the asset you do. With some corporate structures, nationally-heralded institutions, or non-profits, they may want a marketer who is comfortable working behind the curtain, nearly invisible to the outside.
Clients and companies hire you to make them look good. Unless your name is J-Lo or Ann Curry, chances are they have no interest in videos starting with you introducing yourself. They want your work to show them shine, and nothing else.
Big marketing peeve! Especially on websites. They paid you to BUILD it, not tattoo it w/ your name. You don’t pay rent on their home page.
Amen, Sister. What silliness. If you are trying to shine, publicly, on your organization’s/ client’s time, you are not marketing. You are self-promoting.
4. Do not become a social media slut.
Only other social media sluts enjoy the company and antics of … well, you get me.
I cannot take credit for that word choice (nor am I sure I want to), but I can thank Grow for their article from yesterday.
The story touches on the fact that just because you “know” social media does not mean you know marketing.
Also, assuming that you want to make your life’s work “social media”, then you need to have a career at Facebook, Twitter, or even Plurk, but not as a marketer trying to do justice by marketing another individual/ company/ or institution.
Your client or employer deserves more than a short-sighted, half-conceived attempt at marketing.
No doubt, a hundred “rules” or reminders can help you be better at what you do. Just look at Jeffrey Gitomer books for examples.
I beg of you, however, please… please embrace my four reminders.
Do what you love, and be true to who you are. As a marketer, can you mesh those two well? Or are you a sell-out?
~ Ashley Sue