Gullible Breed…

There’s a scene in Men In Black, where a group of people accidentally see an alien get caught.

Tommy Lee Jones flashes his memory wipe thingy at them, and proceeds to tell them a BS story, to replace their memory. Something to do with light reflecting off of a cloud of swamp gas, so that they won’t remember that they actually saw an alien.

He sees the empty faces, and sighs: “God, you’re a gullible breed”.

And yes, we are. We’re exceedingly gullible.

Something shows up in a Facebook timeline, and people just take it for truth.

News outlets spin a story so as to fit their purpose, and people buy it.

Marketers online and off tell us that without product X our life will be crap, and folk whip out their credit card.

It’s incredibly easy to fool people.

Here in Spain, people put doctors on a pedestal. As if they’re some kind of miracle workers.

Point in case: when I fell with my motorbike a few months ago, I got up and saw I had some scrapes on my legs.

Nothing that hasn’t happened before, nothing that won’t heal.

But the bystanders were in shock: “You need to go see a doctor!”

I checked my legs, and said: “It’ll heal by itself. Why do I need a doctor?”

“So that he’ll cure it!” they replied.

Hang on, how on earth is a doctor going to ‘cure’ scrapes?

The best he can do is disinfect it, and I can do that just fine by myself. (Or perhaps innocculate me against tetanus, but I already had those a few years ago and so I’m still protected).

So I stopped at the pharmacy on my way home, got some betadine, done.

But people in Spain think a doctor is a demi-god. They were sold the story, and they bought it wholesale.

But it goes much deeper than that kind of thing.

I’m not talking conspiracies here, but there’s an insidious, worldwide exploitation of an evolutionary psychological trait going on.

See, in order to survive, humans need to recognise patterns in their surroundings.

Which is why we evolved to be pattern-seeking machines.

If claws cut us once, we’ll run the very next time we see them.

If these particular berries make us ill, we’ll stay away from anything that looks like it.

If a particular fish is especially tasty or easy to catch, we develop a bias for fishes that look like it.

Seeking out patterns and acting on recognising them has kept us alive. People who ignored patterns ended up having a very niche chat with Darwin in the afterlife.

And marketers exploit this like you wouldn’t believe.

They know how easy it is to fool people and get them to buy things, by tapping into that gullibility that exists in all of us.

And that’s how they have learned how to steal our most valuable asset: our attention.

Because any time you pay attention to something, especially online, someone is making money.

Ever hear of ‘Pay Per View’? That’s a fine example. Each time a PPV ad gets seen, Google makes money.

So there’s this enormous drive and competition, to get better and better at stealing our attention.

That’s why Facebook is so addictive: it’s literally been engineered that way.

But your attention is valuable, because where you place your attention determines directly where your life and your business will go.

If you binge-watch Netflix, you get entertainment but little else.

If by contrast you read a biography or a book on growing your business, you get an upgrade to the mind.

You get to choose – but not if you’ve fallen for the trap, the one that says that letting others steal your attention is the new normal. It’s not.

It may be the norm these days, but there’s nothing normal about being addicted to others stealing our attention.

Your attention is your most valuable asset, and I say: protect it.

And if you notice you can’t unhook yourself from something, ask yourself if it’s because someone is profiting from it.

If so, you might want to eliminate it from your life, or at the very least, severely restrict the time you give it. But better to just do away with it altogether.

Final tip? Think, don’t be gullible. ‘The norm’ is usually not the same as ‘normal’.

Hey, do you think someone in your life would benefit from these daily emails?

You can do them a favour by forwarding this one – and I’d seriously appreciate it if you do…

Thanks!

Martin

Create Your Own Dopamine Drip, Steal Back Your Attention

They say we live in an attention economy, but that’s the euphemism of the century.

What we actually live in, is an addiction economy. And it’s sinister.

The attention you pay (and I mean ‘pay’ in a literal sense) is worth money to companies.

When your attention is on Facebook, or Instagram, or Pinterest or Youtube, someone somewhere is making money.

Can be by selling a product or service, or simply by showing you advertisements. People make money when ads get displayed, and when they get clicked on.

In itself that’s nothing bad (though a business model based on nothing more than revenue from advertising is a pretty lame thing IMO), but there’s a seriously insidious side to it.

In that, the attention economy preys on one of the most basic, fundamental, primordial survival instincts.

Meaning: the need to not miss out. Because back when we were primitives (I’m not actually sure if we haven’t become more primitive than millions of years ago, but hey. Topic for another day),  we HAD to make sure that we got
fed and didn’t get killed.

We could only survive by noticing opportunities and threats.

The sound of a breaking stick in the shrubbery could mean a predator was about to leap on you, or it could be an animal you could hunt and eat.

And while that primal need is gone, the instinct is still in us.

The attention economy makes clever use of that, by constantly making us feel that if we don’t buy this thing, read that book, watch that video, or install this [random thing] in our lives, we’re missing out.

And while you’re an evolved, intelligent, thinking person, the lizard brain in you doesn’t reason.

It reacts to whatever potential threat or opportunity it notices, and tells your mind: “Oooh, look there!”

And the scuzzy scammy side of the marketing industry has developed its methods to scientific perfection. Literally.

Because, again, when you pay attention to something, someone somewhere makes money.

And the best way to get someone to pay attention?

Make ‘em feel good. Put ’em on a constant dopamine drip.

Endless scrolling on social media, Youtube presenting you with one delectable video after another…

Cat videos, ‘3 MUST HAVE tricks for XYZ’ headlines… attention attention attention. Money money money.

Sick, isn’t it?

Because in the end, you don’t grow or benefit from that excessive attention-paying. Others do.

This is why I deleted my Whatsapp account (I did WHAT???).

The thing nags at me every second day to turn on notifications, when I actually had a limited set of notifications switched on – just enough for me, but not for Whatsapp. Because I wasn’t paying attention to the thing enough. So, out with it. Plenty of other ways to communicate.

Now, I want you to be aware of how deep this goes. How desperately companies need your attention, and how deep and evil it gets into manipulating you into paying attention. Into, literally, making you addicted to dopamine.

(Which, incidentally or rather: intentionally, lights up like a christmas tree, the same brain centers that light up as a result of taking cocaine. Think about THAT for a moment).

And, I want you to know there’s a better way to feel good and to get your dopamine drip.

It’s real simple too.

Every morning, make a list of tsmall, ultra achievable but useful tasks. Preferably on paper.

As you go through your day and execute on them, check them off.

Each time you do, you are rewarded with a little dose of dopamine.

Simple neuroscience: set a task, do it, mark it as done – instant positive feedback.

You might think it’s an insignificant thing to add into your life, but you’ll find that it’s a MUCH more pleasant, rewarding, and helpful way to feel good  – while also making sure you get better at executing on the things that make your life and your business better.

Because really, life is too short to pay attention to the things that make some a**hole company, which uses you as a product and not a client, better.

Cheery stuff today, no?

Well, put my recommendation to use, and watch how quickly you’ll end up feeling cheery, instead of that horrible hollow feeling you get after wasting away an hour on Flakebook.

Or not, your choice.

But I’ll make my own dopamine drip any day of the week. And it makes me a pretty damn cheery person.

Cheers, cheerio, and cheery,

Martin

The ‘New’ Form of Marketing? Oh, and Tractors

PSA: Yesterday I said that I would ‘send 5 to 7 articles daily’, but that was a typo. I meant ‘weekly’, obviously.

PSA #2:

Saw an article that explained the ‘new’ form of email marketing, recommending we all use it.

They called it NaaS: Newsletter as a Service.

Which is a pretty nifty idea, but of course it’s nothing news.

In fact, value-based marketing has been around for ages.

For example, the John Deere tractor company was in bad weather sometime in the last century. I guess someone had figured out a better way to market horses.

Anyway, they did something clever:

They started a magazine for farmers, with actual, proper content. Articles and tips and instructions, on how to work the land and all the things that go with farming.

Obviously, farmers loved receiving the free magazines.

And obviously, John Deere made sure that any reader would see the advertisements of the tractors they made.

Double win: you create marketing that is actually useful, and people don’t mind that there’s also a product or service offer.

Sound familiar? Of course. It’s exactly what these daily articles are about. Hello.

It’s service first (for me, writing these is a public service in itself) and marketing second.

And since you read this, apparently that’s a method that works and delivers value.

This is nothing new – the only new thing, is that marketing and sales degenerated into pushy, sleazy, and often unethical ‘squeeze ’em for all they got’ practices.

That doesn’t make marketing bad – it just ended up being abused by unscrupulous folk.

Marketing done right has value in and of itself for your reader.

Whatever way you want: inform, entertain, inspire, teach, or mix it up… you can easily take the conversations that you normally have with buyers face-to-face, and create content (articles, audio, video, slideshows, photos) that *gives* people something.

And if you do?

Then people give you permission to also market your work.

That what I do, in these emails?

TOTALLY something you can do for yourself.

And, I’ve never seen a client take on email marketing (and stick with it!) and not have it lead to business growth and sales.

Oh sure, you’ll need to be growing your list.

And yes, it takes time before email marketing reaches the tipping point of probability, but personally, I don’t mind that.

I’d much rather plant and nurture an orchard, rather than go picking apples.

Wouldn’t you?

Cheers,

Martin

Don’t Play the Butternotes

Once upon a time, Herbie Hancock was on stage, playing with Miles Davis.

And he wasn’t feeling it. Herbie was not a happy bunny. Everything he was playing sounded trite, old, familiar, and uninspired.

He got increasingly frustrated with himself, which Miles picked up on. (Obviously).

Walks over to Herbie, leans in, and rasps in his ear: “Don’t play the butternotes”.

Took a moment, but then Herbie got it: the butternotes, those are the easy, the familiar, the standard and the bits that go down smoothly.

In music, those would be the 3rd, 5th, and 7th of a scale.

Herbie stopped playing those notes, started to play around them, and everything shifted. So much so, in fact, that it changed the course of Herbie’s musical career.

Playing the butternotes… what a brilliant concept!

In business, the parallel to playing butternotes would be things like phoning it in.

Coasting. Pushing the buttons, keeping the show on the road. Business butternotes are the attitudes and activities that are in your comfort zone, that don’t stretch you, that don’t do anything to create growth.

For me, playing butternotes is doing things like staying on top of my inbox. Publishing my daily article. Having chats with entrepreneurs. Good stuff and necessary, but not the kind of thing that drives growth. Which is what I (you too?) ultimately want.

And so, I study lots. I push myself. I get on a stage with barely any experience behind me, to deliver a 3 hour masterclass on marketing.

Sure I play the butternotes, but I do the other stuff as well.

So what about you?

Are you playing butternotes, too much?

And if so, what ‘wildly creative and jazzy solo-notes’ would you like to be playing as well?

When you’re not ‘phoning it in’, what actually is your greatest, most high-leverage activity?

And what if you’d make it a priority in your days or weeks, to work on it?

Cheers,

Martin

When a Buyer’s ‘No’ Is a Good Thing

Which is, basically, always. “No” is nowhere near as bad as you think.

Hey look, it’s never fun when someone decides to not buy from you.

But me, I welcome it. Because a No is the start of a relationship.

Not a professional one, sure. Doesn’t help your business… YET.

Follow my thinking here: most people consider a failed sale as an endpoint. Closed case.

One of those that got away.

But that’s a shame, because you never know when someone ends up being ready to get down to business.

Could be a week, a year, or three years.

And all you need to do is maintain a relationship with people.

Stay in touch. Share a book when you find one that’s perfect for them. See what they’re up to on social media. Answer a question, exchange emails.

You know: be a human being – which comes down to ‘being nice people’.

In my business, lots of clients ended up working with me months or even years after initially saying ‘nope’. Maybe as much as 50%.

That’s sales that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t stayed in touch and kept the relationship alive.

That ‘no’ you might dread so much?

Welcome it.

Here’s something for you to say no to, btw: my brand spanking new business-building, spot-coaching programme: http://martinstellar.com/business-growth-coaching-when-putting-off-the-important-work-is-no-
longer-acceptable/

Just don’t say no to putting off the important work, mkay? You’re welcome.

Cheers,

Martin

A Cold, Hard Business Lesson We All Need to Learn

It’s never about you.

It’s a cold hard lesson because it’s a fact, but at least it’s rooted in care. Behold:

It’s never about you, no matter how good your work is, or how beautiful, or how worth it.

No matter how much you need the money.

No matter how passionate you are about your work and what it does.

If you want a healthy business, it’s always, only and exclusively, about them:

Your buyer, and whether or not their life gets better by buying.

This attitude shows, and creates trust – a requirement for sales.

And if you can also step away from the sale, be 100% ok with it if they don’t buy, you build even more trust.

And you can’t fake that.

The only way you can create that level of trust is if you genuinely, really, have “the right decision for them” as your first and foremost interest.

But doesn’t that contradict the notion that a business must make money, and that you need to look out for #1 first?

No contradiction at all, because the more trust you create in others, the more you’ll end up selling.

That’s why in the enrollment conversations I have with potential clients, I’m not trying to sell anything.

I show up, I serve, I coach.

That either makes someone want to work with me, or not. Whatever’s best for you.

Cheers,

Martin

Loathe Being Sold To

If you look at the amount of money that gets made each year at times like Christmas, you might think it’s simply because of the aggressive, pervasive, inescapable advertising and marketing that gets thrown at us.

But that’s not really why.

The real reason so much stuff gets sold, is that people love to buy.

A book, shoes, a holiday, education and training: each time you decide to spend money on something, it’s because you want to.

You’re willing to part with money so as to have that thing that’s on offer.

But at the same time, we loathe being sold to, and we notice that especially at seasons like these, when we’re bombarded with ads and discounts and sales.

So people love to buy, but loathe being sold to – where does that leave us, the friendly, non-pushy business owner?

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you’re nice and your product or service rocks, clients will find you and show up to give you money, all by themselves.

I used to think that, and it cost me a small fortune and a tailoring company. You do need to get out there and find the buyers.

But people don’t like being sold to, so what can you do?

It’s simple, really really simple.

If you want to sell your work and you don’t want to be pushy or manipulative – but you do believe in your work and you know that people would benefit from buying…

Then make it your job to facilitate the purchase.

Be the trusted advisor.

Position yourself as someone whose interest is in the world and benefit of the buyer, instead of making money in your pocket the primary interest.

Yes of course you want to get paid, but if someone wouldn’t be happy with their purchase… do you really want their money? (If the answer is yes, I’m afraid you and I don’t have a lot in common).

Everyone else here, who does really want the buyer to be happy, remember this:

The trick to ethical, non-pushy sales, is to facilitate the buying process.

Turn yourself into a helper, whose job is to assist the buyer in making the right decision.

Even if that decision is to not buy at this point.

When you’re willing to lose a sale if that’s the best choice for the potential buyer, you’ll have achieved something essential for a healthy business: the other person will know – feel – that you’re not just in it for the money.

Or to borrow a quote from Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

And how does it feel when someone does not force a sale on you, but has the grandness and fortitude to let you walk away? It feels awesome! And you bet people will remember that.

And that means that even if you get a no, you’ll still have a healthy relationship with that person. Which makes it far more likely that they’ll come back at some point, compared to someone who walks away feeling like they made a narrow escape.

Never forget: if people love to buy, the best thing you could possibly do, is facilitate the buying decision.

Me, I never try to convince, coerce, or persuade a potential client.

I show what I do by giving people a coaching session, and if there’s chemistry we might talk about a coaching programme.

If that leads to someone becoming my client: splendid.

If not? No problem. You’ll have gained something, and I’ll have served someone – we both win.

In other words: if you’re on the fence about speaking with me, but you’re afraid you’ll be sold to, don’t worry. I’m only interested in you making the best decision for you and your life and your business.

Cheers,

​Martin

Did You Buy the Story?

All of us, we tell ourselves stories. And, we buy into them. We believe the stories we tell ourselves.

And some of those are not at all helpful. Allow me to explain:

Right now, I’m preparing a series of talks that I’ll be giving in Malaga soon.

It’s part of a project I’m running with my friend and business partner Antonio, who runs a co-working office, which is the place where I go on Thursdays.

Anyway, the talks will be around the subject of sales – something we all need in business, but at the same time, there’s a bunch of misconceptions.

So let’s play dispel-the-myth for a moment, shall we?
Myth #1:

Selling isn’t ethical

Oh I don’t know. A hammer is as harmful as the person wielding it. Likewise, sales are exactly as ethical as the business person conducting a sales process. So long as your primary interest is the customer’s well-being, and your mission is to have them make the best possible decision (including if that means not buying, and you accept that gracefully) you’ll be fine and perfectly ethical.

Myth #2:

“Sales require being pushy”

Hey now… the fact that too many companies use aggressive sales techniques doesn’t mean that it’s the only way to go. And in fact, a non-pushy, conversation-based sales process is quite effective. Equally effective, maybe even more so, as the pushy kind. See Myth #1 and the bit about “it’s about them, not you”.

Myth #3:

“People these days are smart and informed. They make up their own minds to buy, I don’t need to sell.”

Let me know how that works out for you. Even though the first part – people are (generally) smart and informed – is true, that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t do them a favour by being active in the process.

It’s a fact that people take more action the more you prompt them, and if your product or service really delivers and improves things for the buyer, your being with them as a trusted advisor, and guiding them to the best decision is effectively an act of service.

But if you leave it up to the buyer to decide what to choose and when, they might get distracted by life etc, and never take action. Which means they wouldn’t benefit from what you sell.

And worse: they might end up buying from a competitor whose work isn’t as good as yours, but whose marketing is more effective. That would be a disservice to your prospect.

Myth #4:
“Selling isn’t required if the product is good”

Ha! Pardon me while I laugh my head off. I have a misspent $150K inheritance saying this isn’t just a myth, but a full-blown fallacy-cum-sophism, with a side of delusion, wrapped in speciousness. Add foolishness, makes its own sauce.

See, I used to make suits, by hand, that would fetch $3K, and people were more than happy to pay the price. They were that good. But I believed in the myth that quality sells itself and so I did almost no marketing.

Consequently, I went bankrupt and I had to close my tailoring company.

Quality may, in some cases, sell itself. But if you don’t get out there, show up, and invite people to buy, the odds are high that it won’t work. Very very very high. Don’t make the mistake I did, but learn (ethical and fun) marketing and selling before it’s too late.

Myth #5:
“I’m just no good at selling”

This might be true on the level of business agreements and actual sales (and you can learn to improve in those areas), but on the level of being human, it’s outright false.

You sell all the time, every day, we all do.

We sell our spouse on getting milk on the way home. Sell our kids on eating their greens. Sell our colleague on helping out with a project. We sell someone on an idea we’d like them to consider. We sell a friend on spending some time together instead of each lounging on the sofa watching Netflix at home.

But here is where it gets interesting: we also sell ourselves on the idea that we’re no good at selling – and we buy into that story! How’s that for disproving that you’re not good at selling!

Food for thought methinks.

So anyway. Any time you want to talk about growth, or sales, or relationships – if you want a no-cost strategy session, let me know.

I promise that IF we end up talking about working together, your best interest, not ‘the sale’ will be my primary concern.

Cheers,

Martin

How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Close

When new subscribers join my list, I like to ask a question:

What’s your biggest obstacle when it comes finding buyers for your work?

The answers are often interesting.

Some people say it’s finding buyers in a down economy, others say it’s their own penchant for procrastination, and yet other say it’s identifying their ideal buyer in the first place.

And the other day someone said their biggest struggle was the close.

You know, the point where someone commits to giving you money for your work.

Personally, I don’t like the term. Sure you close a deal, but I much prefer to think of it as a starting point instead.

You open a buyer relationship with your client. Much nicer than ‘closing them’. No?

This isn’t just semantics, either.

Think about it: when someone wants to buy from you, they’re buying into your world.

They enroll in what you offer, and the premise that paying for it is worth it.

Someone who buys from you enrolls into your world.

And that makes all the difference, because all of a sudden it’s not longer about you wanting the other person to buy something.

It’s become a matter of them wanting to own what you have.

So instead of an outward ‘buy this’ push, ‘the close’ is about extending an invitation.

Which the other is, of course, free to accept or not.

A lot of salespeople know this, and use it to create successful and satisfying business relationships.

But there’s also a ton of marketeers and sellers who move beyond the social nature of selling, and who make it into a sort of ‘buy this or the puppy gets it’ transaction.

Which has given sales a bad reputation, but more dangerously: it has caused quite a few ethical providers of high quality goods and services to dislike ‘the close’.

And so, I often hear people say “I don’t like selling. I’m just not good at it”.

If by that you mean the notoriously unethical ‘ram it down their throats’ sales process, then good on you. Nobody should like that kind of selling.

But if you’re not like that, and you care about solving problems for your buyers…

I would suggest you switch your view on selling to having someone enroll in buying the solution you offer.

Because that way it becomes a lot more fun, and a lot easier too.

Want some personal, 1 on 1 help with that?

Then sign up for a no-cost strategy session, by answering a few questions here: https://martin283.typeform.com/to/v7Dsh8

Cheers,

Martin

When They Try to Sell You a Free Lunch

And email I received yesterday, basically saying:

“Hi Martin, we’re hosting an online event, and we would absolutely love for you to join our line-up of accomplished speakers, authors and coaches”.

Ah, a nice bit of stroking for my ego.

So I replied that maybe, why not. Came a reply from the organiser, saying that I could only join if I have an email list of 5000 readers or more.

Which I don’t, but that’s not the point.

So I sent them this:

“I’ll decline: if the promotional contribution I could make is more important than the value I could deliver, it’s not for me”.

Arrogant maybe, thinking that I have ‘so much’ value to deliver, but hey. I do. I got a great story to tell, and valuable stuff to share, for
those who are able to listen.

And it’s not that I object to promoting someone else’s event, if I’m speaking there. Goes without saying.

But something about these setups (and I get these invitations almost every month) just isn’t right.

It’s like when a gallery contacts an artist: “We love your work! You’re special, we must have your work in our gallery!”

And then the artist finds out that there’s a hefty fee to pay – basically, renting wall-space.

Or last year, when someone offered me to co-author a book, along with a few others.

For the honour of which, I’d have to pay $5000. Yeah, what about: No.

The problem isn’t that someone is trying to earn money from third party cash or third party promotion.

The problem is that it’s not done overtly. It’s presented as an awesome opportunity, under the guise of “You’re so special”.  And that’s simply uncouth.

And the biggest problem is that this kind of thing works. Plenty of people fall prey to rackets like that.

So if someone shows up with an awesome opportunity, and they do it in a way that clearly is meant to stroke your ego, be wary.

Ask for the fine print, and if there’s a cost: you might want to pass on by and get back to work.

Of course you might be offered free lunch at some point. That kind of miracle does happen.

Just beware of people who are trying to sell you a free lunch.

And when they do?

Next!

Your time is too valuable to be building somebody else’s business.

I say build your own.

Want some help with that?

You know where to find me…

Cheers,

​Martin

Menu Title