The new economy is a competitive place and you’ll have to be a marketer in order not to be marginalized by the marketplace.
In brief: If you cannot market and sell your ideas to your employers and colleagues, you’ll be exploited and under-paid.
Fifty years ago, giant corporations offered a lifetime of job security and upward mobility. Today you’ll have to be more flexible in your working skills because chances are the jobs you are doing today will not be the ones you are doing in 5 or ten years.
In our current 2010 economic meltdown in the United States, we have a chorus of workers demanding the government create jobs. I’m not too astute about politics or economics, but it seems to me that the workers should be busting their buns to get new skills with more value in the new economy instead grousing about the loss of the obsolete jobs they lost.
In the news, a factory worker who for 25 years has put in his hours and spent his off-time watching television rather than bettering himself cries angrily at the government to replace his lost job. I ask this: how many books has he read in the last year about improving his earning capacity by learning new skills?
I am not being political here. It is a very practical matter. If your skills are no longer valued where you are, you have two basic options to improve your standard of living:
1. Go to where your skills are valued. The move may be geographical but if you are a knowledge worker and not a physical worker, you may be able to work remotely.
2. Learn new skills that are valued or will be valued where you are.
During the industrial revolution workers moved from farms to cities in order to do better financially. It did not always work out for workers, but consider that 19th century farming was pretty unscientific and unpredictable, the idea of stable, long-term industrial employment was attractive to poor rural folk.
In today’s shifting new economy the likelihood of you becoming very prosperous doing any form of work other than knowledge work is remote. Knowledge work can be creative work and it can involve physical activity, but the driving force behind the value a knowledge worker provided is not in his or her muscles, but between his or her ears.
Get Over Yourself
In my work as a marketing consultant I have had clients who boasted to me of their sales prowess – ie. “I can sell anything to anybody”
When I hear that I think 1. “you have a big ego” and 2. “if you are so skilled, why do you need my help?”
From personal experience hiring and managing salespeople I know they can be quite un-humble in assessing their own skills yet when it came time for them to dial for dollars (I ran a phone sales operation), very few would actually get positive results.
The closer you get to real mastery of a skill, the more you realize how hard it really is. By way of example: I thought I was a much more skilled guitar player 5 years ago than I think am today, even though today I am much more skilled in reality. The difference is now I am humble about it because I realize how much I have yet to learn to truly master the instrument.
The less you know about a topic the more likely you are to have a sophomoric (“wise fool”) view of its challenges. It is common for people to overvalue their own prowess. While I’m much too polite to tell anybody to their face they are over-valuing their own skills you would do well yourself to assess your own present skills a bit critically.
Skills in sales and marketing are the same way – when you learn a little bit about it you’ll start to think you are pretty hot stuff, when you really don’t have the goods yet. This is all part of the learning process, so observe it without judgement in yourself. Even if you must brag to compete in the marketplace, try to be humble inside yourself because humility keeps you in the learning process. If you think you know everything you stop learning and get arrogance.
Preparation Matters – So Be Prepared
The Boy Scouts of America slogan “Be Prepared” is a bit of wisdom. I was never a boy scout and I’ve learned to be prepared through numerous instances of failure to be prepared, with disastrous consequences. Skilled salesmanship is all about being prepared, and in today’s competitive marketplace it stands to reason that the people with the sharpest skills are going to be the winners.
Today’s marketplace is a very sensitive environment because consumers have virtually endless choices of who they do business with. You’ll want to pay attention to subtle details and part of preparation to market yourself or your product is learning what to look for. It’s honing your instincts, if you want to think of it that way.
In order to market your products or self competitively you’ll need to have a plan to communicate to the marketplace. Without one you’ll be just like all the other poor sops without a clue who are forced to take what they can get, which usually isn’t much.
Writing is communication and any planned communication involves writing. All effective salesmanship and marketing must be planned to succeed and sell the product. That’s because our brains work in a somewhat mysterious but fairly predictable way. The old sales gurus figured out a lot of stuff intuitively by observing people. Now we have mounting research into consumer behavior.
What is indisputable is that some people seem to have a “knack” for selling. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people. Selling does not come naturally or easily to me. Everything I’ve learned about how to sell has come from hard work and diligent study and I suggest to you that selling and marketing are very learnable skills.
If you’re selling face to face or on the phone, you may not really be a marketer. A salesman relies a great deal on his ears for listening and his voice for talking. A marketer uses a pen instead of the voice. This allows the marketer to have leverage, but it also means if you want to be a really skilled and successful marketer, you need to hone your writing skills.
The author’s Blog [http://malibumentor.com] shares insights, tools and instructions to help you define and refine your business goals in order to boost your income with more effective and targeted marketing.