Seems that my last post (about marketing coaching like we market cars and detergent) stirred the pot. I have been informed that I am wrong. Fear, I am told, is the way to get people to pay attention. Maybe fear gets people to pay attention, but I know for sure that fear is NOT the way to make people make a purchase decision they will be happy with. Fear calls out anger, and who wants to start a relationship with an angry person?
Here’s another tempting offer I got to increase my coaching services: “Do you want a RUTHLESS competitive advantage, or simply become extinct due to your inability to adapt to this already changed environment?”
I’m a coach. My job is to listen. It’s not to be ruthless. My clients need support and, occasionally, accountability. They don’t need me to be ruthless, they have enough of that at work or in their head, part of the chorus of inner critics keeping them from finding out what the best solution is this time.
Also, just as an aside, there are more choices than either being a ruthless competitor or becoming extinct. Many more. For example, you can be encouraging, realistic, and kind. You can also be insightful, enthusiastic, supportive, and helpful.
So, ruthless sales person, your two choices don’t make me smile and recognize my values. And I don’t want to be in your ruthless group, contributing to your bottom line.
Years ago, I saw this same cycle happening. Here’s the cycle: Group of people who participate in non-traditional work but are not good at business decide to follow the American business model. Someone shows up and offers to do the business work for them. The non-traditionalists sign up. After all, they will make money doing their non-traditional thing!
Artists once sold their work by putting up a tent and putting out their art work. Promoters stepped up and offered to make the shows “more professional.” For a while it worked.
Then the professionals decided to treat art like manufacturing. More people, more sales, right? What would get people to come in? Face painting for kids, food for adults and kids, dog parades, music. And the result? Art became an entertainment for bored people, who wandered up and down art festival aisles, touching art with grease-stained fingers, allowing their dogs to pee on displays and tent poles, telling artists their work was “too expensive,” and “I could buy the same thing at Wal-Mart for a lot less.” The American business model is all about money–making it and spending it.
Producers started to make money, but artists made less. Once artists had to pay not only for their space, but also for electricity, better locations, ads in programs, parking, it became less profitable to be a show artist. Yes, there are still great shows, and yes, some artists are still making money at shows.
But if you have a non-traditional product or service, there are also new ways to explore to attract fans of that non-traditional work. And, in my experience, it’s not through fear, and not through being ruthless.
—Quinn McDonald is a creativity coach and a trainer in business writing.