An unfortunate tendency I increasingly see in many business owners—and incredibly, in many copywriters—is an almost pathological avoidance, loathing, and even fear of selling.
This has been fostered by two myths that need to be dealt with.
The first, originally perpetuated by the clueless authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto, is that marketing is conversation.
I was discussing this with a successful salesman. He told me, “Each week my sales manager asks me how many sales I made.
“If I told him, ‘No sales, but I had a lot of good conversations,’ I’d soon become unemployed.”
The second myth is that content marketing and social media have made copywriting, traditional marketing, advertising, and selling obsolete.
Listen, I am a fan of content marketing and have been doing it for more than 3 decades.
Content is great for building both credibility and buyer interest.
But content is woefully inadequate for closing sales. For that, you need powerful copy or a skilled salesperson.
I think the reason so many young businesspeople buy into these two myths is that having conversations or writing content is safe, easy, and comfortable.
(Writing good content…content with real value…is actually hard. But the vast majority of the content published online today is crap cobbled together from a quick Google search on the topic of the article and it takes little skill to throw together.)
But selling—whether face-to-face, on the phone, or in copywriting—is gritty, hard work that fewer and fewer people seem willing or have the skill to do.
Both direct response copywriters and salespeople have their sales results measured down to the penny. There’s nowhere to hide. Your success or failure is out in the open for all to see.
Cluetrain-style salespeople and content writers live in a cozy, safe world where they are not held accountable for results.
Once in a while, I think that would make life easy. But mostly, to me it would be boring, unchallenging, and unsatisfying.
Social media is another area where many (not all) practitioners seem not to be held accountable for sales results.
They brag about having friends, followers, and connections. But getting those seems a lot easier than getting orders, which is what salespeople and copywriters do.
Maybe I’m jealous of marketers, writers, social media mavens, and salespeople who don’t have to make the cash register ring.
Or maybe I am contemptuous of them.
I dunno: Which do you think it is?
Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.