[widget:author_image-243913401] In the last Dilbert Cube job I ever had, I was mastering the craft of Direct Marketing and my boss named Nick didn’t like it.
There were two things he didn’t like.
1) He was a corporate guy who loved (and I mean, LOVED) chest-beating, ego-building brand advertising. I remember one time walking down the street in downtown Chicago, he was laying out for me the grand vision of his DREAM.
“After we raise Ten Million Dollars of Venture Capital, we’re going to launch this product into the marketplace and every single trade magazine is going to have full page ads with the name of our company – [ACME CORPORATION] – in HUGE letters, and EVERYBODY is going to know who we are!!! We’ll be EVERYWHERE!!!”
Contrast that with our lead generation website with lots of simple informative articles and my relatively ugly, humble, 4-Page self-mailing sales letter that put butts in seats at our seminars with an 8:1 return on investment – that stuff didn’t stroke his ego one bit, let me tell ya.
The other thing he didn’t like was:
2) Every time I did something and it worked (like the email blast that got a 27% response from a list of 2 year old dead leads), it made him look bad and me look good. Nick did NOT like that, no siree bob.
He secretly wanted to discredit me and get rid of me, and I could feel the heat on my back.
So one day we’re having this phone conversation….
“Perry, I want to help you out today. I’m going to coach you a little bit, OK?”
“OK, Nick, go ahead, I’m listening.”
(Nick was always “coaching me” and “helping me out.”)
“Perry, we’re playing with the big boys now. We need to get rid of this K-Tel stuff.”
K-Tel was the company that sold those greatest-hits records on TV, like “Rock 80.” My marketing reminded him of infomercials. Probably because I studied infomercials to learn how cost-accountable advertising really works.
“OK, so what do you want to get rid of?”
“I don’t like that letter we use to sell the bootcamps.”
“But it works. Every time we spend $2,000 mailing those out, we fill a class and bring in $16,000.00.”
“Perry, one of the things you’re going to need to understand as you mature in this business is that you can’t do things that are unprofessional. This is not K-Tel, Perry, this is industrial engineering.”
For a second I felt lost. But then I got an idea and regained my bearings. I said:
“OK, Nick, then let’s do this: You write a different sales letter, different brochure, or whatever you want. We’ll mail out yours to half and mine to the other half, we’ll use separate phone numbers and FAX numbers for the orders, and we’ll track both of them. We’ll let the NUMBERS decide. We’ll have a winner and a loser. If yours beats mine, then be my guest!”
(In Direct Marketing, testing settles ALL arguments. The Court Of Last Resort.)
He quickly changed the subject. “Perry, your marketing is too emotional. It has too much personality. Our people want facts. People make decisions based on facts, not emotion. My wife buys a vacuum cleaner based on emotion. But I make my decisions based on facts.”
“So Nick, you mean to say that when you bought your car, when you bought the investments you have, when you bought your house, all your decisions were made from hard cold analysis with no emotion whatsoever?”
“That’s right, Perry. Factual. No emotion.”
I busted out laughing. LAUGHED at him, out loud, right there on the phone. I could feel his face turning beat red through the phone line.
“Nick, you are one of the most emotional people I’ve ever met. You mean you’re going to tell me you don’t make emotional decisions??? I don’t believe that for a split second. You’re a walking, talking, roiling bag of non-stop emotions all day long, Nick.”
Then he got angry and started yelling at me.
“Nick, you’re getting emotional NOW!”
I hear his breath suck in and he tries to regain control of himself.
He changes the subject again. He manages to bring the conversation to a close and I can feel him re-calculating how he’s going to thwart me, I can almost hear the gears grinding inside his head.
Yes, just another one of many episodes of the Perry vs. Nick show.
I hang up and my buddy Dave sitting there next to me, HE busts out laughing. “Perry I think that’s the funniest one-side of a conversation with Nick I’ve ever heard.”
My friend, let me explain something. There are two kinds of people in advertising:
1) People who learn how to do it, using Their Own Money, and
2) People who learn how to do it, using Other People’s Money.
I was the in category (1). Yes, at that job I was learning on somebody else’s dime – that’s true. But what’s also true is I had projects on the side, my own business stuff, where I was learning all of this for myself.
And at this job they never, ever gave me more than $2,000- $3,000 for any marketing campaign; it all had to come back to us with friends attached in 90 days or less, or I’d never get a 2nd chance.
Nick was one of those “Other People’s Money” guys. Remember the thing about the Venture Capital? Nick was trying to raise it. Didn’t get a dime from the Venture Capital guys, but he had fond dreams of what he’d do with the money.
People who advertise with their own money, make ads that WORK. There’s something about spending your own money on a mailer or a Google account or print ad that makes you learn real, real fast, what actually works and what does not.
People who advertise with other people’s money, make ads that LOOK GOOD. Ads that make for ego-stroking conversations with their friends on the golf course. Those people waste billions of dollars putting messages in the marketplace that do nobody any good at all.
Here’s a little heads up about something. The media has now talked us right into a recession, a recession which is very real – especially for people in real estate and finance; a recession that’s mostly fiction in other industries. But the reality is, the landscape is different now.
One of the things that happens when budgets get cut is, people do less corporate brand advertising and more direct marketing. People have egos but they ain’t completely stupid.
What you can expect during the next 24 months is a world where the “court of last resort” – testing and tracking and measurement of results – is REALLY important. The stakes are higher.
I hope you’re paying attention. I hope you’re learning everything you’re supposed to learn from every dollar you’re spending.
I also hope you’re taking advantage of every REAL educational opportunity. Reading free email newsletters is cool, but I hope you’re investing in coaching and education that gets down to the meat of things and guarantees bottom-line results.
Here’s to your success in the Court Of Last Resort: Results-Accountable Direct Marketing.
P.S.: Feel free to post your own fighting-with-a-boss story, below.
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