June 12, 2014

Fear Of Selling

I don't want to be a salesman.

I want to be an artist. I know it's not easy, but it's what I want.

If I can't be an artist, at least I want to be helpful. I want to change things.

I've seen the damage that crass consumerism can do. I don't want to be a peddler.  I am nobler than that.

You know what I mean, right? You agree, right?

Well, here's the thing. If you're in advertising, you're a salesman. It doesn't matter what you think you are or what you want to be. You're a salesman. I don't like it either.

One of the problems advertising has always faced is that there are a lot of people in the business who don't want to be salespeople.

They have a vested interested -- a personal, self-image interest -- in not thinking of themselves as salespeople. And today they have more opportunity than ever to act on this illusion.

They have convinced themselves, and many others in the marketing industry, that selling is not the purpose of advertising.

They go to conferences and write books and make presentations that tell us that the nature of consumer behavior has changed. That selling is no longer our raison d'etre. That the purpose of advertising is to co-create, or to have conversations, or to build relationships or communities.

They don't want to make ads. Ads are too graceless, too direct, and too transparently commercial. Everyone knows the motives behind ads.

They'd rather do their work behind an opaque curtain. They'd rather create content and pretend they're not making advertising. You see, they're being helpful.

They'd rather make believe that what they're doing is a form of social intercourse. It makes them feel better. They're not here to sell you something. They just want to have a conversation and build a relationship.

I'm afraid not.

They can cling to their timid, anemic illusions all they want but in the end they will be judged on how good they are at selling.

Sorry, amigo, that's business.


Sell! Sell! said...


Sell! Sell! said...

PS, something along the same lines (if you're interested)... http://sellsellblog.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/creatives-and-selling.html

It's what I do said...

I cant count how many times some hacky CD looked the work and said, "Hmm. It feels like an ad."

Sandvargen said...

Nice Bob. One of the best yet.

kurmo said...

Bob, what you are describing has the aroma of people who are slightly embarrassed about what they do for a living. There is no shame in selling.

Last I checked, we were living in a consumer society. That means you need people like me who design and make the shit, and people like you who flog it. And those units are not going to move themselves.
Otherwise the big wheel stops turning!

Conversation? I have friends. Relationship? I have a family.
Experience? I have a life.

Actually, I was looking to buy some product. Could somebody help me with that?

david said...

Well... Here's something...I am reading this blog while listening to "why can't we be friends?" You know that almost forty year old chestnut from War...

The truth is that selling is selling...margarine...cars...war...peace...it's the marketplace of ideas

You can sell with money..or you can with very little money.

Bob...your blog inspires me and you are powerhouse of truth

RobSterling said...

I've always thought of myself as a tradesman because I have vocational skills used to fill certain needs. I'm definitely not an artist and I'm not a professional in the sense of a CPA or a doctor. What I do is similar to a printer or a mason, but with interfaces and search rather than presses and paper or trowels and bricks.

And I'm OK with that. I want to do more and be more, but not so much as to approach delusion. I have a trade, plain and simple.

MikeH said...

In my years as a copywriter, I always thought the reason why I was paid rather more than, say, a car salesman was that on a good day the salesman might sell half a dozen cars but on a good day I might sell 500....

Raymond Duke | Copywriter said...

Thanks for this.