While appearing on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, super star country singer Trace Atkins tells about the time in his life before he became famous. Trace played in clubs throughout the Southwest for 5 years, moved to Nashville and played in bars for another 3 years before getting his first recording contract.
Trace says, “I always had very happy club owners because I would challenge people to drink as much as I did from the stage. So I sold a lot of liquor, which is really the business that you’re in when you’re playing in beer joints. You’re not in the music business, you’re in the liquor business.”
Craig Ferguson jumped in with his own analogy, explaining that his late night tv show wasn’t about television; it was about selling erectile dysfunction pills to lonely people. Okay, maybe Craig was joking (and maybe he wasn’t) but the point is this: You’re not always in the business you think you’re in.
Trace knew that if he wanted to stay booked in the local pubs, he needed to make the bar owners happy. And what did the bar owners really want? It wasn’t to pack their venues with people who liked to listen to country music – it was to sell drinks. It wouldn’t matter how many people showed up for the music if no one was drinking and Trace knew that. That’s why he made it his business to sell alcohol, making the bar owners happy and ensuring he continued to work.
Trace’s number one customers weren’t the fans, they were the bar owners. And later, his number one customer would be the record label. Whatever you sell, it might not be what you think it is and your customer might not be who you think it is, either.
If you’re in the business of helping small businesses with their marketing, who is your customer? The business owner, of course. And yet there is often someone who it is even MORE important to impress than the business owner, and that’s the gatekeeper. It might be an assistant, a secretary, a spouse or the manager. This is the person who is the KEY to getting to the guy or gal who makes the money decisions. If you don’t make it a priority to sell the gatekeeper first, they are going to sabotage you and you’ll never get the client.
Let’s say you’re in the weight loss industry. Are you really selling yet another method to lose weight? Or are you selling people on the hope they can feel sexy again, fit into their clothes again, live longer, overcome their crippling health challenges and so forth? If you’re a minister or a teacher, your clients aren’t your congregation or students – it’s the board that determines if you get to stay or go.
Let’s face it: If it weren’t for all the issues that being overweight brings with it – if people were just as healthy and sexy and confident with that extra weight – then you would be out of a job. You’re not selling a skinnier body, you’re selling a better quality of life, and that’s a huge distinction.
The romance niche isn’t about finding someone to move in, pay half the mortgage and make you less lonely – any decent roommate can do that. It’s about sharing life experiences with the one person who truly knows you, being yourself in front of this person and being able to completely open up and let someone else know the real you, expanding your world to encompass another and so forth.
You might think you’re a musician, a marketer, a product creator and so forth, and maybe you are. But you’re also a version of Trace’s alcohol salesperson, or whatever it takes to connect with your customer and make the sales.
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