Saturday, May 03, 2008

Reaching People

OK, now its time for one of those words I hate: "marketing". In big business, "marketing" basically means-- "lying and spewing total bullshit to coerce people into giving you money".

Yuck. For micro-biz, I prefer the more direct phrase "Reaching People". Hobopoet methods are somewhat different than the mainstream approach, as follows:

1. Only try to reach people who you can genuinely help. For example, my lessons are good for intermediate and advanced English learners who wish to speak better. I dont try to trick beginners into buying them, even though that would make me more money. I can genuinely help intermediate and advanced learners, so those are the only ones I try to reach.

2. Only sell something you completely believe in... something you are passionate about. Many many years ago, I tried to sell health supplements as a means of escaping wage slavery. The problem was, I didnt totally trust the supplement company myself, and I wasnt passionate about energy supplements in general. "Good Salesmen" may be able to brainwash themselves into ignoring pesky details like these, but I wasn't a good salesman.

Now, however, I am totally passionate about my English teaching. That passion comes from 11+ years of teaching and traveling and living abroad. It comes from training, and practice, and research in the field of teaching English as a foreign language. It comes from personal failures and frustrations with foreign language education (as a student). I can talk and write passionately about this topic because I have lived it and breathed it and struggled with it for over 11 years. I dont need to fake anything.

Thats the best way to "Reach People". Not lies. Not bullshit. Not technique. Yes, you need to learn how to reach people in intelligent and skillful ways. But first, you've got to have genuine, burning passion for what you are doing-- and know for certain, deep down, that you can help people with what you're doing.

3. Permission Only. Only, and I do mean ONLY after you accomplish number 2... learn about "Permission Marketing". Start by reading the book by the same name, written by Seth Godin. This is a method of reaching people that emphasizes voluntary, respectful contact with people who are genuinely interested in what you do, and who overtly and specifically ask to receive more information from you.

In addition to being much more respectful and principled (when used as its supposed to be used), this method is also a lot more effective than blindly shoving ads in people's eyes and ears.

Good info on this topic:
"Permission Marketing" by Seth Godin
www.sethgodin .com

4. Build a Community and offer them useful information for free. Using the method above, you create a community. You can do it very simply, by building a subscriber base for an email newsletter, for example. Thats what I do. I have an email newsletter-- and in each email, I give tips and suggestions for learning to speak English better. At the bottom of each newsletter, I include a link to my website-- which has information about my lessons.

Even if they never buy my lessons, they still get a lot of useful information. In fact, I tell them how to create an independent learning plan... one that does not require my lessons. Luckily, some of them do decide to use my lessons too :)

So there it is in a tiny nutshell-- the Hobopoet method for reaching people.... (don't call it "marketing" ;)

Mental Hurdles

I still have trouble using the words "business" and "marketing". For me, they are tainted by the countless evils done by big business-- the exploitation of workers, the union busting, the lying, the environmental destruction, the political bribery, the manipulation of "consumers".

In fact, the single greatest obstacle to reaching financial independence, for me, was finding a way to do it that didnt carry a connection to standard business.

Luckily, I was able to see that there is a HUGE difference between my friendly neighborhood coffee shop (for example) and the multi-national empire of Starbucks. I realized that I could follow the path of countless good-hearted, ethical, and moral micro-businesspeople... without every having employees (wage slaves).

And I realized that a job was no better-- its easy to rationalize... but working for an evil company is usually far worse than having a business of your own. In fact, its mostly a cop-out-- you pretend you are not responsible for the evil done by the company simply because you aren't the CEO (and thus the "good German-like" excuse, "I just work there").

With your own micro-business you are totally responsible... no passing the buck. Thats good news to me-- it means I can stick to my principles 100%. I can construct my "business" any way I want. That means I can make it 100% electronic, for example, in order to avoid wasting paper, ink, etc.... a better ecological choice than printing my lessons in books or on CDs.

Could I make more money if I also sold books & CDs. Yes. Absolutely. But Im doing fine as is, and I want my biz to have the smallest ecological footprint possible.

Likewise, on principle I absolutely will not have an employee. I will not be anyone's boss. I detest that whole power structure. Could I make more money by exploiting (uh, I mean "hiring") employees to do all my work for me? Yes. Absolutely. But again, since I'm responsible I can do it however I want.

That's the difference between financial freedom and wage slavery. As a slave, you compromise your principles constantly. You duck your head and cover your ass. You ask for permission, and when its denied, you obey. Your economic dependence always takes precedent over your principles.

For anyone who wishes to lead a moral, ethical, kind, and generous life, there really is no choice but to create your own biz and escape wage slavery.