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Jeff Schmidt

Why People Hate To Advertise


The game is called Word Association. Ready? Advertising. Heres the second word: Sales. Quickly, what is the first word or set of words that come to mind? Sadly, for most people the first words that come to mind are not positive. They are words of negativity, distrust, and disdain.

I spent the last 26 years of my career selling; but worse, selling advertising. Ive conducted hundreds of seminars for advertisers. One of the first things I ask participants to do is, Raise your hand if you love to advertise. Generally not a single hand goes up. Then I say, Raise your hand if you HATE to advertise.  Every hand goes up. Then, with a perplexed look, I ask them, You hate to advertise? You know this is a seminar about advertising, right?

That gets a chuckle but heres what is going on: Passionate people, people very good at building widgets, or providing a service, have no clue about how to market and advertise their products or services. Worse, there are people supposedly servicing these advertisers, running around, paid a commission for what they sell, and claiming they know what they are doing; but their life expectancy in the business is less than two years. No wonder clients need to attend seminars.

Im the type of person who asks, why a lot. When people tell me why they hate advertising, it usually boils down to these four things:

1. They dont know how to do it.
2. When they do it, they dont know how to measure it.
3. Theyve tried it before and it didnt seem to work.
4. They dont have the patience to let it work.

The truth is, it wasnt advertising that I was selling. It was cars, boats, banking services, kitchen remodeling, and steaks at a great restaurant, etc. Claude Hopkins wrote in his 1923 book about advertising: Advertising is multiplied salesmanship. I was helping my clients make more sales calls. More sales calls = more sales. If advertising is multiplied salesmanship, then salesmanship must be advertising to a single person.

Reality check:  If youre in sales, youre in advertising. You cant have one without the other. Great sellers are great marketers. As Chris Lytle explains in our "Masters Course of Sales," great sellers:

-- Know what they are doing.
-- Know they know what they are doing.
-- Are known for what they do.

To be known for what you do requires marketing, dare I say it advertising!

David Newman, in his great new book "Do It! Marketing: 77 Instant-Action Ideas to Boost Sales, Maximize Profits, and Crush Your Competition," says in his experience there are 10 reasons that entrepreneurs fail. Five of the 10 relate to marketing/advertising:

1. Delivering a great product or service but being terrible at marketing and sales.
2. Not getting the right kind of marketing or sales help in time, or at all.
3. No differentiation trying to market me-too/same-o/lame-o boring stuff.
4. Over-investing in fancy business cards, websites, and overly broad advertising.
5. A lack of expertise and thought leadership in their marketing focus.

"Advertising" and "sales" are not dirty words. They are the driving forces of economic growth and prosperity in our world today. Without advertising, sales are sporadic and left to chance; without sales, businesses fail and people lose jobs.

In my lifetime there have been three phases of sales:

1. The persuasive phase: fast talking, product peddling, feature benefit, and close.
2. The consultant phase: I want to learn about your business.
3. The business advantage phase. This is the phase we are in now.

In the business advantage phase, people EXPECT you to know about their business and they EXPECT you to bring something to the table that will give them a competitive advantage -- something they cant get from anyone else.

It doesnt matter what you sell, you have to be seen as an expert in your category -- a thought leader. If you are viewed as the expert, clients find you.

There are three vital qualities that buyers look for in a seller: 

1. Empathy
2. Expertise
3. Problem-solving skills

Empathy is the ability to understand, to put yourself in the clients position and identify with their challenges or frustrations. You are seen as empathetic. The more you prepare in advance for your calls with articles and questions specific to industry- related issues and how they relate to your client, the better. Empathy is careful listening and following up with questions that indicate understanding and concern.

Expertise is being known for what you know. Kevin Eismann is my attorney. I asked him how he can charge me $300 an hour? He smiled and said, Because I know s#*t you dont know. I have to hire him and pay him if I want his expert services.

Problem-Solving Skills -- Chris Lytle says, To know and not to do, is not to know. You can have all the empathy in the world, you can be seen as an expert, but unless you can SOLVE your prospects problems, youll never earn their business.

Want or need more sales? Try empathy, expertise, and problem-solving skills; thought leadership, marketing, and advertising. These are not dirty words; they are the battle cry of a sluggish economy, your blueprint for selling yourself, your products and services. Your mission is to get better at them all.

Billy Crystal played Mitch Robbins in the movie "City Slickers." In the final moments, after his exhaustive search for meaning and purpose, his loving wife tells him, Its okay. You can quit your job as an advertising salesman. He smiles and says, No, Im not going to quit my job, Im just going to do it better.

You can do it better, if you want.

Think big and make big things happen.

Jeff Schmidt is EVP/Partner with Chris Lytle at Sparque, inc.  He can be reached at

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