When selling, be yourself

I hold the title of M.D., which stands for Marketing Dude. People often ask how I came up with that. Believe it or not, it came from comedian Steve Martin.

Several years ago, I saw an interview with him on television, and Martin said he knew the only way he could make it in comedy was to “pervert it.” Straight stand up wouldn’t work in a world so full of comedians. He had to make it weird, different and zany, which is exactly what he did. And that’s exactly what I knew I had to do: be more than just another plain, vanilla, stuffed shirt marketing director.

Stealing Martin’s idea, I broke all the rules. The first move I made as the new M.D. was lose the suit. Yes, as crazy as it sounds, at one time I actually wore a suit and tie to work every day. That is until one of my customers told me I looked uncomfortable and to knock it off. I took his advice, peeled off the tie, ditched my socks, threw on a pair of jeans and never looked back.

Author and marketing guru Seth Godin defines marketing as “The contest for people’s attention.” He’s right; marketing really is just a fancy word for a constant push to get the world to look at you.

Along with Steve Martin’s strategy I also took Godin’s definition to heart and jumped in the mad contest for attention. After leaving the suit and tie behind, I created the fun yet memorable title of M.D. I have “Mad Men” style business cards, wear a wig in promotional videos, and include a picture of myself wearing sunglasses in my e-mails to customers. People are sometimes freaked out at my off-the-wall approach.

Don’t freak out, man. I’m just trying to get your attention.

Before I quit, I have to tell you about one of the best sales people I know in Newton. Her name is Brylie and she’s 10 years old. I recently bought a poinsettia plant from her, and before that, I bought a mum.

Brylie’s profits from her sales go into her “athletic account,” which help fund her participation in tumbling. Instead of her parents paying for everything, the girl gets out there and hustles. She earns it. That’s extreme ownership, and I’m impressed.

Even though it’s Brylie’s show, she does have a sales team. Her mom, Julie, handles promotion through social media. As she makes her sales calls, her dad, Dan, and little sister Kynlie tag along in the background for support. Kynlie refuses to be left behind.

I was going to tease Brylie on this round for not having a pen with her. But then I thought, maybe she did that on purpose to get me engaged in the sales process. Once I left her at the door to grab a pen, she had closed the sale. Who am I kidding? She had me sold the minute I saw her smiling face at my door step. Along with being a cracker jack of a sales lady, she’s also polite and puts up with me giving her a hard time. I wish more kids were this resourceful.

Brylie, keep up the good work. Look me up when hit working age. I have a sales job with your name on it.