When my mom died, I was 21 years old.
By Christmas time of that year, I had met a boy. Not just any boy, but a boy whose mom had also died. So, like, we had stuff in common.
Except he had a tattoo with her name. Talk about making me feel like an asshole. I mean–I certainly didn't have a tattoo. Fuck, I barely knew where her ashes were in the midst of my year-long shock and haze.
I had known him 6 weeks. And then…Christmas snuck up on us. Sneaky bastard of a holiday.
And there I was, alone for the first time, with no where to go.
So naturally, the boy (surely out of pity) invited me to spend the holiday with him and his family.–
After much prodding, I finally accepted.
Mostly because I didn't know what else to do, and I couldn't bear the thought of sitting alone in my Philly apartment, with no Christmas tree and no one to bake my mom's favorite Italian Christmas cookies with.
But, of course, it goes without saying that when you walk into someone's house on Christmas Eve, without having ever met them before, well……it's a little awwwwkkkkkwaaaaaaaaaaarrrrdddddddddddd.
Here comes little orphan Ashley to hang out with a family that she's never met. Like, what are the social rules for such an occasion? For whom do you buy Christmas presents? What's appropriate? How much can I DRINK, goddammit?
But, the biggest worry on my plate was what to get Matt–the boy. I mean, I had only known him for 6 weeks. So that puts you in the can't-spend-too-much-or-it-will-be-inappropriate range, but also the, can't-spend-too-little-because-something-here-is-developing range.
Yeah yeah, you're going to tell me that it's the thought that counts. I know you guys. Shove it, will you?
I labored over this decision. I had to get him the perfect gift. The future of our entire relationship depended on it (clearly), and man did I like him. (I'm such a girl.)
Matt happened to work in the same office building as I did at the time, which is how we met. We started parking our cars next to one another every day as a sort of signal, if you will, yet didn't talk to one another for at least a month. Finally, his co-worker, who was an older woman, called my co-worker, who was an older woman, and inquired about my–ahem–status.
And that's how THAT began.–
But anyway. The Christmas present.
Fucking Christmas present.
I swear I had heart palpitations.
And the reason was because–gosh–I didn't know this guy from Adam.
(That's a phrase my mom used to use, so I thought I'd make a little tribute. Hi, mom.)
I mean, I knew what he looked like. I knew how he typically spent his days. I knew that he was a 27 year old single, middle-class male who made approximately $30,000-$45,000.
And guess what?
None of that shit helped me pick out a Christmas present for him.–
So what, Ash? What's your point?
The point is, of course, not related to Christmas at all, but related to selling. Duh. You know how turned on I get by everything marketing and sales. And you know how much it thrills me to take businesses and make them profitable. (Sometimes when I'm walking around Santiago, I'll see a business, analyze it in my head, and decide what I'd do to ramp up their marketing and bring in instant cash flow. It's like a sick game.)
The point is that…if I couldn't even pick out a Christmas present for this guy, after “knowing” him for 6 weeks and having a pretty good idea of his demographics…there's no way in hell I could ever successfully SELL him something.
Not like I'd be selling my boyfriend something anyway.
But here's the thing: Most people (especially small business owners) receive crap advice that they should market to a demographic. So, they study that demographic. And they get to know ridiculous surface details about that demographic.
But guess what?
I bet that if they were faced with the task of picking out the perfect Christmas gift for their so-called “demographic,” they'd fail miserably.
So how on earth will they ever successfully SELL them something?
(Hint: They won't.)
When you're looking to sell your services to a client, the best way to do it is to REALLY KNOW THEM. Not just know some superficial details about them. But REALLY KNOW THEM. Because only when you know them, can you EVER possibly figure out what will push their buttons and light 'em up inside.
Otherwise, you're left sitting at the
Christmas dinner table negotiating table going, “Uhhhh…uhhhh….I..uh….hope you like it?”
And that's the worst sales pitch known to man. Not even a rabies-filled raccoon on his death bed would buy something from you if that was your sales pitch.
Typical marketing advice talks all about demographics and knowing your customer in that sense.
Knowing my boyfriend's demographics couldn't even help me buy him a Christmas present, let alone assist me in selling him something, god forbid.
And knowing your ideal target market's demographics won't help you sell them anything, either.
Because guessing is useless.
And that's what you're doing when you're looking at stupid shit like demographics.–
Go ahead, Google it. I dare you.
You want to know your client as if you just spent the last 50 years living in the same house as them, putting up with all of their bullshit excuses, cleaning up their messes, and still loving them anyway.
And until you do?
You're going to suck at selling.
I hope this fills your heart with Christmas joy.
That wasn't my intention at all, but I figure it will help bring this post full-circle. You know.
In case you're wondering (I so know you're wondering), I ended up buying him and his brother tickets to go see their favorite comedian, who was coming to a nearby city in January. BEST GIRLFRIEND EVER AWARD, RIGHT OVER HERE, THANKYOUVERYMUCH. In the end, I actually did good. But only after I did a lot of digging and, uh, got to know him. Which is exactly what you need to do with your ideal target market…or forever hold your peace. And your purse strings.