Let the Flowers Sell Themselves: The Best Marketing Advice I Ever Received
Making sales has been a part of my job responsibilities since my first job at seventeen. I’ve taken sales training courses, and I’ve sold everything from telephone service to tarot cards to tie-dyes to social change.
I’ve hawked beaded jewelry at Grateful Dead shows and negotiated complex deals with difficult clients. I’ve knocked on doors for political candidates and sold tarot readings at street festivals.
Like everyone of a certain age, I had to make the leap to online marketing. I’ve been selling stuff since before we all had computers and mobile phones. While the technologies are vastly different, I think sales is sales, and marketing is marketing. Whether we’re doing it with an email list, a Facebook page, on a door step or a street corner, or in a café, sales and marketing are about making introductions, sharing information and creating relationships – nothing more, nothing less.
What is the difference between sales and marketing? Whether you are a one-person shop or a huge corporation, the concepts remain the same.
Marketing is the overall strategy to produce sales. Marketing is your message, and your plan to get people to hear and recognize that message.
A sale is the actual transaction.
Typically, marketing is required in order to make a sale. People need to recognize you, and have a comfort level with you, before they will spend their money.
In today’s internet world, so much of our marketing, and even our actual sales, can be conducted online, with no voice or face contact. This makes our online marketing strategy even more critical.
In the field of metaphysical practitioners, mystics and healers, there are an inordinate number of marketing gurus trying to convince us that a six figure income from life coaching is months away, if only we buy their sales course.
Many times these teachers have no sales or marketing training at all – they simply want to teach us to do what they claim they are doing.
These sorts of marketing classes are very appealing to we mystics and healers. That’s because marketing is often the scariest aspect of setting up a metaphysical business. Between shyness, lack of experience and fear of stigma, many fledgling healers feel they don't know how to market themselves, and turn to these gurus for help. Sadly, some end up disappointed and discouraged.
Often, these sales programs are really just cheer-leading sessions. “If you can believe in yourself, you can do anything”, and that sort of thing. To me, this seems dangerous and counter-productive. If healers are ready to work with the public, they should possess some inherent confidence in themselves and their work.
Sure, we all need encouragement, but to expect that a sales training program will replace the confidence that comes from years of practice and study is optimistic, to say the least.
Even worse, I have seen many metaphysical business trainers encourage talented students to hang their shingle long before they are ready. This is a problem for three reasons.
First, it discourages those who could have been successful if they hadn’t launched prematurely.
Second, it unleashes a passel of unqualified practitioners who don’t know what they are doing, and therefore reflect poorly on all of us.
Third, there is little or no vetting process to be accepted to these training programs. These trainers preach that anyone who wants to, can – regardless of actual talent.
Other marketing gurus try a one-size-fits-all solution, thinking that what made them successful will make anyone successful, rather than empowering each seeker to find what works best for them.
Sometimes, the daily onslaught of advertising for these marketing programs that we see in our social media feed can be quite disempowering.
In order to sell their questionable products, many of these sales gurus try to make us believe that we can never be successful because we are unaware of their special secret. It makes us wonder what we are doing wrong, and scares us away from seeking our own success. Sometimes it causes us to spend money we don’t have for something we don’t need.
In all my years, and in the variety of jobs I’ve worked, the very best sales and marketing lesson I ever learned came in one sentence, and from an unlikely source.
In the mid-late 1980s, I sold flowers on the streets of New Haven. Think of young me as a patchouli-infused Eliza Doolittle, if you will. I worked for Wallie Weisser, with whom I shared many adventures.
When I reported to the flower stand on the corner of Elm and Broadway for my first evening of work, Wallie’s father, Louie, was there to train me.
Louie was a retired bus driver. He told me some jokes to make me feel at ease. He showed me the prices, and how to wrap the flowers. I asked if I should hawk the flowers, or try to speak with passers-by.
Louie looked at me with a smile, and gestured broadly to the flower cart.
“The flowers are beautiful” he said. “Make a lovely display, and the flowers will sell themselves.”
He was right. Then I found I could increase the sale during my interaction with the client. They would stop to admire the flowers, decide to buy a small bouquet, and I had an opportunity to up-sell them, simply by engaging in conversation.
Truly, everything I’ve ever needed to know about sales and marketing is inherent in what I learned from Louie at the flower cart.
The way we present ourselves – our websites, our social media presence, our advertising – is just like the lovely display of flowers on the cart. It has to be eye-catching, attractive, and engaging. It has to inform people of what we are doing, and what we can do for them.
That moment when I would chat with the client and make the sale, is the moment we make our appointment and create a connection with our clients.
While there are some amazing metaphysical business mentors available to us, there are also many marketing gurus who work to create within us a sense of fear; fear that we don’t know what we are doing, or that we can’t be successful.
Before you sign up with someone who dazzles you with promises of easy money, consider that you might, perhaps, be better off to take a lesson from Louie, and simply let the flowers sell themselves.