I was only 7 years old at the time. My brother’s friend scored field passes to the Denver Broncos training camp. (No, he didn’t win it in a radio contest, he earned it by surviving a plane crash.) I was wandering around the field, dodging practice routes and scrimmages. I sheepishly approached one player after another asking for their autograph. As per the rules, they gently let me down informing me that they weren’t allowed to sign autographs during practice, but would be available after practice outside their locker room to sign autographs. To a 7 year old boy, after practice was a million years away. I just couldn’t wait that long… So, I continued on my quest. Persistently asking every player for their autograph.
I saw this big fellow ahead of me. 6’5″ 240 lbs of pure muscle towering ahead of my scrawny 7 year old frame. He wore the number 73, and he seemed important. I approached him, put on my best smile and asked, “Can I please have your autograph?”
Simon Fletcher, kneeled down so he could respond to me face to face. He slyly turned his head to the right, then turned his head to the left, as if to make sure no one was watching us, and whispered to me, “Shhhh, I could lose my job for this!” and proceeded to sign his autograph for me.
Imagine that, A pro football player, who couldn’t possibly want anything in return from me, not only signed an autograph but made me feel important enough that he would risk his career for me.
It was the most magical experience. An experience that I remember vividly almost 25 years later. An experience that everyone else most likely forgot 25 seconds later.
Simon Fletcher took 30 seconds of his time to put my needs ahead of his, and the impact stayed with me 25 years later and counting.
Why am I telling you this story? It’s because it’s at the root of Melamed Style Marketing. It is at the root of true success in business, marketing, and life.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ” -Maya Angelou
Want to get the most out of your business? Stop asking yourself, “What’s In It For Me!” You want to reach people? You need to know what they care about. If people mostly care about themselves, the best way to reach them isn’t to only care about yourself too, but rather to care about them.
“The best marketing doesn’t look like marketing.” – Tom Fishburne
I know it seems counter-intuitive, but the best way to connect with people is to not want anything in return.
The best marketing comes from caring about your prospects and wanting to help them without hoping for or expecting anything in return.
Still, you have a business to run, a family to feed, and you need to get something in return to survive. Good news: it is built into human nature to reciprocate good deeds. It is built into human nature to support our friends. The math might be fuzzy about how one selfless act leads to profits, but it’s built into the world as a survival mechanism. We are built to join communities, contribute, build together, and prosper together.
Greed, lust and jealously are what break this magical formula… Good ole selfish greed, lust, and jealously are what drive a person to break the natural order of communities, herds, and tribes. This creates the self-fulfilling prophecy that sends you into a world where you are the only person that cares about you.
Let me ask you a question. If you knew that you would always get the better deal when dealing with Company A, would you go all-in…or fold?
If I can buy something at Costco, or Bed Bath and Beyond, I won’t buy it anywhere else because I know they would take it back no matter what, no questions asked. I know that they might even lose money on me. I feel like I always get the better deal, so I only shop there…and yes, in the long run they make a ton of money off of me!
Think About It This Way: People Are More Than Happy To Give You Their Money If You Solve Their Problems, But They Will Only Believe You Can Solve Their Problems If You First Prove That You Care About Them & Their Problems.
I am not advocating dependence on others; I am advocating inter-dependence. You can’t be interdependent until you master independence. Ultimately, you need to take responsibility for your life, your success and your behavior, but the best way to do that is to help others along the way.
We Have Become Obsessed With Data and Analytics and Forgot Those Numbers Represent Real People…We Can’t Just Count People Like Sheep.
Sure, I believe you manage what you measure and you should measure everything you can. I am just saying that sometimes you need to do things because they matter, not because you can track its impact.
I watched brands like Moz.com rise from a little blog into a company worth tens (if not hundreds) of millions of dollars. I cannot quantify the journey from A to B. I cannot prove that blogging every day, no matter what, led to that success. But I watched brand after brand rise up, like Copyblogger or ProBlogger or even Shoemoney by consistently delivering great content. Could they tie their success with data back to their early efforts? Maybe, to some degree, but they certainly can’t answer the question how Blogpost X from 8 years ago brought in Sale Y last week. But I assure you there is a connection, a connection that’s rooted in trust, and trust stems from caring.
These Brands Survived and Thrived Because They Built Communities of PEOPLE.
They Never Asked For Anything In Return For All The Content They Shared.
They Gave Selflessly and The World Reciprocated By Buying Their Products and Services.
You see, people buy from you for selfish reasons. They need to solve the problem your product or service solves. You need to convince them that you care about them as much as they care about themselves and when they see that your intentions are pure and your goals are transparent, they will gladly let you solve their problems and exchange cash for the favor.
If you ran any sort of advertising or marketing online you probably experienced the pain of a money-making strategy disappearing.
Whether you were slapped by Google, had your quality score yanked-out from under you, or watched your competitors saturate your market, you can probably related to the frustration. Even if you haven’t experienced this pain, you are probably overwhelmed by this fast-paced, dynamic internet marketing world where the moment to get on board with Facebook marketing, you have to start worrying about Instagram, Pinterest, and Vine. The internet is evolving so rapidly it’s almost impossible to keep up.
How is a marketer to survive in a world changing faster than you can read this sentence?
What you need is a timeless formula. One that can withstand the test of time and can translate from platform to platform, media to media, and ultimately customer to customer. What you need is Melamed-Style-Marketing.
What is a Melamed anyway?
Loosely translated, a Melamed is a teacher, but not just any teacher. The kind of teacher who is responsible for nurturing an inquisitive mind. The kind of teacher who inspires students to love, to grow, and learn. The kind of teacher that leads by example and is constantly working on his own self-development and improvement. You, no doubt, had one teacher in your life who reached you in a way that others didn’t. What made them different? What makes a teacher a Melamed?
“Who Is a Wise Person? He Who Learns From Everyone!” – The Motto of a True Melamed
Being a great teacher requires a respect for every single human being, especially children. Being a great teacher takes modesty. The type of modesty that enables you to learn from every person you encounter.
More importantly, being a Melamed requires a sensitivity to the fact that every person you interact with, every prospect, customer, student, friend, child or stranger is influenced by their experience interacting with you. This is a massive opportunity and responsibility. You literally have the ability to shape men, to influence others for the rest of their lives. Being a True Melamed means always keeping this responsibility at the forefront of your mind. Simon Fletcher was a True Melamed. He may have never formally been a teacher, but I would certainly buy anything he sold because I know he cares about each and every person, even those who he can’t benefit from.
Marketing as we know it is changing, dying actually.
The old strategies of reaching and influencing prospects was a result of scarcity. Scarcity in options and scarcity in resources. Today, we have an abundance. An abundance of everything – except time and attention. We filter out most marketing messages, even the relevant ones. For every problem we try to solve, we have too many solutions. How does one choose?
Relying on advertising? Ain’t nobody got time for that!
What is a marketer to do in a world where no one seems to know they exist?
Enter Melamed-Style Marketing, the new and only way to influence your prospects (and create customers for life).
What makes a Melamed succeed in educating our children? Is it his knowledge of the subject matter, or his ability to get kids to line up in a row? Of course not. It is his tender, loving care. Our teachers are able to reach us because we see how much they care about us. The moment we feel like our teacher doesn’t care is the moment that teacher can no longer teach us.
The first marketers we were exposed so were our parents and teachers. They sold us on a way of life. They invested their time and energy into leading us to a path of self-sufficiency and teaching us all the hard lessons they had to learn.
But, there are two types of marketers. Two types of parents and teachers. Those that lead by example and nurture self-esteem, those that inspired us to reach for the stars….and those that only sought to further their own agendas. Those that only cared about what the neighbors thought, or keeping their jobs as teachers. Those that disciplined out of anger, not out of love.
In short, there are good teachers and bad teachers. Good parents and bad parents.
There are also two types of marketers. Those that are truly trying to help their prospects and those that are only interested in taking their money. Here’s a thought: we had no choice about who our parents and teachers were. We had to suffer through bad teachers. but we don’t need to suffer through bad marketers.
Today, there is an abundance of choices. If you aren’t looking out for my best interests, if you don’t care about me… I will not give you my money. If I do, and you treat me poorly, I will ask for it back.
The best way to build a sustainable business in todays’ world is to be a True Melamed. To actually care…without expectation of getting anything in return!
I know, It still seems crazy and counter-intuitive. How can you build a business on the idea of giving away the milk for free? How can you make money if you don’t expect anything in return?
The answer though is at the heart of what Melamed Style Marketing is about… People still have problems that they would gladly pay money to solve. People still need products and services to meet their needs, wants, and desires. It is a sure thing that they will spend their money solving a problem or in exchange for value…
The only question is, “Will they give YOU their money, or will they give it to your competitors?”
Ok, I’m sold… but how do I apply Melamed Style Marketing to my business?
First, you need to start with WHY. Why did you get into this business in the first place? Why do you get up in the morning? What do you actually do care about? Your unique story is the bridge that will connect you with your prospects and show them that you care.
Once you understand the WHY… you need to focus all your efforts on your prospects. So, when writing your copy, don’t talk about your features, which is all about YOU, but rather talk about the benefits, which is all about your prospects.
When approaching a new channel, like Snapchat Marketing, you need to stop and think about your prospects. What do they do on this new platform? What format is the media they engage with? How do they share with others? When you care about your prospects, you will be singularly focused on their needs. This will give you the insight you need to adapt your messaging to fit the channel. If they consume personal pics on Instagram, send them personal pics from inside your office. If they consume short, goofy videos on Vine, give them short, goofy videos on Vine.
Native advertising is all the rage in media buying. Just like the platforms are trying to turn their advertising into the atomic, natural unit that users engage with, your marketing needs to follow that same formula. Think about your prospects and what THEY WANT and GIVE IT TO THEM!
“Before You Criticize Someone, Walk a Mile In Their Shoes…That Way, When You Criticize Them, You Are a Mile Away…and You Have Their Shoes!” -Jack Handy
Same thing goes with marketing. You can try all the empathy exercises you want, but until you understand where they are coming from and feel their problems so deeply that you NEED to solve them; until you care about your prospects as if you are solving your own problem…odds are they will find someone else who does care, and give that person all their money.
P.S. This is also why so many successful businesses started with the founders building something to solve a problem they had themselves. Or, in short…they cared!
Finally, and most importantly: always keep in mind that you have the power to influence people with every interaction. Take that opportunity and responsibility seriously! You will be happier and richer.