Your Digital Self

We’re moving towards leaner, rougher, more authentic marketing materials, combined with more polished (and also more authentic) remote versions of ourselves

In Mad Men, Don Draper’s character didn’t really exhibit marketing or advertising skill but his selling skills were first-rate. This resembles today’s typical digital/creative agency principal. The Draper character:

  • Listens 80% of the time, speaks 20%; doesn’t say much apart from pointed questions until there’s something to say
  • Analyzes the problem he perceives, not the one that’s dictated to him; this lets him identify the unexplored selling point and propose a strategy for capitalizing on it
  • Leans forward, raises his voice, and creates eye contact when saying the most important thing.
  • Has professional integrity; happy to let a deal die if it’s a right fit in enough ways
  • Transfers happiness from himself or elsewhere to the audience he sells to

You can do all of that on a Zoom call – sell complex B2B services.

And Without “pitching”, the one sales act of Don Draper we probably don’t want to emulate in our businesses today.

I was and am a fan of Win Without Pitching because of this sentence: “Experts write.” Because the book makes a strong case for content marketing – though content marketing by itself no longer does what it once could. I remember writing a blog post in 2007 about Highrise vs CRM software and the next day Jason Fried left a comment. That doesn’t happen anymore for the Internet-not-famous such as me. ((Looking up the post on the Wayback Machine, I see that I wrote, a web based CRM, however simple, should have at least two ‘relationship’ features: (a) form publishing tools, to create contact relationships efficiently and (b) email marketing tools, to maintain contact relationships efficiently.)). Content marketing requires tremendous effort now and it’s worth it to divert some of that into other marketing activities. Still though, “expert write”. That’s what makes them an expert; that’s why ghostwriting is hardly better than advertising.

Anyway, another question I have about the book is the idea that you don’t pitch at all. I think it’s more that you don’t spend much effort pitching. You don’t have to make a deck or a PDF or infographics or product “copywriting” per se. You compress your pitch into one unvarnished sentence in a normal email. Maybe two.

Idea assets in sales and  marketing should telescope (verb). Every length from a single sentence to an entire book has its place in your arsenal.

Just as the book Pricing Creativity makes the case for one-page proposals over 30-page ones.

Just as 300-page books are pitched as one-page queries to publishing houses.

Just as a case study can be compressed into one sentence –  why should a case study be a certain length. People think a case study needs a serious tone but length doesn’t help there.

Here’s a case study: We provided [company] with [thing you provide] giving them [results/implied problem]. One sentence.

Do longer, traditional-length case studies work better? Maybe and only if they’re extremely well written. Especially if you don’t do any content marketing. But they are also less flexible. You can write 100 one-sentence case studies in the time it takes you to write 1 traditional one. 

That’s what works for me anyway – if accompanied by my Zoom self. The web-conferenceing-self is partly manifested by assembling the right home studio tools and practicing using them((In the future, every knowledge worker will have a home radio/tv studio; COVID-19 won’t quite get us there though)). Act now and you can still have a more professional office than half the news anchors on “cable TV” – “cable TV” is like the rest of the news programs on YouTube, except better makeup and lighting and slicker virtual backgrounds.

That’s really the key though: your pitch, your case study, your proposal, whatever you want to call it – it has to be accompanied by you, live. As the author of Win Without Pitching says, a proposal is like a small child: it should never be let out of the house without a chaperone.

Not sure the pandemic economy lets indulge in the luxury of marketing materials, let alone in-person visits. So I hope we find a way to say our piece in fewer words, with our talk-less, listen-more digital selves taking questions.

My best,