I’m running paid ads right now…
… And I’ve been called a “parasite.”
The following are my thoughts on this criticism, and the ethics of selling now.
Here we are in the middle of the coronavirus crisis…
Thousands of people have died. Hopefully that number doesn’t climb into the millions.
(We have to work together to avoid this — it’s not just the virus itself, it’s the overwhelm on the healthcare system that will be most dangerous. Social Distancing is 100% the right thing to do right now, and anybody doing otherwise is being both stupid and dangerous. If we don’t prioritize stopping the spread of the virus NOW, the eventual cost in lives, health, and money will be much, much greater. We don’t have the hospital capacity to let the virus run its course in an attempt to speed up economic recovery. Read that at least 3X.)
Also, businesses are struggling. There’s a major risk that many businesses shut down due to the Social Distancing measures will NEVER open their doors again. All sorts of in-person retail, restaurant, and entertainment operations run on such tight margins that this may break them.
One Federal Reserve economist believes we could see as much as a 50% drop in US GDP this quarter — that is, for every $2 that changed hands in the first quarter of last year, only $1 will change hands this quarter.
This has never happened before.
Humans have gone through pandemics, and come out stronger on the other side. We will do so again. Resistance creates strength.
But the interconnectedness of our global economy has been a blessing and a curse. The curse is how fast this has spread to basically every corner of the globe. The blessing is that we’re learning from each other at an incredibly rapid rate how we can contain this and minimize the eventual impact.
Nothing I’m saying is meant to minimize the real health and economic suffering that our fellow humans are facing right now. And…
We have to think long term…
I’ve tried to maintain this consistent message, for as long as I’ve comprehended the gravity of this situation.
We have to look at what’s happening. Do our best to predict a very uncertain future. And then take positive action toward making this future as good as possible, in light of everything.
For example, thinking long term means you do the hard thing today and shut down any nonessential businesses and other public gathering places, in order to reverse the EXPONENTIAL spread of the virus.
In the short term, this is hard. In the long term, it means we won’t have millions of people simultaneously infected and needing intensive care (which would absolutely break our healthcare system’s ability to handle COVID-19 or any of the thousands of other sicknesses that require intensive care).
Choosing the easy thing short-term (returning to normal life) could have economic impacts FAR BIGGER than a shutdown of even 2 months or so, which seems to be what’s necessary to get the virus under control.
If we can do the hard thing for the next 2 months, we won’t have to do the hard thing for who-knows-how-long as the entire system breaks under the weight of an unrestrained pandemic.
What does this all have to do with marketing and selling now?
Simple: when people are in the middle of doing the hard thing, and full of fear and uncertainty, they are EASY to exploit.
People do dumb things like buy ALL the toilet paper, because they are overcome with fear.
There’s nothing rational about buying all the toilet paper.
There are people who are looking at situations like this (of which there are many) and finding ways to exploit them.
They’re finding legitimate solutions for people’s fear, and jacking up the prices. Or they’re just straight up exploiting the fear in other ways.
All of this in the interest of short-term gain.
I’ve said this before, if you do this, there’s a special spot in Hell reserved for you. (And if you don’t believe in the afterlife, you should know that I believe Hell is as much in your mind as anything, and it won’t wait for you to be six feet under to find you.)
Don’t exploit the virus.
Don’t exploit the fear.
Don’t exploit people in a moment of vulnerability.
If you do this, YOU ARE THE PARASITE.
All of that said…
People WANT and NEED legitimate help right now, and the economy NEEDS businesses to be selling…
If you want to give things away, great. I am, too…
One little thing that I did for the next 90 days is to enroll in Amazon’s KDP Select program for my books, The Copywriter’s Guide to Getting Paid and The Ultimate Selling Story. If you do a free trial or are already a Kindle Unlimited subscriber as a way to occupy your attention during this time, you won’t pay any extra for the books. It’s a 90-day enrollment so those books will be free as part of KU until at least mid-June. (I’ve never had my books enrolled in this program.)
I also gave away my monthly Insiders Call recording from last week, around Strategic Thinking in a Time of Crisis. You’d normally only see that recording if you had a BTMSinsiders All-Access Pass, but I decided — along with the members who attended the live call — that it was too useful to keep behind the paywall.
I’m also continuing to provide as much FREE insight and guidance as I can from my limited perspective, in these daily Breakthrough Marketing Secrets emails. In addition, I will be doing more free content via livestream in the coming weeks, to both YouTube and my Facebook Page — please click those links and follow me there.
I’m also sharing new training with my paid-up BTMSinsiders members…
I’ve now posted over 3 hours of content in my updates to The Client-Getting Blueprint. It includes both the introduction/overview as well as all of Milestone 1, which covers how to create an offer when starting your client business. Yes, this is paid, but it’s focused first on delivering value. And that’s in addition to nearly 100 more hours of content, that’s just as relevant today as before the crisis hit.
Note the balance here.
I’m not afraid to make some offers, being respectful of the situation, while also moving the free line to give away more value.
Not only that, the value that I’m giving away is a mix of resources already in place as well as NEW resources being created to help where I can, which is helping businesses deal with the economic impact through marketing and communicating with their customers.
Here’s why I consider this to be critical…
ETHICAL businesses that succeed NOW will be the engines of recovery…
FIRST, if your business fails (and I know some businesses failures will be unavoidable), you will need social support to get back on your feet. I’m ALL FOR providing support to people who need it in a time of crisis. Including the business owners and their employees. But if you can do ANYTHING today to prevent your business from needing it, you are doing a social good. The IRS has made the point that even though they’ve extended the tax filing deadline, they need businesses and individuals who are able to file on time, because we need resources right now.
SECOND, if your business survives this, you can provide jobs. There’s going to be big changes that happen in our economy, as we escape the worst of this (and I don’t think we’re there yet). Many people who had jobs will need new ones. Businesses that are marketing and selling today, and helping people (in whatever way) will have those jobs to give. You will help recovery by ensuring as much business continuity as possible.
THIRD, if you are paying for ads that help people today, you’re doing them a service. The ad where I got called a parasite was a link to my video on Strategic Thinking in a Time of Crisis. I spend an hour talking about how to manage the crisis personally and in your business, focused on delivering value. All I ask for (but don’t require to watch) is an email address. I’m literally spending my own money to give away value. Sure, I want ROI on that eventually (hence hoping for some opt-ins), but I’m not forcing anybody to do anything.
All of this to say, many businesses have products that can help people in many ways, during this crisis. Whether that’s information to help with resilience and recovery, or other products and services to just help them live their life. And the more these businesses can actually sell during this time (without exploiting the situation), the better off we will ALL be. Because those businesses will drive the economy through the recovery.
I hope this is clear and coherent…
Ultimately many people believe that business itself — capitalism, the exchange of money for products and services — is parasitic. All while living a life of great comfort and luxury that has only come about BECAUSE of all the advances in civilization due to capitalism. Outside of this current crisis, we are living in the best time in the history of humanity to be born a human, and a large part of that is due to people creating products and services of value, with the hope of personal gain.
That said, capitalist systems are also full of parasites. Who readily abuse the system and the people within it EXCLUSIVELY for personal gain. And this isn’t just fly-by-night snake-oil salesmen. This includes people who climb to the heights of power in business and politics, who happily lie, cheat, and steal just to get theirs.
The simple action of selling things — inside a crisis, or in times of peace and plenty — is neither ethical nor unethical. It is HOW you do that, and for whose benefit.
If you are truly providing value at the time of the transaction, as a win for everyone involved (as well as the world at large), you are being ethical.
If you are using deception and manipulation to exploit the system — in or out of crisis — you are that parasite.
Six months ago or today, or six months from now. The same rules apply.
Go sell things that provide value. Our world needs you.
The best is yet to come.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,