I’ve got a feeling this is one of those essays that’s going to turn OFF more people than it turns ON.
Heck, even the title reads more like something you’d find in a progressive academic treatise than in anything having to do with marketing.
But if you’ll stick with me for a minute, I think this ALSO has the potential to be a really big breakthrough in your understanding of human psychology… AND… Your ability to sell!
This may be something that you think you get at some level.
But — like so many things — when you bring it from subconscious understanding to conscious clarity, it becomes all the more powerful.
First, a side story…
I was on Skype with Brian Kurtz earlier today, and he shared an insight he’d picked up from Perry Marshall…
And I think this is spot on.
Perry breaks down information (especially the kind of business information that people buy) into two big areas…
— Philosophy, and…
Nearly everything I do at Breakthrough Marketing Secrets falls under the philosophy category. It’s what I think about. It’s what top achievers talk about. It’s what I’m most interested in. It’s what I want to talk about. All the thinking behind what works in marketing. The high-level strategy.
It’s also what’s hardest to sell, and what generally pays least.
Compare that to crack-cocaine. Crack-cocaine is tactics and systems and blueprints. It’s instant-hit sales boosts of 10%, 50%, 100%, or more. It’s the juicy nuggets. The one idea that will make you millions. It’s what all the newbies want, and what they’ll pay big bucks for, en masse.
For that reason, crack is easy to sell, and make a lot of money off of.
There’s a lot of folks who are happy to sell you a hit of crack, and make fast cash off you. Some of them are well-intentioned, some of them are sleaze bags.
All the best folks I know focus on philosophy, as much as possible. They may sell you a hit of crack to keep the lights on and ensure their business is profitable. But if they could, they’d rather give you philosophy all day long — philosophy you can use to get high without crack.
Today’s post is definitely all the way at the philosophy end of the spectrum…
So, I was listening to the Cracked podcast the other day, and they were talking about social class…
Now, Cracked is an interesting study in crack versus philosophy. Their website is full of click bait headlines.
These jumped out at me, on their site as I write this…
— 6 Bizarrely R-Rated Easter Eggs In Wildly Unsexy Video Games
— 5 Ways Movies Say You Can Die (That Science Says Are Wrong)
— 6 Famous People Who Were Way Too Honest On DVD Commentaries
— 7 Iconic Companies That Publicly Lost Their Minds
— 7 Ways The Media Is Trying To Sabotage Your Sex Life
— 5 Innocent Sounding Pop Songs That Are Actually About Drugs
— 6 Horrifying Secrets About Feel Good Historical Moments
… And NO, I won’t link to those, because I don’t want to lose you into a total black hole of click after click after click through the Cracked website…
Anyway, I discovered Cracked because they kept writing these dang good headlines that really compelled me to click. For business reasons. Research. Yeah.
Read enough articles from the same site, and you start to pay attention. They get “branded” in your mind, if you will. (That’s REAL branding — through customer experience, although because they’re a media company I’m a reader, not a customer.)
Anyway, when I saw that Cracked has a podcast, it piqued my interest.
The founder of the company and some of the writers get together and talk about all the research that they couldn’t fit into one of these incredibly compelling click bait articles.
They find topics they’re fascinated about, and dive deep.
And so on a recent show, the topic was social class. And about how we actually identify as much or more with our social class as we do anything else.
If you grow up in a poor white neighborhood, you’ll pretty much always associate yourself with that socioeconomic group — no matter how much you earn in life. (Take the lottery winner, for example.)
Same for poor black neighborhoods. Or poor Asian. Or poor Latino. Even if you grow up and build yourself into a financial success surpassing everybody you grew up with, you’ll still feel more at home among that class of people than you will in a group of people who group up in the middle class. Yes, there’s a racial overlay. But more often than not, when there are big assumptions made about a particular race, the focus is more on class differences than any race differences. (In fact, racial differences pretty much stop at superficial details like skin color, etc.)
Take someone who was raised in your own social and economic class, and it probably doesn’t really matter what they look like. You’re going to feel an affinity with them. You have to be the most extremely close-minded bigot to ignore all the commonalities and only see race in this instance.
(This is why so many white people brag about having “a black friend” but still don’t feel comfortable around the average resident of the predominantly black North Omaha neighborhood where I went to high school — it’s not about skin color, it’s about all the other signals of social class that people put off.)
So, what the heck does this have to do with marketing, selling, and business?
Now that I’ve probably offended a ton of people, and only the most open-minded of my readers are still with me, the payoff…
One of the most important things in selling is to get your prospect to know, like, and trust you.
Mostly, this happens on a subconscious level.
It’s an instinctual decision, NOT something you can manipulate consciously.
Here’s how class fits with this.
People naturally like and trust members of their own social class, once they get to know them. And it doesn’t matter if you’ve since become a millionaire.
TJ Rohleder, a business opportunity marketer and a Dan Kennedy student, is a great example of this. He’s a huge business success. He’s sold a TON of business opportunity programs, to who-knows-how-many buyers.
He’s a millionaire — probably a few times over.
He even bought the old hospital in the middle of his Kansas town — an entire hospital! And turned it into his office and direct mail operation.
Economically, he’s moved WAY outside of the class he came from.
And yet, he still embraces it.
Hit his website, and he’s totally up front about being a high school dropout. And a former factory worker.
His picture on the site isn’t in a suit in front of a Bentley and a mansion. He’s in a t-shirt and ball cap, standing in front of a cornfield. When he puts on seminars, he doesn’t wear a suit, he wears jeans.
Why does he do this, when he could surround himself instead with images of his economic success?
Simple: because he’s selling to himself.
That is, he’s selling to people of the same social and economic class as he came from. He’s selling financial opportunity to them, sure. So he has to ALSO talk about how he’s made a ton of money, even as this Kansas high school dropout.
But because he embraces his own class in selling to others in that class, he’s able to sell a ton more because of it.
Here are some other thoughts.
You’re not forbidden from selling outside of your class. That’s NOT what I’m saying. However, just know that it requires you to learn the intricate details of language and behavior of the class you’re selling to, IF you hope to get that natural liking and trust that come with class association. And the minute you start to feel like you come from a different class, be warned that the natural human bias against social classes other than our own will start to influence your prospect’s buying decision.
It’s not right or just or good — but it is how people work, in all our brokenness.
Also, class is really interesting in that there are natural biases against the people in one class BELOW and one class ABOVE our own.
That is, the average middle class person just trying to live a good life and still make sure ends meet probably has a natural distaste for someone who grew up lower class and is on food stamps and other government support. But they also have a natural bias against the multimillionaire — who they’re sure did something immoral or unethical to get that way.
I don’t necessarily recommend you start dissing on lower classes in your selling. But Bernie Sanders appealing to middle class white kids by talking trash against the billionaire class is the EXACT kind of example I’m talking about.
(This is also why the average successful entrepreneur has to work extra hard to make sure their kids turn out well — because when you move between classes it can be hard to pass down values to your kids who are now raised with at least one foot in another social and especially economic class than you were.)
Alright, I’ve probably done enough damage with one article…
I can pretty much guarantee I said something to offend at least one reader. That wasn’t really my intention, though. Rather, I think this is something that’s HUGELY influential in our everyday lives. Including in our buying and selling interactions. Very few people pay any attention at all to this. And I think there is a lot of benefit by at least being aware of how this is influencing you. The side benefit is you can also be aware of how it is influencing your selling process.
And maybe, just maybe, it could produce a breakthrough.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,