About two weeks ago, I had one of the hardest weekends of my career. Many things came together all at once and pretty much brought me to my knees.
- Our wonderful, special dog Lucy has cancer. We rescued her from a very abusive situation and she's been a wonderful companion. She's fighting it well, but we don't know when and how the end will come. When we got her, she was terrified of men, terrified of newspapers, and had a bullet in her hip. Now she brings me the paper and is as sweet as can be. She's a Rottweiler and Labrador mix.
- I was experiencing really significant pain in my neck. I've been trying to avoid my third spinal surgery, and so far nothing is working and that's discouraging.
- I had just come off a very busy traveling schedule and was worn out. I was in an introspective mood.
I'm back to myself now, but that weekend will always be something to remember, for various reasons.
One of the revelations (resolutions?) that came from it is related to my business. It occurred to me like never before that I've been helping hundreds of clients sell more things for their clients, and much of the stuff they market for them is either shit we don't need or full of lies. That IS marketing, folks, except in rare cases when one of your clients accepts the notion of authenticity, honesty, and genuine concern for the world.
So how will this change my consulting practice? Well, I figure that prospective clients will still interview me over the phone to see if I'm a fit for their needs (that's a good thing), but I'm going to start interviewing them, too.
I've done it a half dozen times in the last two weeks, and the results have been fascinating. Here's the question I ask: "Why should I work for you? More specifically, what sort of work are you doing that changes the world for good?"
Even though we're on the phone at this point, I can "see" their eyes light up and they immediately (that was a surprise to me) tell me a story about a current client that fits the mandate I questioned them about. There was no hesitation, and nobody has been offended by it.
I have significantly more opportunity than capacity, so that makes it a tad easier to take this sort of risk. I'm just a little disillusioned by most marketing, which is full of lies and inauthenticity. As long as your client isn't evil, I think it's fine to take on that sort of work. But do what you can to nudge the client toward a better approach to marketing, okay? And toy with asking them why you should apply your significant skills to helping them sell whatever it is they do or make.