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The Only True Measure of Success

I’ve been a salesman most of my life and still am. I sell advertising for my newspapers. I’m good at it. What’s this got to do with writing? Nothing specifically; it’s about all those sales pitches I receive about how to be a successful writer and sell my books. Writing is about the only thing everyone thinks they can do without practice or training. “One day I’ll sit down and write my life story, it will be a bestseller.” “I’ve got an idea for a novel and when I find the time, I’ll write it. It will be a blockbuster.” Business is a bit like that. People cook dinner so they think they can open a restaurant. Advertising is intangible. It’s trying to find an appropriate message and medium to sell your product, yourself, to make more money, to be a success. See where I'm going with this? Not yet? Hang in there.

To be a successful salesman you have to have a bit of larceny in you, a tiny bit of the con. You learn to spin the positive, skim over the negative, emphasize the dream. At some point the buyer makes that leap of faith, they pay hard cash for a concept they “hope” will return more than the outlay. Many times, I’ve known the campaign would fail. The product was no good, the price point was too high, the creative didn’t work, but this is what the client wanted and, what the hell, I’d take his money. Better he goes broke than me.

The only way to assess if advertising has worked is results. Results are sales, always have been, still are, always will be. If the sales didn’t increase, that didn’t stop me from going back to the client and trying to sell him again. I have a portfolio of reasons for him to continue spending his money. Let me list some:

- you're building good public relations. People will begin to watch for your next ad and that will be the one they respond to.

- the first ad always comes up short. You have to be persistent (keep spending).

- how do you know sales wouldn't have been even worse without the ad?

- it’s very difficult to figure out who bought because of the ad and who didn’t.

- those three people who came in with the coupon – they’ll tell all their friends about the great experience they had, and your sales will grow exponentially.

- if advertising doesn't work how come everyone's doing it?

Do you see the parallel to what all these pitchmen are telling you about spending money on that marketing seminar, conference, social media platform, and how-to-book?

Are they bad people? Am I?

Do they believe in what they’re selling? Sure they do in as much as if all the stars are aligned and numerous disparate elements all coalesce at the same moment then what they’re selling might work.

Should I spend money chasing a dream? Definitely. Should I be totally delusional about it? It might be easier, but no, I frankly can’t afford it. So, I try to choose wisely, if that’s possible, and ask to see results in sales not in website hits, re-tweets, profile views, etc.

The only result that matters are sales – always have been, are now, and always will be.

Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Rod Raglin