Story, mythology, Real Value, and a bit about Capitalism
Believe it or not, you can create profit (a lot of it!) without making profit your priority.
If that’s got your brain in a twist then what’s really going to get you fired up is the fact that the blueprint for this was the original plan of capitalist systems… before it got royally fucked and twisted…
This one comes on the heals of a question sent my way after the last few blog entries.
“How do we generate a profit in our business if we aren’t focusing on profit as a motivation?”
This is a very good question. For a mind trained within a system of win-lose dynamics, it will naturally look a little backwards. If we’re not trying to make profit, how are we going to make a profit?! To answer this we need to dig into what capitalism was, at its inception, really about.
It goes like this:
In a free market system where everyone is entitled to the right of creating and running their own businesses, the basic principle that started the party was value creation not profit margins.
Create things that are actually valuable for people that want to buy them, and you have a business.
But if you’ve seen the modern battlefield of business, you know this is no longer the guiding inspiration. If you’ve been in business for a hot second, you’ll have seen marketing gurus tell you to “Find your audience’s pain and make it very obvious that it’s a problem. Then position your product as the solution. They’ll motivate themselves to buy just to get out of pain and you profit!”
If you’ve ran into an exceptionally manipulative ‘guru’ you’ll have heard, “Create a pain that your highly-profitable product can probably solve, and press it so hard that they will do anything to get out of pain, and pay any price you want!”
Did you catch that?
Find or create a pain, press it, point at it, and make it REALLY obvious, and then offer them your product so that they’ll buy without even thinking? Ew.
Unfortunately this has been a standard market practice for a while. Why? Because profit motivated business. And it still work because whether you can actually help or not, if you convince someone you can solve their pain, they’ll dive on the chance to feel better.
Despite all of that, it also creates a monumental opportunity for you to create massive actual value and differentiate yourself from anyone else offering anything even remotely like you.
Here’s the deal.
I recently read ‘Story Wars’ by Jonah Sachs. In it, he expertly connects the human connection to mythology back to the origins of our language. We not only have a history of telling stories, but we need stories to feel connected to the environment in which we live. Stories are a cultural and psychological mechanism of the human species evolved to keep us in touch with the changing world around us, and to each other.
Shameless plug that I don’t get paid for, if you’re anywhere near the marketing and branding end of a business, go read this book.
So, basically, at some point the gap between the mythos we were telling became much too far from the reality we were living.
Basically, our stories became unbelievable. They didn’t resonate with our every day lives, and we ended up mistrusting them.
Enter stage left: Marketers.
Marketers took this gap and ran with it like a chicken with a grub in a hen house. They found an opportunity to tell stories that sold products. And not only that but people were so hungry for stories that they didn’t even have to tell good stories. And they surely didn’t need to tell complex ones.
They gave us stories about clothing brands, drink choices, and beauty products that we could associate with; on the one side was a shared cultural experience (pain), on the other was a product that fixed it.
It took very little time for marketers to take advantage of this.
‘You mean I can write a little bit of advertisement copy and sell this cheap, sort-of-toxic face cream by the truck load? Sign me up!’
‘You’re telling me this drink has so much sugar that their brain will tell them to buy it, I just have to give it a few catchy slogans and I’m rich? Done!’
Onward it went.
Until we end up here: You’re reading this blog because by intention or accident you found out that I’m breaking down the cultural and logistical ways to not only move your business into the emergent transition wave that will define our survival, band increase your personal gains in the process.
So, what’s the game plan?
You’re going to revive the real intention of capitalism in your business.
It’s going to be easier than force a product into their hands,
and probably take you less energy and time to do it.
Create both REAL and PERCEIVED value for clients that are HAPPY to pay for it.
What is real value?
- Anything that actually makes their lives better, their health improve,or the world a better place. Anything that is a win for the client and a win for the globe. Look back at the article about win-win dynamics. Real value will qualify as a win-win.
What is perceived value?
- This is what your client wants. What they desire. What they feel they need in their life. It’s pretty straight forward. Give them what they want.
What about this happy to pay situation?
- You’ll know you’ve nailed it when people are excited to pay for what you’ve got. As Daniel pointed out: look at Tesla. Despite the fact that they’re expensive, people are not only happy to pay but they’re going to tell all of their friends, family, and social media followers. This is your litmus test for your product.
When you find the point in your industry where these intersect, you’ve got something. Now your mission is to tell stories -positive ones- that in the philosophy of Jonah Sachs, put your audience as the hero and your your brand as the mentor, assistant, or helper. Make them feel like they have the potential to be a bad-ass, and then share with them how your product or service can (only if it actually can!) help them along the way.
Now, if you want to step this up a notch, or you’re just starting out, there’s another little triad that has been an excellent guide for many entrepreneurs:
Find the intersection between YOUR passion, YOUR expertise, and value to your CLIENTS.
Said simply: If you aren’t good at it, or you don’t like doing it, or your clients don’t want it, you don’t have a business.
Now you’ve created a pentad of power.
The place where these line up is where you will serve awesome clients better, while making a positive impact and having fun doing it.
You really can’t go wrong there, and the profits are now a byproduct instead of a priority. You get paid when you actually do what you say.
You don’t get paid when you create bad products. Bad doesn’t always mean they suck.
Sometimes it simply means removing graffiti from your favorite city spots.
Sometimes it means you’re not quite the expert yet and you could do better.
Sometimes it means they want it but it’s not actually good for them or the world.
Check your business and your product or service against these five measures.
Be honest with yourself so that you can be honest with your audience,
They’ll love you ten fold if they can tell you’re being the real you.
If your business drifts out of this sweet spot, it’s time to rethink your business, or close shop. You’ll be contributing to a better future and you’ll probably receive more money and feel better doing it than if you kept trying to sell the one that wasn’t working.
If this feels like an oversimplification that’s because it is, in fact, pretty simple. In a world economy driven by race-to-the-bottom competitions, your mission, and your path, is pretty clear: create value, tell the truth, and tell your story.
Profit isn’t a motivation in this recipe, but profit will result from it.
This is because of the simple fact that when you create something your audience actually wants and needs, they’ll gladly pay you for it.