“You don’t get something for nothing.”

Such is the received wisdom, especially in business. Even if a product or service is ostensibly free, it’s generally going to be a loss-leader, or at the very least a fast-track to endless spam mail and aggressive sales calls. Right?

Wrong.

Since I started my company back in August, I’ve received so much great advice from so many different people, and I’ve read tons of literature about how to make your startup successful. But one theme that keeps recurring is the mantra not to undersell oneself.

In my previous agency role, I spent more than a decade working with Harley-Davidson Motor Company. Harley is notorious for its premium market position: they don’t do discounts, they don’t do loss-leaders, they don’t do gimmicks. If you want a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, and everything that goes with it, you pay for it. And people do.

But I’m not Harley-Davidson. I don’t have more than a century of engineering excellence behind me. I know that I’m good at what I do, but at the moment only a handful of other people know that. So, in order to make my business a success, I need to enhance my reputation.

I’m aware that in this article I’m ‘breaking the fourth wall’ of marketing, but that’s just who I am. I care about people, about communities, about feelings. I want to build relationships. Naturally, some of those may turn into business relationships, into revenue, into profit; but more important than that is the cultural capital I will accumulate along the way.

The people with whom I converse along the way are not ‘warm leads’; they’re people. Real people, with hobbies, pets, families, problems and idiosyncrasies. We may exchange cards and end up doing business together, or we may not.

I love talking about words, about content, about communication; I love strategising, dreaming and building things using words. But, more than that, I love people. I love talking, listening, enthusing, debating… it’s so much more fundamental to the human experience than selling things.

So reach out to me. Say hello. Ultimately, we may or may not help each other to enrich our businesses, but we’ll definitely brighten each other’s days.

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