What You Really Get Paid For


As anyone who’s ever started a business can confirm, there are plenty of unknowns when it comes to being an entrepreneur. “Who’s my target customer?” “Should I have employees?” “What kind of website do we need?” “How much should I charge?” And many, many other questions besides.

But before you go too far down any of those paths, pause a moment and ask yourself this key question: “What Business Am I Really In?”

It’s a critical question and one you need to ponder carefully. And it’s not necessarily as easy to answer as you might think. Consider what Charles Revlon had to say about his: “In the factories we make perfume, but in the stores we sell hope.”

There are a great many important principles represented by Revlon’s simple statement. Too many business-people are product obsessed, or technology obsessed, and completely misunderstand what it is that their customers are really buying. Even businesses selling tangible products are really selling intangibles.

What business you’re really in isn’t just the stuff you brew, bottle, and sell. Your business boils down to the considerations of people (i.e., your customers) and what THEY want and how THEY view what it is you offer for sale. Revlon’s quote demonstrates that he clearly understood this and some key truths about the people he chose to become his customers:

  • People long to make things better. They may not be willing to work very hard at it, but the urge is there, always bubbling beneath the surface.
  • People are easily stimulated to optimism and generally prefer feeling optimistic to pessimistic, given the opportunity to do so.
  • People join churches, multi-level companies, start businesses, move to new towns, enter new relationships, go on diets, etc. all based on the hope that doing these things will make them richer, happier, thinner, and healthier. In short, they invest in hope time after time, pretty much regardless of how prior similar investments have worked out.

When you take the time to understand these things about people and what they want, desire, and need, then you can incorporate them into how you market your business.

Note that I did NOT say you use this in what you DO in your business. Focusing on what you DO over how you MARKET will cost you dearly – especially over time.

The business you are REALLY in is “MARKETING”!

When the perfume maker becomes a marketer of fragrance; the jewelry storeowner becomes a marketer of fine jewelry; the carpet cleaner becomes a marketer of carpet cleaning services; and the chiropractor a marketer of chiropractic care, etc., he or she takes a quantum leap up in income potential.

Most service business owners, small business owners, self-employed professionals, and consultants all view themselves as “doers” of what they do – with the task of getting people to pay them to do it a necessary evil.

The marketer, however, sees the acquisition, retention, and value maximization of the customers as his primary role – with the actual doing of the service the necessary evil.

Simply put: Marketers are much more valuable and highly paid than doers.

This is very, very difficult for doers to accept. When you go to any trade convention, such as the National Speakers Convention, at least 80% of everybody’s conversation is about the doing, not the marketing. In the cocktail lounge, people tell each other what they do: “I speak about X, I’m an expert in Y.” In the meetings, they endlessly rehash platform speaking techniques. If one asks another what they do, the answerer will define himself by his topic.

This is not unusual. If you go to a chiropractic or carpet cleaning or computer programmer’s convention, the focus will be on chiropractic technique, new chemicals and equipment, and new software.

If you ask most businesspeople what they do, they’ll define themselves as a doer of a thing, rather than as a marketer of that thing.

From the beginning, when asked the question, I would explain that I was in the speaking and consulting businesses. To me, what I did on stage or in the boardroom was not the main issue.

Being in those businesses (i.e., marketing those services) was.

This attitude or view or definition of who you are and what your business REALLY is has enormous impact on how you allocate your time and energy.

The doers of things do those things and get around to marketing if there’s “time left over.” And often they will say they’re no good at marketing or selling. Or that they don’t like it or want to do it. In this way, they box themselves in to forever being a “worker bee” rather than a “Queen Bee,” and to forever working harder rather than smarter.

Obviously, technical skills related to the delivery of a quality product or service is important but they are not nearly as important as the ability to market those same products or services.

And it is infinitely easier to delegate the doing than the marketing in just about every business, because there are plenty of good doers who are terrible marketers, who, because of that, can be hired for cheap.

In fact – by focusing MORE on becoming an accomplished Marketer of things and/or services, you massively increase your potential for wealth and success.

The “professional marketer” masters the skills of direct marketing without being limited to any one product category or media in the application of those skills.

Great marketers have an intense interest in marketing; a marketing orientation or mind-set that other people don’t have or cultivate. We are fascinated by marketing. We “think” marketing all the time. In a restaurant, we notice what advertising they have on the table, how the copy is written on the menu, whether or not they upsell, whether or not they do name capture. We’re constantly alert for ideas we can use.

I might add – there is no higher valued and rewarded skill on earth than the ability to get something sold. In corporate bureaucracies, the top management’s compensation is always pushed higher than their highest paid salesman, but outside of that controlled environment, the sales and marketing “stars” always make more money than the makers of products or providers of services being sold.

Bottom Line: If you want to increase your personal earning power in the business you’re REALLY in, the answer is always to focus on becoming better at MARKETING and not at Making.

[Ed Note: Provocative, truth-telling, best-selling author, speaker and direct-response marketing consultant and copywriter Dan S. Kennedy is a serial, successful, multi-millionaire entrepreneur; trusted marketing advisor, consultant and coach to hundreds of private entrepreneurial clients running businesses from $1-million to $1-billion in size. For over 30+ years he has created winning campaigns for health, diet and beauty products and companies, B2B and industry products including software, and investments. He’s now sharing his secret with the Lifestyle Liberation Blueprint. You can find more here]