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September 26th, 2010 | Author:

Whether you have a product business or offer a service or are a published author trying to market your book, you can’t sell any of those things until you learn how to sell yourself.

Think of commercials. How many times do you remember what the product or service is during that 30 seconds? Unless you specifically want or need what they’re selling, most of the time people remember other things about what they see and hear. Haven’t you heard someone say something like, “Oh, what’s that commercial with so-and-so in it?”  They don’t remember what that person is selling but they remember the actor.

I once heard that a company can sell anything if they use a kid, especially a cute kid or a dog and especially a cute dog, or better yet to use both. People are more likely to remember the who than the what.

The same goes for your business. Who knows how many websites there are in the world? The competition is tougher all the time. Unless you are one of the big guys, it’s hard to get noticed and sell anything. So what can you do?

Sell yourself, not your product or your service. What is it about you that makes you different? People have so many choices for things, many times it comes down to who is selling it.

I started my Pencil Bugs business at age nine. In the beginning, I held many sidewalk sales where  I would get a store’s permission to set up my table outside and sell my Pencil Bugs. Even at that age, I quickly realized that many customers bought my products simply because they wanted to support a kid’s business. Did they really need a pencil topper? Probably not but before long, people knew my business because of me — “the Pencil Bugs kid” and that was fine with me. Looking back, I now see that I was also building my brand.

Selling is an art. It’s who you are that matters and that is what will make people stand up and take notice.

My grandpa has a saying that is a perfect sales analogy. “Old Harry could sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo.” It’s the person who makes the difference, not the product. Well, you get the point. And if you haven’t bought my new book yet, Bitten by the Business Bug: Common Sense Tips for Business and Life from a Teen Entrepreneur, I share a lot of Grandpa’s wisdom in it. You can read excerpts from my book using Amazon’s Look Inside feature if you’re interested. Then buy a copy on Amazon or get an autographed one from my website. It’s a fun read for all ages. A portion of all sales is donated to help kids at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, CA. I also have a big teddy bear fundraiser I do for the kids at Christmas. If you want to read more, visit The Bears Are Back in Town.

So do you need a pencil topper or another inspirational book or have you already donated your limit for this year? It’s not about the products. It’s about the person behind the products. Thanks to everyone who continues to support me, my business, and my charitable efforts. Because of you, I have been able to encourage other people of all ages to try their ideas. It’s good karma.

October 01st, 2009 | Author:

A lot of people use the TV commercials for bathroom breaks or getting a quick snack.  Me?  I actually like watching the commercials too.   Some are so funny but the ones I don’t like are the ones about medicine.  It seems like there’s a medicine for just about everything and some of the so-called diseases or problems are just plain silly.

Take for instance RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome).  I think the drug companies give common problems a name just so they can justify and sell their drugs.  My grandparents are 76 and 85 and still do all the work themselves on their ranch.   Grandpa’s solution for someone with RLS is to get out there and do something like walking around or exercising in some way.  It makes sense that if you just sit or lie around all day that your muscles won’t work as well.  It doesn’t take a scientist to figure that out.

There are lots of drugs that companies are making for different problems.  But have you really listened to one of those commercials?   Just the other day I saw a commercial for a drug called Chantix which is supposed to help people quit smoking.  Quitting smoking is a good thing so everyone should try the best they can, anyway they can . . . but.   As I was watching the commercial where an old guy was talking about how it helped him, the narrator started telling all the side effects the drug could cause.  The commercial seemed to go on a lot longer than most 30-second commercials so I decided to rewind the DVR and time it.  Here is the unbelievable part.

The advertising FOR the drug lasted just 40 seconds and the warnings AGAINST the drug went on for 110 seconds.  It was a 2 1/2 minute commercial.  Those aren’t cheap and the fact that the warnings took longer than the advertisement should make people who might be considering this drug to reconsider.

All drug commercials have warnings about possible side effects but I’d worry when they say taking the drug could cause you to think about suicide but stopping the drug could also make you think about suicide.  Geez! You’re taking a huge risk either way.  I wonder how the FDA can even allow companies to make drugs that could make people think about suicide.  That doesn’t make any sense to me.

My grandpa quit smoking about 30 years ago.  He didn’t use any drugs and wouldn’t have anyway even if they would have been around back then.  He just quit ‘cold turkey’ as he says.

Anyone can do anything they choose if they just set their mind to it.   You don’t need dangerous drugs to do it either.  Of course what do I know?  I’m still 13 and my worst habit is wanting to play video games too much.

From this kid’s point of view, I’m just saying, maybe it’s better to rely on your own will power than to depend on some drug that some company says will work but the side effects could make you worse off than before.

March 18th, 2009 | Author:

Awhile ago, my parents were talking with someone about marketing ideas but it wasn’t specifically about my business.  In fact, the guy didn’t even know I had a business.  After they talked for awhile, he made a really interesting comment.  He said it’s a lot easier to advertise and sell just about anything if you have any of the following associated with the product or service.

  1. A kid
  2. A cute kid
  3. A dog
  4. A cute dog

When Mom and Dad told me what the guy said, we all had a good laugh.  Then I started thinking about different ads I’ve seen on TV.  Doesn’t it make you want to buy whatever the product is if you see a cute little kid playing with a fluffy puppy in a commercial?  Even as a kid myself, I notice those commercials more and I bet parents, or even adults that aren’t parents, do too.

I haven’t done research on this myself but apparently there is a lot of money spent on kid-related products and pet items.  So I guess the guy’s comment sort of makes sense.  At least it’s something to think about.  Hmmmm?  🙂

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