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Why being a grumpy git makes your life fun and profitable…

You may already know this: I am a grumpy git.

And I’m nothing like your typical ‘millennial.’ In fact, I often do my best to steer clear of them. Nevertheless, the other week I got on the phone with a rare exception. An old colleague, Timo.

Timo calls himself ‘Finland’s top copywriter.’ Being a grumpy git, I’d usually say, “bollocks,” but in his case it’s probably true.

“You remember that American Express letter, Alex?” he said. “The one by Bill Trembath?”

Sure, I knew it. Every copywriter worth their salt knows it. The letter began with a famously grumpy opening:

‘Quite frankly, the American Express Card is not for everyone, and not everyone who applies for card membership is approved.’

“I had no idea how important that letter was until I went into business for myself,” said Timo.

Lots of people think of marketing as a happy, inclusive process. It’s not…

Marketing, first and foremost, is a disqualification process.

You’re shedding all the tire-kickers and bad customers before they suck up your time and money.

The further into your sales process these people travel, the more dangerous they become. That’s why it pays to weed them out early.

I state quite plainly on my welcome page – ‘If you are a troll or a whinge-bag, please do not join my list.’

I’m not being a douche.

I’m not trying to ‘give it attitude.’

I just really, genuinely do not want those people anywhere near me.

Because once they’re on your list, they’re getting your emails.

And once they’re getting your emails, they have the power to drain your time, energy and enthusiasm – flooding your inbox with silly complaints and hate-mail.

Worst of all, they may even buy something

There’s a fantastic David Ogilvy story where a potential client walked into the great man’s office.

However, something didn’t add up. So Ogilvy called the client’s previous agency.

“He needs a psychiatrist,” they said, “not an advertising agency.”

Few people would have the foresight to run this background check.

But Ogilvy did. And it probably saved him millions.

I know I’ve been stuck working with people who are unsuitable. It’s unbelievably uncomfortable. You always wish you could give their money back – and sometimes you can’t. Before long, all you want to do is get the problem off your desk. And this, of course, makes the job harder to accomplish.

You need to be a grumpy git to keep your standards high. However…

Being a grumpy git is not another ‘tactic’

It’s an attitude that comes from knowing:

  1. Who you are
  2. Who you want to deal with
  3. And who you want to avoid

Ben Settle is a good example. He has a typically grumpy message at the top of all his sales pages:

‘This product’s expensive,’ he says. ‘There are no refunds and all sales are final.’

That’s not to say you should do the same. (Money-back guarantees are still an effective way to get more customers accepting your offer.) It simply means, for whatever reason, Settle chose not to offer a guarantee.

It’s not a ‘tactic.’ It came from his personality and experience.

One of my new grumpy rules is that I do not work for clients offering corporate consulting. It’s nothing against them. I’ve just come to realise it’s an achilles heel of mine – and they can probably work better with someone else.

Again, this is not a tactic. It’s simply part of an attitude developed from knowing the answers to those 3 questions above.

So think for a moment…

Who are the worst people you’ve dealt with? What did they have in common?

Who are the best you’ve dealt with? What did they have in common?

What are you absolutely NOT willing to tolerate? Why keep it a secret?

Now go forth, onwards, and be a grumpy git.

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