Alan Donegan: PopUp Business School Co-Founder, Entrepreneur, Financially Independent Pizza Lover, Marvel Movie fan and soon to be Script Writer
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As you walk down the street there are messages on the bus signs, billboards and shop windows. There are adverts on the TV, the radio stations we listen to and if you log onto social media there are endless targeted adverts directed at you.
There is a war raging around you. Some of the smartest, best trained and well funded people in the world are trying to crack the code to your purse/wallet. Who is going to win? The marketeers or you?
You might be thinking "come on Alan this is a bit overly dramatic!!" Let's look at this a bit further together.
If you live in the UK, America, Europe or most of the developed world you live in a capitalist society. This society is powered by the exchange of money for goods and time. Your employer probably pays you a certain amount a month in exchange for your time and then you exchange that money for food, accommodation, transport etc.
Where things get interesting in capitalism is that there are endless options for you to spend your money on! You can buy anything, from extravagant holidays to 3 dollar cookies, from streaming services for your favourite movies and music to 100s of varieties of cars.
There is HUGE competition for your dollars or pounds. If you are spending money on a car you have so many different options you could spend your money on.
Every single one of these car manufacturers are competing to get your money. Let's say you spend $3000/£2000 a year on cars. You can only spend that with one manufacture (unless you own two cars!) and so they want you to spend it with them! BMW alone spent $3.1 BILLION advertising their cars to you in 2016.
Take a second to wrap your head around that. BWM have teams of people globally creating advertising and spending $3.1Billion to get you to buy with them. That's almost 50 cents per person on the planet just to sell cars. They are out to get you money and they would not be doing it if they weren't getting a return on that investment! It works!
We are bombarded with adverts selling us cars when we listen to the radio, watch television or log into social media! These companies are working SO hard to get you to spend with them. In total they spent $35 Billion selling to you and that is without the staff costs for sales & marketing staff!
These automotive companies are waging a battle to get the money you are going to spend on a car to be spent with them. Not only that but then they are trying to get you to up your spending. When you have decided you want "X" brand they then try and sell you the upgraded model, the large alloys, leather seats and more.
First they fight so hard to get you to choose them and then they are HIGHLY trained in getting more out of you. Open your wallet or purse an inch and they will take a mile!
The median salary for a marketing manager in the USA is $136,850 a year! They pay really really well to hire people to persuade you to part with your money!
There are over 60,000 results for marketing books on Amazon! 60,000 books written about persuading you to part with your money and give it to an organisation.
As you blissfully walk along the street next time, headphones on listening to music maybe you'll become a little bit more aware of all the people trying to get your attention and get a slice of your income.
Or hopefully you won't! You will be able to blissfully walk along and avoid these marketing messages!
Last year US companies spent $70 billion on sales training for their staff. That is an average of $1,459 per sales person.
Talk about a highly trained and skilled worked force. Not only this they are compensated for how much money they get out of you. Sales people are paid commission for every sale, sometimes on the size of the profit. They are literally motivated with cash to get more money out of you!
This can lead to some icky sales behaviour and is the main reason why when you ask people what words they associate with the word "Salesman" they say things like pushy, sleazy and unscrupulous.
In my mid-twenties I joined a major photocopier sales organisation in sales. For my first day they sent me to shadow a senior sales person for the day to learn what he was doing. He took me to his sales meetings and told me to watch and listen.
Later that day, we walked into a fancy London office and he introduced me to an office manager that he had been working to sell a new photocopier to for a while. We were there to sign the new paperwork and get the sale for the new machine.
He talked the office manager through the paperwork. Here is the price, £1000 ($1400) a month, here is the term of the agreement, 3 years, and the other details. I watched as he wrote in pen on the order form as he talked the office manager through it.
As he said the term of the contract I heard him say 3 years but he wrote 60 months (5 years) on the form. I saw him make this mistake but I didn't want to show him up so I stayed quiet for the meeting.
The office manager trusted him and took the form off to the director to get the signature. He signed the form as he trusted the office manager and it was returned to us. We all shook hands and we left the building.
Once outside I confronted the senior salesman: "You know you said three years but wrote five on the form?" He looked at me, smiled and said "yes"
I was left confused and started to figure out how much money he had just ripped off that company by. An extra 2 years at £1000 a month, that was £24,000 extra profit he had generated by lying to them.
When we got back to the office at the end of the day I went to the office manager to tell him what had happened. I was appalled and confused. I told him the story from the day and can you guess his reaction?
He looked at me and smiled. Then walked away.
I didn't last long at that company but I did learn an important lesson to check every contract thoroughly before signing it. I am an absolute geek for making sure the contracts are tripled checked.
I think 95% of sales people are ethical and I know that there is a way to sell ethically, but I want to help you understand a few things:
How to get wealthy
The path to wealth is incredibly simple but hugely challenging. here are the simple steps:
In some ways it is super easy. Stop buying shit you don't need, things that are expensive and save that money instead.
But is it any wonder why this is so difficult with marketing teams and sales people after our cash! Social media influencers posting about living their best lives, wearing fancy brands, staying in incredible hotels and the pressure to keep up with the Joneses by spending more.
If it is that easy then why do so many people own BMWs, Mercedes and Audis and complain about not having very much money?
There is a war for your dollars and pounds? They are out to get your money?
Financial independence is simple but can be incredibly tough and one of the main reasons is the companies, teams of marketing people, influencers that are out to get you to spend more!
Resisting the temptation
In this war you need to arm yourself, defend yourself and prepare for battle. Sounds dramatic doesn't it, but I really do believe this. These teams and companies are spending billions on training designed to help them get you to part with your cash.
What are we doing to prepare ourselves for this battle?
Most people walk into a car show room looking to buy a car with zero negotiation training, zero sales training and zero preparation.
Who is going to come out on top? The untrained civilian or the highly trained and financially motivated sales person?
Here is how you can prepare yourself for the war for your money:
They are out to get you
They really are out to get you to spend more and part with more cash. Get prepared as you enter into the daily battle for your money and attention.
The better you get at negotiating, realising how people are selling to you and avoiding making purchases that won't benefit you the better your finances will become.
Is it any wonder that people struggle to spend less when our entire culture is designed to help us spend more!??!
My hope is that this article has helped you to be a little bit more prepared for when you next enter the battle for your dollars (the next time you go to a shop, look at social media, turn on a television or leave the house!)
Good luck keeping your money in your wallet or purse so that you can spend more of it on what matters to you..........
Then comes the fascinating journey into investing what you save........
Thanks for reading the blog, please share it with your kids, with your friends that spend a little too much, with your family. Let's help each other to stay strong in the war for your dollars/pounds!
Photo taken by R.V. Jenkins. Thank you.