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Lesson #4: How to Be an Advocate, Not Just a Salesperson

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Ruslan Kogan has really positioned himself as the underdog in the electronics market, taking on the big boys like Gerry Harvey and giving the consumer lower prices by allowing them to order online and cutting out the traditional retail overheads.

In doing so, he’s positioned himself as the customer’s champion and an advocate for online retail.

He’s a great Australian success story who has taught a lot of young entrepreneurs and even older entrepreneurs, that there’s always a better way to do something.

The by-product of Kogan advocating for the consumer is that he’s made a lot of sales. Let’s re-iterate that – being the advocate for his industry (online retail) has led to him making a lot of sales under the Kogan.com banner.

Very rarely, if at all, would you see Ruslan jump up and speak at a conference or an event and flog his product. This is a great juxtaposition between him and Gerry Harvey who has been called Australia’s greatest salesman.

So with his PR campaigns, television appearances and online advertising where he has alerted the public to the fact that they can save money by buying online, Kogan is a prime example of the new way of doing things.

I’m not saying that the ‘old way’ isn’t a good way either, but this is just a new way of marketing being done. Ruslan would say he’s not a salesman – but he’s certainly an advocate and a thought leader in the online retail space in Australia, and his opinions and views are sought-after by the media because of it.

We’re going to go through 5 things that turn you into¬†an advocate within your industry rather than just a salesperson. There are some simple things which you can do that will eventually return dividends to you, which don’t involved direct selling. There is plenty of time to sell people things, however if you put these items in place it will make your overall sales and marketing efforts run much more smoothly because you will be positioned as an authority and someone that your customers trust.

Let’s get into the 5 tips to position you as an advocate, not just a salesperson:

1. Start a blog.

Just as you’re reading this blog post, you can create your own and use it as a way to interact with your customers and potential customers. By publishing relevant, informative, educational and entertaining content for your particular industry, your readers will say, “Wow, this is great information, and it’s something bite-sized that I can go and do something with straight away.”

2. Be passionate about your business and your industry.

When you’re passionate about your business and your industry, people feel like they want to be a part of it – enthusiasm is contagious!

Ruslan’s done a really good job of that by being the underdog, by showing people that he’s taking on the big retailers and giving the consumers the benefit of it – and people have gotten behind him and they’ve obviously purchased more products from him as a result.

3. Develop your story.

Ruslan’s very good at articulating the story of how he came about starting Kogan.com and why he started the business, and what he’s learned throughout his journey. First and foremost, as much as he is confident, he’s quite humble and he realises that there are always things to learn, there’s always ways to do things better, and he’s always innovating.

He listens to people and listens to ideas, and that’s the sign of a great leader. By packaging his business journey into a story that people can relate to, people warm to Kogan and they want to support his business.

A great example of developing and sharing your story is The Holstee Manifesto. Holstee is a clothing company, however through writing down and sharing what their philosophies were for how they wanted to approach their lives, this business became an icon for the power of staying true to your goals and dreams. Below is The Holstee Manifesto, which has resonated with millions of people:

holstee

4. Develop a story around your product and/or service.

People sometimes think, “Oh, this is a bit of fluff,” but in today’s world people actually enjoy getting into the story of a product and it influences them to think more positively about your product. An example of this is a certain packet of wafers that you can buy from the supermarket which is a high-priced product, and on the front of the packet it has a picture of the a wafer and it says, “Hi, I’m a wafer. I like long walks along the beach and I really enjoy being served with some dip, and you could enjoy me with a nice bottle of red.” And whilst that’s a bit quirky for some, it creates a bit of personality around the product, which is what people want.

Whilst this may not apply to all businesses, it’s definitely something to think about in terms of how you can tell your product story in a more creative way that’s more appealing than traditional marketing language. If you have a tiered product offering, for example – rather than calling it the Silver, Gold or Platinum package, you could call it the Dorothy, Scarecrow or Tin Man package.

Personalise your product for people and that will assist you in having a point of difference and being able to advocate for your product because it’s noticeably different to your competitors.

5. Develop your methods and mission.

If you are an advocate for your business, you will have your own methods and you’ll have your own mission statement – and don’t be afraid to share that with your audience or your customers. Obviously Kogan’s method was to be an online retailer, which was a big point of difference when he began. Even though it’s become more common, he has been able to articulate his mission to provide a great quality product at a much cheaper price for the consumers of Australia.

Kogan will also educate his consumers on why he’s able to give them a better price and better customer service. He will contrast a Harvey Norman which has to pay rent or finance a big building and pay retail costs on the floor, whereas Kogan eliminates those overheads. That makes his customers say, “Well that makes sense – I can buy into that.”

Don’t be afraid of sharing your message, because when you advocate what your mission is, and do it with passion and conviction, people will follow you into that mission.

About Andrew Morello


Andrew Morello is the winner of the first season of The Apprentice Australia and is Head of Business Development working alongside Mark Bouris at listed company Yellow Brick Road. Morello is also the co-founder of online jewelry company Bellagio and Co., and a founding member of The Entourage.

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