Like everyone else these days, I struggle to make a living. Knowing that I’m not a very good salesman, I often listen to marketing experts and even motivational speakers in the hopes of becoming more knowledgeable and ultimately more successful in selling my products (my ‘products’ are the books I’ve written). The major advice that I hear repeatedly, is that if you want people to buy what you’re selling, you must (1) identify a problem that your customers have, and (2) offer them a solution.
Oh I’ve tried to do it. I’ve tried to frame my work as a ‘solution’ to a ‘problem’, I’ve tried to ask questions that focus people’s attention on what’s wrong in their lives, and then offer them my books as a way to answer the questions and right the wrongs and fix their problems. But it always feels strained, awkward, and phony. That’s not what my books are about, and I’ve spent a lot of time feeling like they’re just not sufficiently “useful” or, consequently, sellable, so I guess I’d better write some simple self-help problem-solving books, or find something else to do.
The hell with that.
The marketers are wrong.
I don’t need to focus on ‘problems’. My books aren’t about your ‘problems’, and they don’t delve into what’s negative or miserable or dysfunctional in your life and show you how to fix it. If that’s what you need, don’t buy my products.
Quite the contrary, my books are about human aspiration and meaning. I’ve always agreed with Victor Frankl that the greatest drive in our lives — despite what American advertisers and marketers, teachers and politicians, psychologists and pundits — would have us believe, is not to have more sex, it’s not to have more stuff, it’s not to have more fame, and it’s not to solve all our problems so that our lives become easy, comfortable, dull, and phenomenally empty. The greatest human drive is the search of meaning. Real meaning. Life is most truly and most realistically (and most wonderfully) a deep, passionate, quest for meaning and purpose.
That’s not a problem.
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And let me know what you think! Andrew@AndrewCort.com