“A thriving business is the best antidote to personal and global poverty, but fear damages business and increases poverty in every sense of the word. “
Now, I realises this is a highly simplified statement but I believe it captures the essence of the issue. Most people I speak to are concerned about the amount of poverty, suffering, and need in the world and would like to do something about it. I would argue that the best action they can take is to make their business profitable and help others do likewise.
You may be asking yourself, ‘What do these three words have to do with each other?’ , ‘What right does Debra Hilton have to address them?’ and ‘What on earth do they have to do with copywriting?’ Let me explain …
Why Thriving Businesses Overcome Poverty
I believe that thriving businesses are the drivers of opportunity, change, and prosperity – for individuals and countries. Let’s face it, when people have nutritious food, a satisfying education that feeds their minds and souls, and choices to make about what opportunities to pursue and how they will serve others, they are less likely to engage in acts of senseless violence and destabilisation. I believe that’s true here in Australia, and through most of Africa and the Middle East.
I also believe that when businesses prosper there is more money in a community, more jobs, and more general optimism. That’s why investing in business makes a greater difference long term than spending on welfare and aid programs – which is not to say that you shouldn’t spend on welfare and aid, but just that you should recognise they are short term solutions.
If that is true, then when your business prospers, you aren’t taking wealth from anyone – you’re creating more wealth. You’re making the pie bigger, so we all have more to enjoy ourselves, and to share with others. So, when your business expands you are bringing more money, jobs, and prosperity into your whole community and everyone around you benefits.
Imagine that on a global scale! If every community was growing, thriving, creating and sharing wealth, and increasing in wellbeing!
Given that core belief, I am passionate about helping businesses sell more products and more services – and you should be too! It sometimes seems as though business owners feel guilty about doing more than just ‘getting by’ – prosperity is for large, greedy enterprises that ought to be embarrassed about their balance sheet. Maybe that’s true in some cases, but the overall impact of just about any transaction is positive. Everyone benefits because a rising tide lifts all boats.
Perpetuating Poverty – And How That Affects Your Business
I spent most of the past 25 years in Chad and Mozambique and saw a great deal of poverty up close. We were working and living closely with local people and engaged in agricultural and community development.
Three things stood out to me early on:
- Lasting change comes about by degrees, although we can accelerate or hinder it by our actions;
- Poor people are not stupid – they make great choices when they have freedom to do so; and
- Governments frequently make flawed decisions because they are dealing with generalisations, not specifics and rely on people with vested interests in the outcome to provide information. (We saw several instances of this when food distribution destroyed livelihoods of small farmers, due to deliberate misinformation of visiting UN representatives)
A fourth realisation came later: – Fear is the biggest reason why people stay in poverty – and a lot of well-meaning interventions increase people’s fears.
“Well, that’s interesting,” you say, “but what does it have to do with my business?”
Any person – business – community – that believes that his prosperity is dependent on someone else has just put a ceiling on his potential achievements. We realised early on as we watched the machinations of politics and greed on behalf of local and international representatives that ‘mere farmers’ didn’t stand a chance. But we also saw some of them succeed anyway because they worked hard, took the opportunities that offered, and did not give into their fear.
Generosity as a Manifestation of Fear
Sometimes it’s easier to see patterns when you simplify the situation. When we arrived in Mozambique we saw fear all around us. The war had just ended, there was little food, and no security. Refugees were pouring back from Malawi and Zimbabwe with emotional baggage from war experiences and from the refugee camps and with their traditional values and relationships torn apart. They quickly resumed their traditional habits of lending to each other out of fear, not compassion. ‘If you have a need today, and I don’t give, what will happen when my need comes along? or How little can I get away with giving you?’ This kind of mentality does not encourage generosity!
As times improved there was more money around and I started to notice some patterns – those who were always looking to other people for solutions gave tiny amounts to their neighbours, grudgingly out of fear. However, those who had found ways of generating income for themselves gave generously. The difference wasn’t necessarily in the amount of money they had available to live on, but in their confidence that they could generate more income – that it was within their own control. It wasn’t easy – they often needed to take risks and find new solutions – but it could be done.
On a larger scale, I see that same kind of fear in the business community here in Melbourne. There are some business who, at the end of each month wonder how they’ve paid all their bills and whether they will be able to do it again next month, and others who know that they have found actions that will reliably generate revenue. Whatever happens this month they can tweak and repeat. They have good months and bad months, but they are always looking for solutions within their control, and they keep on trying.
So What Does Business Growth Have to Do With Copywriting?
Copywriting is an essential part of your marketing efforts and it makes all the difference to your business. The right message, conveyed in the most suitable words to an ideal audience will move them to spend more money, more often in any economy. Copywriting is not just a matter of putting words on paper – it’s a matter of finding those triggers which will move people to buy, and making sure that you press the button.
I’ve been trained in the discipline of direct mail – where your letters either generate a response or they don’t. It’s a measurable, practical means of selling that is totally within the control of any business. Whether you send emails or physical letters you need a response quickly – so your mail needs to attract attention and demand an urgent response. Changing headlines, colours and design can be easily done these days, and they can make a dramatic difference to the response you receive and the value of your sales.
Content Marketing is another strategy that makes your business stand out in a crowded market place. Shaun Guzzo of ThincWealth put it very well when he said to me, “The reality is that any Financial Planner can do what we do. We’re all governed by the same regulations and have access to the same products. The difference is that at ThincWealth we care about helping you achieve your dreams. We don’t just go through the motions of finding a product – we find the product that works for you.”
This is true of any professional service business. It’s often not the product that’s delivered, but the process by which it is delivered and the values the business holds that set it apart from its competitors. Those are the things you need to tell your prospects about because they are the things that make a difference – and that is why businesses who blog get more traffic to their website, more enquiries, and more sales.
In Mozambique, the sales techniques were unsophisticated – piles of tomatoes, bananas, mangoes neatly laid out in stand after stand with a lady sitting patiently behind them. No real reason to choose one over the other. When sales people did something different to set themselves apart they prospered (or attracted the envy of their neighbours, which could be dangerous).
In Melbourne, sometimes our professional service businesses and retailers look the same – more sophisticated marketing, but nothing to set them apart.
That seems to me a wasted opportunity. If you don’t tell people what is different about your business no one else will. That’s why businesses who blogs generate more interest which becomes more sales and profits – and the opportunity to increase the overall wealth in the world. Tell your story – make your business stand out – and thrive. You’ll have more opportunities to give yourself, your time, and your money to others – and you’ll be making the pie of global wealth bigger as you do so.
If you would like help with direct mail, blogging or content marketing please contact me. My business is helping yours grow steadily.