The 5 Lessons Drug Dealers Teach Us About Marketing
Updated: Aug 24, 2019
Now, you might think from the title of this article that I’m about to go into the do’s and don’ts of purchasing black tar heroin; unfortunately, my expertise does not lie there. What I am going to do is show you what you can learn from the marketing strategy of a drug dealer.
Generally speaking, most young business-persons will not be selling something as wildly addictive as meth; in this way, drug dealers have a huge leg up. Even with this massive advantage, minor-league kingpins still have a major problem to contend with. This problem is the same problem every business owner has. How to separate yourself from the competition.
From a fundamental standpoint, a drug dealer does something straightforward; he or she puts the drug he or she sells into the hands of the person who is willing to buy it.
This is the purpose of virtually every marketing campaign; to put the right eyes on the product or service.
The prevailing theory among dreamer entrepreneurs is that if they put their product out in front of the masses, customers will come running. This is when the naive small business owner realizes their product is nothing like meth.
For argument’s sake let’s say the product they’re selling is meth, you can’t run a narcotic-centered social media campaign, so how do you reach out to prospective clients and consumers? In the digital age, it’s easy to believe that you can grow without using any traditional marketing techniques. Although there are very effective ways to improve your company's growth online, you’re going to need a personal touch if you’re going to create lifetime customers.
This brings us to the first lesson drug dealers can teach us about marketing.
Lesson 1. Give free samples!
The first baggy is almost always free (not that I know from experience).
This lesson revolves around one simple idea; how does your customer know what you’re selling is any good?
This is why free samples have made Costco and Sam’s a metric shit-load of dough. So many entrepreneurs fail the moment they overvalue their work or product. The fact is, no one trusts you if they don’t know you, and they don’t trust your product until they feel they know it as well. If your potential customers don’t know you, then you better have a good track record; if you don’t have a good track record then get used to giving stuff away for free. It’s that simple.
A roofing company can give away free consultations, same with most service providers. Say you’re trying to start a hot tub company, do quality checks on hot tubs people already own. You have to get creative, that’s the only way to show your target market you exist.
Lesson 2. Word of mouth matters.
Like I said before, drug dealers don’t have the option to advertise the same way you do; this is why they have to rely on the people they sell to-to evangelize for them. Your brand is your religion, preach preach preach. If you make the right impression on a customer by giving them a one-of-a-kind experience, then they will become a brand ambassador for you and your product.
The reality is, there’s always someone waiting in the wings to sweep up your customer base and siphon every bit of business out of them; if you don’t run your business like someone is trying to take it from you, then you’re going to lose it. This means that more than ever before it’s imperative to tailor the experiences you create for your customers directly to them. You have to know your customers and care about what pains them. It’s simple, but not easy to achieve.
This may sound obvious, but it’s not; nowadays, everyone thinks they can sell from the comfort of their couch; while this may be true for a select few, the rest of us have to get out there and shake hands.
Lesson 3. Never run out of supply.
You may think your customers are loyal; the truth is, they’re not. As soon as you’re too busy to provide that product they’ve grown to love, your customer is on to the next company who can. It’s easy to overextend yourself, to miss deadlines, make fulfillment errors, but you have to do your best to fix it when you come up short. It’s incredible to me how many people lose out on sales all for lack of product.
If the most significant problem you have is that you’re too busy, good; hire someone to help out, scale your company to fit the demand for your product. There’s a learning curve, I know, but this is a lesson you have to learn if you’re going to keep those long-lasting, repeat clients.
Lesson 4. Reward your regulars!
Not all drug dealers do this, but the good ones do (again, not that I have any experience in the matter).
So many companies offer incentives to customers who are planning on leaving. “Oh, you want to cancel your Xfinity package, well how about a month free?”
This is a way of the past. Sure you’ll catch a few on the way out, I’m sure it works more often then I’d like to admit, but where are the bonuses for customers who have been loyal for five years?
You have to run your business like all of your customers are thinking about choosing someone else, that’s why customer service is so crucial. What can you do to show gratitude for loyal patronage? A month off a subscription, a free hot tub cleaning; whatever it is, you have to remind the people who buy from you that they are not forgotten.
Lesson 5. Go into business with people you trust.
Of course not all drug dealers do this, but the goodYou can’t afford the time and mental energy it takes to keep up with a business partner who might be screwing you behind your back. There are too many startups that fall apart before they’re even off the ground just because one person got greedy. You’re not going to grow your operation if you can’t manage the people helping you do it.
I can speak from experience on this; I have started several companies with people who weren’t willing to pull their weight, or were just too caught up in how much money they would make once we became profitable. The problem was, we never became profitable because there was no focus. When you’re starting out, you have to sell, sell, sell; everyone who’s involved with the company has to be an active seller. You don’t have time to manage someone you thought was going to be a valuable partner and turned out to be in it for the wrong reasons.
I’m sure there are more nuggets of wisdom in the narcotic world, but these are my main takeaways. Really what it comes down to is understanding your customer and how to get to them; even if you don’t have the most stellar online presence or the most incredible resumé, you can grow your operation until you have the capital to expand.
At the end of the day, treat your product like the drug your customer needs and make the sale; you’ll quickly learn that valuing these certain traditional marketing principles will pay dividends over the life of your business.