03 Feb The Art of Cross-Buying
If you go to my website StatementGuru.com, what do you see?
Essay this! And essay that! Personal Statements! Statements of Purpose!
The message is clear: If you need an awesome admissions essay, I’m your guy.
Am I good at writing other things? Sure. I won a screenwriting contest. And I don’t mean to brag, but my book is currently the 2,511,575th best-selling book on Amazon. Which might not sound that impressive, but there are A LOT of books on there.
Given my word cred—which has come at the expense of street cred, sadly—a great question one could ask is, “Why market yourself as just an essay expert?”
But the problem with trying to please everyone is you end up pleasing no one. It’s kind of like those restaurants that have burritos and burgers and pupusas and biryani and fried chicken and bulgogi on the menu. Sure, the menu is comprehensive, but do they excel at any one thing? If I was in the mood for bulgogi, would I go to that place, or would I make a beeline to Koreatown to a restaurant that I can’t even say the name of because it’s written in Korean?
Same logic applies here. By targeting just the essay-needing folk, I can tailor my message. It’s Marketing 101, folks.
Despite this, I am continually a target of cross-buying. You’re probably wondering what cross-buying is…
You know what cross-selling is. It’s offering more goods or services to an already captive customer. It’s do you want fries with that?
In contrast, cross-buying is ordering off the secret menu. It’s ordering The Flying Dutchman at In-N-Out Burger or a Candy Cane Frappuccino at Starbucks. When people cross-buy me, they’re asking me to help them in non-essay ways.
Here are some “cross-buying” tasks I’ve been involved with:
– Rewrote a couple’s “meet cute” section of their wedding website.
– Asked to critique someone’s online dating profile.
– Gave feedback on a wedding speech.
– Rewrote a letter to a Head of State to save someone’s citizenship status in that country.
– Not too proud of this one, but wrote the essays for an ESL student’s final exam. And no, it was not a take-home exam.
– Of course, tons of resumes, letters of recommendation and even LinkedIn profiles have come my way for appraisal/revisions.
Again, none of these type of services are mentioned on my website. These people instinctively just know that I’ll do a good job based on a previous essay-related experience they had with me or simply from the cut of my jib. Which translates to more business for me with zero marketing. Win-win.
I’ve thought long and hard—for the last four days—about what it is about me that makes me such a ripe cross-buying provider. I’ve come up with a few strategies, which I will now present to you. If you follow these, you’ll be in the cross-buying cross-hairs in no time.
1. Mastery, not Process
I’m not a great cook, but I try. If you give me a recipe, I can follow it reasonably well. Over time, I’ll even modify it to better suit my taste. But here’s what I could never do: go on one of those wacky chef shows where you have 30 minutes to make a soufflé using only a jar or peanut butter, a turnip and three Jolly Ranchers or whatever. The best chefs don’t just know what steps the follow, they know the flavor profiles of every food and how to bring out certain tastes by mixing foods together. To be a true master of your craft, forget formulas, forget steps, forget behavior. This isn’t about what you can do, its’ about who you are. And if you are a master, you don’t just do one thing extremely well. You do a dozen things extremely well.
If I had to use words to characterize most cross-buying opportunities I’ve been given, two that come to mind are urgent and desperate. Because of this, a good deal of discretion and accessibility is mandatory. In the cross-buying game, forget 9-to-5. In fact, forget the concept of time. You must exist in a realm separate from time. You must be like Batman. For him, if that Bat-Signal lights up, it’s Bat-Suit time. I can personally attest to no longer having a concept of when the weekdays end and the weekend begins. Good times.
3. Joint Learning
I’ll often get an email that’s like, “I’m applying for a program in veterinary surgery in marsupials [or some such obscure subject] and I need a cover letter for my application. I was wondering, how many veterinary surgery in marsupials cover letters have you worked on? My response would be something like: “I have to be honest and say zero, but I’m confident I can help because I’ve written plenty of other types of cover letters. I’ll trust you to supply the marsupial-related know-how. In fact, I’m eager to learn more about this exciting field you’re entering, so I hope we can work together.” Sure, you’ll lose prospects by admitting lapses in your knowledge. But you won’t get in over your head, and your client will know to be a little more patient.
This also relates to the last point. More than ever before, if you want to be recognized, admired, followed, emulated, sought, transparency isn’t just preferred, it’s required. Make no mistake about it, it isn’t easy to put yourself out there. But owning it, warts and all, is one of the most important tools in a cross-buying provider’s arsenal. Reason being, people are drawn to honesty and authenticity because, frankly, it’s hard to come by ordinarily. People will be more willing to reveal their needs to you, and they will trust you to say no if you really aren’t up for the task or can’t devote sufficient time to it.
5. The Value of Value
Ultimately, the name of the game is making people’s lives better. It’s as simple as that. If you legitimately have something to offer people, something so obvious that they sit up and take notice, they will look for other ways you can make their lives better. This is true value—improving lives. This can take many forms: helping people lose weight, teaching them a language, making them laugh, inventing a product that saves them time. I stumbled into admissions essay wizardry quite by accident, but had the foresight to see I could use my abilities to do something that has impact. My followers, in turn, have found even more ways for me to have impact. It’s also important to make sure what they’re giving them exceeds their expectations. If it doesn’t, you’d best figure out what to do so it does.
There you have it. Follow this advice, and you’ll be getting cross-bought in no time! Even if you don’t have those kind of aspiration, try to implement some of these concepts, good things will happen in some form. Give ’em a shot!