Don't hate me because I'm beautiful. Hate me because my marketing is kicking your ass.

Every year, Jack Henry & Associates has a huge sales meeting in July. And like most huge meetings, this one comes complete with keynote speakers.

I’ll be honest with you. In all the years I worked for JHA, not every sales meeting keynote speaker really resonated with me. For example, there was the guy who tried to climb Mount Everest – but failed. Or there was the guy who got up out of his wheelchair and walked across the stage like it was the first time he’d walked since his accident. People gasped in amazement, but I knew better. I’d hung out with him at the hotel bar the night before.

However, during the 2007 sales meeting, at the Gaylord Hotel in Grapevine, Texas, the keynote speaker spoke words that forever changed my life. No, I don’t remember the theme of his talk, nor do I remember the amazing achievement that propelled him into keynote speakerdom, nor do I even remember his name. What I do remember is hearing what has become my Golden Rule of marketing. This is what the man said:

You should hate your competitors and your competitors should hate you. If your competitors don’t hate you, you’re not working hard enough.

Let that sink in for a moment. Doesn’t it make you tingle?

Sure, I know hate isn’t a good thing. I remember my mom telling me I should never hate anyone. I remember countless nuns and priests telling me the same thing over the years. Yet here I stand before you, a self-avowed hater.

Okay, okay, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I don’t really hate anybody. But that’s not the point of the Golden Rule. If you thought it was, you weren’t paying attention.

No, I don’t hate anyone – but you can bet your sweet bippy that I want my competitors to hate me. I work very hard to make sure my competitors hate me. I hope my competitors lie in bed at night popping Rolaids because of me. I hope they cringe at the very mention of my name. That’s the way I approach my own business, and that’s how I approach my customers’ competitors, as well.

So why do I want people to hate me? Simple. I let the hate motivate.

Think about it. If your competitors hate you, what does that mean? It probably means you’re doing well. In fact, it could mean that you’re doing very well.

So what does it mean if your competitors hate your marketing? The better question is, what does it mean if your competitors don’t hate your marketing? The short answer is, it means your marketing is kind of stinky.

Back when I was in charge of Symitar advertising – i.e., back when Symitar actually advertised – I made a point to focus every ad on factual information. For example, for more than a decade, Symitar didn’t lose a single client in a competitive take-away situation. That made for great ad material.

It was only after I left Symitar that other core processors began to tell me how much they hated my advertising. I remember running into one rep from another core processor at GAC in 2004. “Every time I saw that Symitar had come out with a new ad, I’d think, oh, s#%t, before I even read it,” he told me. I’d call that mission accomplished.

I’ll leave the decision to hate or not hate to you. But I will tell you in no uncertain terms that if your competitors don’t hate your marketing – obviously not all of your marketing, but at least some of it – you’d might as well just take those marketing dollars and flush them down the toilet.

That is all.


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© 2015 by John F. San Filippo

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