My friend who I’m helping has been doing very well for herself. She’s running a successful business, employing at least five other people full time and using them. It’s a thriving work environment and right now I’m part of it, blundering through with boxes of rubbish, taking shelves off the walls, packing things.
She’s learnt a lot about business, money, PR. Alongside it she’s raising three boys as a single mum. She makes decisions fast, sticks to her guns and digs her heels in. I absolutely respect her work ethic and ambition and ability. She says “yes” and makes it happen. But there’s a thing I’ve learnt in my haphazard life that she hasn’t had time to learn yet…
She’s all about the marketing of things. She makes things and companies look fantastic. She gets articles written and photographs taken and she is part of the web that helps decide what we almost unthinkingly understand to be “aspirational”. I learnt by association in the early days, and saw first hand the machine that runs beneath the unthinking assumptions we have about competing products. We all have brands that we “like”, and often that unexamined feeling is to do with our consumption of the work that people like her do. Things rarely get into newspaper articles by coincidence. You can make a fantastic product that competes with a lesser product from a rich company – the company that buys the PR and marketing will take your space unless you are insanely fortunate. Take this blog. It’s not very widely circulated. Why? Because I’m not backlinking, I’ve switched off adverts and I’m not doing Search Engine Optimisation. All the things I can do to maximise reach take time and money. I am not writing this for reach though, so I’m not gonna spend money. If one of my blogs was put out there it likely wouldn’t gain traction anyway as I’m not dealing in absolutes, and received wisdom is that you have to be an extremist these days. Maybe that’ll change.
Marketing. You make a thing, you want people to give you a high price for the thing so you make more money. You pay someone to say that your high price is good value. Someone buys the thing brand new, and as soon as they use it they lose loads of ghost-money because a big part of the high price of the new thing is wrapped up in a “new-thing-experience tax” type affair. You pay loads of money to be the first to use the thing. That’s her world. So when she wants something, she doesn’t really hesitate to pay top whack.
Today I helped build a plastic outdoor rattan sofa that she had spent hundreds on. It’ll be lovely in summer, and it fits brilliantly where she wanted it. But if she ever wants to sell it, she’ll never get even half of what she paid, even if she sells it tomorrow. And this is the thing I’ve learnt.
We should stop attaching monetary value to our possessions.
I’ve got this stupid glass thing that my friend gave me. “You’ve still got my £150 glass bottle,” she told me once. I didn’t even want it. But the fact she puts a figure on it makes it awkward having it.
Things are worth what they mean to us.
I’ve got a cheap plastic voodoo Madonna that means more to me than a whole collection of Lladro China ones and beautiful blown glass ones. If I had to buy all my stuff back from someone I’d spend more on that plastic one than any of the ones by reputable makers. She’s Our Lady Untier of Knots.
I’m trying to help a few people untie knots and get rid of things that are clinging to them. The spanner in the works is ALWAYS their sense of value. Price can’t be predicted unless we have an Etsy shop and enough space to store the thing for years. But I can’t move your stuff on if you are convinced it’s worth three times what people will pay for it.
This is a rustic pig bench. It’s nice.
Lots Road wouldn’t take it because of condition. I’m gonna sell it for her on eBay I think. To get the best price I could choose a high value and then sit with it forever until someone pays. But there aren’t enough hours in the day and there’s nowhere to put it in the meantime. And I don’t want to disappoint her with a low price. You see the conundrum?