An Answer To ‘Why Me?’

Posted: June 22, 2013

The Friendly City Files

Most of the emails I get from readers are complimentary, but not the emails I received about my column about trying to add muscle to my scrawny frame. The “muscle” part was largely ignored: Most of the emails could be summed up as, “It makes no sense that a schlub like you gets to talk to Mark Wahlberg!”

For those who enjoy behind-the-scenes stuff, here’s why a schlub such as myself gets to talk to a guy like Mark Wahlberg.

Let’s start with a basic premise. I write for Inc. and am read by an average of 1.5 million people a month. I also write for LinkedIn Today and am read by an average of about a million readers a month. Together, that’s a lot of eyeballs — and eyeballs are everything to a company seeking promotion.

Plus, I seldom review products and services. On those rare occasions I take a first-person approach. If I use something and like it, I explain why. If I don’t like it, I don’t write about it; I figure if I can’t say something nice, I won’t say anything at all. So, my audience tends to trust the few recommendations I do make.

Add that up and I’m not attractive to businesses. They could care less about me — except for the fact they need to go through me to get to my audience.

And that’s why a schlub like me gets to talk to Mark Wahlberg.

When I heard him on the radio talking about his supplement line I thought, “Hey, that could be a perfect fit for something I want to do.” I contacted a public relations rep at GNC (the parent company), told them about my idea for writing about trying to gain 20-30 pounds of muscle, and they jumped onboard. The expense of having their top people create a diet and training plan for me is significantly less than running one ad in a magazine — and the articles I eventually write will be seen by a lot more people than any ad.

Mark got involved, however briefly, for the same reason. He wants his supplement line to be a success and, as with most products, marketing is everything. Speaking briefly with me was just smart business. Did he look forward to a call with a schlub like me? I’m sure he didn’t. He probably doesn’t want to go on talk shows to promote his movies, either, but marketing is a key to making a movie or a business a success.

So, in a larger sense I didn’t “get” to talk to Mark Wahlberg. He “got” to talk to me because — by extension — he got to talk to my audience, placing another small marketing block in the foundation of what he hopes will be a successful supplement business.

We talked for a couple minutes at most. I got some quotes I can use. He got to make a quick connection he hopes will extend his brand. That’s how the game is played.

So, there you go. Talking to the “Wahlbergs” of the world is a by-product of what I do. I sometimes need people like him, he sometimes needs people like me and, in a larger sense, that’s how the world goes round.

So, don’t hate the player. If you must hate, hate the game.


Jeff Haden lives in Harrisonburg and is a bestselling ghostwriter and   Inc. Magazine columnist. He can be reached at blackbirdinc.com.


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