What Conversations About My Weight Taught Me About Marketing

22.05.17 05:53 AM By Rachel Klaver

It’s a funny thing being round. It wakes up the helpful suggester in complete strangers, who want to solve the problem of your roundness, just in case you’ve not first realised you are in fact FAT, and then also that it needs to be remedied, and that you are in need of their solution. I know that fat is not the only problem people want to solve. People also want to solve cancer. There is always a remedy that has worked for someone else and so it should work on your tumour too. I’ve got a friend who must not only cope with her terminal illness, and all the pain and stress relating to that, but also to fielding the myriad of solutions that will somehow make her non-terminal — on a weekly basis. I find it awful — that she has to make people feel better when others should be making her feel better. I’m not saying fat is like cancer by the way ( because it isn’t. It’s a horrendous journey for anyone facing it and I can not even imagine what that is like) — I’m just saying, we all like jumping to the solution instead of looking at the person and what they actually need. This week I was sitting waiting for my Pilates session after my morning walk. I had just finished drinking my protein smoothie for my breakfast. Yup — I’m a round person who exercises and eats a pretty healthy diet. (I know this will come as a surprise to those of you who were going to helpfully suggest to me to exercise and eat better. I’ve been helpfully suggested that before, just so you know) I made the mistake of talking about a diet related topic with a stranger as we were discussing the wider topic of MLM and I was talking about how much I hate what the marketing of weightloss products such as Isagenix does to people — both financially, and also from the fact they are just not good for you in the long run. I wasn’t saying this to someone who takes isagenix (I’ve got a few people who do) because that would then be eroding the decision they’ve made and they didn’t ask me for their advice. It was about MLM in general because I do like talking about things, and I do have an opinion but I don’t like making that opinion personal because I respect the people I’m talking to. It was my mistake because I forgot that fat people don’t get to talk about other people’s methods of losing fat because by default that means we are also trying to not be fat too. It’s a weird logic that says if I mention something in a conversation, it means I am crying out for help in this area. If so, I’m also crying out for help to be a Russian spy as I’m addicted to The Americans and am talking about it with everyone. So this person said to me “Oh for you, I’ve got a great solution” and I was thinking about the fact it could be about how I can’t get a good spine twist on the left hand side when doing oblique work, because you know, we’re in a Pilates studio, but actually it was to give me a weight loss solution that worked for her friend who lost 45 kg and so I should know about it and try it too. And then it got awkward, because I had actually tried that a few years ago, but had had a miscarriage while trying it and that kind of put a stop to it, and then I felt I had to explain to this helpful suggester who is a complete stranger that I had had a miscarriage, a fact hardly anyone (until this blog) knows about and then I felt the grief of that loss all over again and I thought “WHY DO YOU NEED TO BE A HELPFUL SUGGESTER TO ME ABOUT MY FAT? I’m not suggesting stuff to you helpful suggester — though I do have some not very helpful suggestions right now” And I then tailed off, and went and did my Pilates and sweated and thought about how this is a good lesson in marketing and sales. I’ve got a marketing agency. I’m so proud of what our team does, and sometimes I get a little excited at the thought of helping someone and I’m a bit of a helpful suggester too sometimes to people who haven’t asked for it. And actually it sometimes isn’t a very helpful thing to do. Because unless they’ve asked, they don’t know they need it, or they know they need it but not right now, or they have made a conscious decision to not need it because they are dealing with other things they need more. And that is their right. Is a helpful suggestion helpful? Only when it’s been asked for I reckon.