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  • Writer's pictureBill Petrie

The Thirty Percent Society

Are you trying too hard to get in?

One of my favorite quotes – and one that is always sure to get a bit of a giggle – is this gem from Groucho Marx: “I never want to belong to any club that would accept me as a member.” While it is amusing, the harsh reality is that we all want to belong to something. It’s a feeling that’s drilled into us as children and continually reinforced as we grow older and enter the workforce – the desire to be affiliated with something that feels exclusive, posh, privileged, or just plain cool.

Even salespeople strive to belong to the right “club,” especially when it relates to growing sales. There’s not one salesperson who doesn’t feel a sense of pride or accomplishment to earning a spot in the “Winner’s Circle” or a place in the “President’s Club” due to sales success. With that type of club – one that’s based on merit – it’s always better to be a member than on the outside looking in.

However, there’s one league where promotional products salespeople will never be admitted regardless of slick marketing campaigns, mind-blowing creativity, retail-inspired packaging, dogged persistence, or unbridled enthusiasm: The Thirty Percent Society.

The Thirty Percent Society represent the percentage of your target audience that will never buy from you: not today, not tomorrow, not ever.

The Thirty Percent Society include the following members:

  • No Value Suits – These are the ones who don’t believe in the effectiveness of promotional products, and despite every study, infographic, or case history to the contrary, they never will change their perspective that budget should be spent on what you sell

  • Service Snobs – These are the members who presume that you and your organization can’t provide the level of service they demand because you’re either “too big” or not “large enough”

  • Friends & Family Folks – These are the people that have a long-established relationship with someone close to them and, even though they might want to change, the circumstances revolving around those relationships preclude them from doing so

  • Self-Starters – This is the segment which, despite all information to the contrary, staunchly maintains they can do it all: the creative, the research, the proofing, and the follow-up should any potential service issues arise.

Every single promotional products salesperson has been shut down by one or more of the members of the Thirty Percent Society. However, because the need to belong is so strong, they persist in burning both time and calories, desperately trying to prove to the members that they deserve a seat at the table. The fact is that the Thirty Percenters don’t want you among them, and no amount of convincing will grant you admission.

Instead of wasting your valuable time, energy, and resources trying to convince the members of the Thirty Percenters to grant you access you will never have, doesn’t it make sense to focus on the 70% of your target audience that not only sees the actual value in promotional products but is open to spending those dollars with you? To be sure, this is the segment of your target audience that is underserved, starving for tangible value, and craves memorable buying experiences.

Let the members of the Thirty Percent Society operate as they always have – without your membership. The reality is you don’t need them. It’s simply much more realistic and profitable to focus on the 70% who aren’t part of that “exclusive” club. The best part? It’s in that 70% where you will truly feel like you belong.

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