Written by Matt Michel
Around a quarter century ago, I started Comanche Marketing. Just saying that makes me feel old. Of course, compared to 25 years ago I am old. In a world where everyone is focused on “What’s in it for me,” Comanche Marketing is an example of giving before receiving. Take a journey with me and I’ll share how Luke 6:38 (look it up) describes the world. If the Bible’s not your thing, Michelangelo said almost the same thing. So did Zig Ziglar. So did thousands. It’s an eternal truth. If you expect to receive, you must first give of yourself.
Comanche goes way back to the defunct HVAC industry trade show, Comfortech. Starting in 1992, I had begun writing for Contracting Business magazine, which operated Comfortech. I was given a speaking slot and asked for a title. I had a vague idea about what I wanted to speak about, which was small business marketing tactics.
I thought it might be cool to frame them around an American Indian nation. After all, Native Americans were great tacticians. This led me to begin researching various Indian tribes/nations. After a lot of research, it seemed to me that two of them were kick- uh, butt. These were the Seminoles and the Comanches.
Having grown up in Tallahassee, Florida, I had a natural affinity to the Seminoles. It turns out the Seminoles are the only Indian nation that is technically still at war with the United States. Rather than give up, a contingent of the Seminoles faded back into the Everglades and other Florida swamps where the U.S. troops either couldn’t find them or didn’t want to try.
Since I currently live in the middle of Comanche country in Texas, I had to admire them as well. Man for man, the Comanches were some of the fiercest warriors in the history of the world. However, despite their battlefield success, disease and slaughter of the buffalo made moving to the Comanche reservation in Oklahoma a better choice so the great Comanche chief Quanah Parker finally accepted a place in Oklahoma for his people.
Seminoles or Comanches? What should I choose? Okay, what sounds better, Seminole Marketing or Comanche Marketing. Boom. The Comanches had better alliteration. Comanche Marketing was the title I submitted for my presentation at Comfortech.
About the same time, I went to a Homeowners Association meeting. The meeting started with the HOA’s secretary announcing that the president and vice president had both quit. In short, the HOA was in disarray. I’m not quite sure how this happened, but I offered to write a newsletter for the HOA and ended up as president.
This was the 1990s. Email was far from ubiquitous, but I suspected most of the people in our affluent neighborhood had an email address. I thought email would be a great way to keep the people in the neighborhood informed about the challenges and opportunities we faced.
I wanted to use an email list, but these were brand new. I didn’t want to look like an idiot (it’s bad enough being one without looking like one). I decided to practice. I created an email list using the now vanished, Listbot. I needed a friendly audience to test the email list.
Without a lot of thought, I decided to write about small business marketing and other tips. I called it Comanche Marketing and invited three people to subscribe. During those days, I popped out one tip a day. They were short, usually less than 200 words.
It seemed to be working. My three subscribers all emailed me that they received the email I sent. Beyond that, I wasn’t paying a lot of attention. One day I checked the stats. What started with three subscribers grew to more than 50. A few months later, there were a hundred.
Comanche was growing by word-of-mouth. My full-time job was as a marketing consultant with a big marketing firm. When I got too busy, I didn’t post. When the list server changed from free to pay, I found another but did a poor job communicating the change. Nevertheless, subscribers found me and resubscribed. This happened three or four times.
I wrote without pretention. I spoke with a human voice, my voice. I often shared what was happening in my life and turned it into marketing or other business lessons
I would go to a conference and strangers would come up to me and ask about my wife’s struggle with Parkinson’s. At first it confused me and kind of creeped me out. How could these people know all of this? The answer was I wrote about it in Comanche. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was sort of building a personal relationship with more than a thousand people.
With Comanche I shared my insight, my ideas, my counsel, and my experience generously, without any expectation of a return. I gave. I gave without expectation of any return.
The return came. It came in the form of speaking engagements. It came in the form of job offers. It came in the form of people buying “Never Lose a Customer”, a book I wrote. It came in the form of people willing to invest in a radical (at the time) business concept called the Service Roundtable. Without the investments of people subscribing to Comanche, the Service Roundtable would never have been launched. Comanche was also the springboard for most of the early members of the Service Roundtable.
The principle of giving before receiving applied with Comanche. It’s applied every day. No one, for example, is “given” a promotion and pay raise. People earn it before receiving it. If their current bosses do not give it to them, other bosses will.
As ye give, so shall ye receive.
© 2022 Comanche Marketing