I’m not a marketing guru. I don’t have all the skills or answers but I do have opinions, lots of ‘em when it comes to authenticity and what’s worked for me over the years while offering services to people in the world. I started by painting barrettes and selling them to the girls in my 4th-grade class. Much Later, while building a theatre company, I cleaned houses, I bartended, waited tables and worked as an assistant for airbags as well as geniuses. I worked managing contracts worth tens of millions for the New York Yankees and have been responsible for half a dozen checking accounts for a Billionaire client. I've worked in Hospice and counseling. The throughline in all of it is relationship building which is, at its essence, trust building.
Underlying all of my efforts to succeed in any endeavor is the belief that the best marketing strategy I can have is to really care about the people I want to serve. This has been echoed back to me by almost every marketing pro whose podcasts I listen to or books I read or videos I watch. Amen to that. This underlying thread will carry any business whether the email system fails, the shipping gets screwed up or the priceless vase gets broken. It will catapult clear action and empower you to just do the next right thing.
Marketing and sales get lumped together – but they are different.
Sales are transactional. How do you get paid then deliver the goods? What are your systems to receive money and send product or service? Sales are fueled on impeccable systems which can only be implemented as a natural outpouring of a good marketing job.
Marketing is relational. It is the flow of communication back and forth between you and your audience. It takes clear expression and authentic listening. Marketing is fueled on care and respect and integrity. It is a two-way street, not a one-way push. Marketing is identifying with people and story and truth – it helps people to see you best when you are seeing them.
At its essence marketing is the foundation upon which you build your identity as a service or solutions provider. You are building market legitimacy from 1. Choosing and declaring who you want to be for people and 2. Receiving and incorporating the feedback of who you are being and how you are landing for people as you serve them. It takes time and patience to build and broaden an identity this way. Keeping an open mind and nurturing a healthy sense of self-confidence will serve your ability to hold to your mission while being able to pivot when the market calls for you to do so.
If you have a personal Facebook account you are already marketing yourself. Have you ever decided to rephrase a post because it matters to you that you do not offend an older aunt or a coworker? That’s a healthy sensitivity to your audience. There is nothing wrong with that and I would argue that, rather than it being a censorship issue, it is a great exercise in how to express oneself authentically in a multitude of ways that are more and more inclusive and thoughtful. That said - I drop a lot of F-Bombs all over the internet.
Online, through email, snail mail and in person, you are TEACHING people how to see and relate to you.
Just like a physical storefront – in the day to day of your business, what are you saying to people about your integrity, your style, your "taking yourself seriously"?
What comes to mind for you when:
- You go to a store and it is not open during the hours of the posted sign?
- You see a store that has crappy window displays or dusty merch?
- The store is constantly changing names or merchandise?
- The store has a confusing assortment of products and services? (Is this a haircut place or an ice cream shop?)
- The store clerk tells you the guy down the street has better strawberries?
- (There is a sign on a storefront in Manhattan that reads “We are probably the lowest priced in the city”. I would suggest striving for more certainty and ambition than this.
Simple things that exponentially increase your market viability:
- Get back to people right away - be accessible. Making someone wait for a response doesn’t send a message that you are busy and exclusive, it sends a message that you don’t care and are out of control.
- How can you be what you SAY you are for people, right now for free? i.e.: if you say “I help people go from the 9 to 5 to entrepreneurship” then prove it asap with a free worksheet or video or something that puts your money where your mouth is. Prove that this is your purpose and that you are committed to it whether people are spending money or not because it is your passion and important.
- Hone your story or stories as to why you are where you are and doing what you do. The marketing “story” is explaining to people why you might be the right fit for them. It is enrollment. It is letting people identify with you in a way that is always authentic and often vulnerable.
- Entertain. Research shows that an overwhelming majority of people on the web are searching for entertainment over education. How can you leverage this tidbit of information? How might that inform the content you create? How might that make you want to roll storytelling into your content?
- DELIGHT PEOPLE. There is a drought in this world on delight and spontaneous fun (baby and puppy gifs aside). How can you go the extra mile to do something for your audience that makes them smile? One thing I like to do is kick back a percentage of the price of a workshop to the person who referred the new client - just out of the blue - with a thank you note. So if Suzie refers Joe to take a 500 dollar workshop with me, I send Suzie fifty bucks. I do not advertise this. I just do it as a rule. I don’t ever think about it, it’s just part of my policies and way of being.
- Knowledge bases and books and seminars and classes and podcasts and google OH MY! : Do the research but eventually, you gotta jump in. You can read all the books on swimming you want but you will never REALLY learn until you are in the pool. You are going to get a nose full of water - guaranteed - go for it.
- You have to believe you are worthy before you can expect others to believe you are.
CHOOSING A LANGUAGE
How do YOU communicate best?
- In person (speaking, keynotes, community events, bookstores etc.)
- In writing (blog, email newsletter, long form FB posts)
- Video (fb live, youtube, instastories)
- Audio (podcast, soundcloud etc)
- Images (Instagram, Tumblr)
- EXPERIMENT, experiment, experiment. Use GOOGLE. Then choose one or two and stick to them for a while. Consistency is Queen.
Outlets for Content Marketing
I suggest picking one or two that you love already.
- Email blasts
- freebies, mini courses, worksheets, calls etc.
- Your own FB community page
- Facebook (paid and organic)
- Facilitator Directory!!!! (2 months out to get into Renee’s email)
- Old School - business cards, flyers, cold calling
- Affiliate Opportunities
- Speaking – Conferences and Gatherings, Chamber of commerce, educational institutions, bookstores, Open centers, career centers, public library, networking events, community circles.
- Old school – stand by the train Monday morning with postcards and a smile asking people how they would rather feel!!
YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL - YOU DON’T WANT TO DO IT ALL
WHAT IS YOUR FLOW?
EXAMPLE: For a long time I sent a weekly email on the same day and time each week with tips and things of interest that I love – below the signature, I had affiliate content. Maybe once a month I sent an email on a different day of the week with any special offer I had or workshop I was promoting. My images in my email aligned with my Instagram and FB posts and all linked to the same content on my blog which is on my website. The devices I used to put content out in the world cross-referenced each other and ultimately lead to my website where purchases could be made if the client was inclined. For every 10 or more things I put out there – 1 is a straightforward ask for people to register for something. Patience is one of the costs of doing business. Looking at the big picture enables us to be patient.
Say you have 4 hours a week to dedicate to marketing efforts. How do you want to break that down? Getting names for your email list, creating a weekly email and one blog a week, posting in FB and FB live about your blog? Say you have 1 hour a week to dedicate? Maybe then you want to focus on your weekly email that has entertaining and interesting content for the people you want to serve. If you can only do one thing then I say do it consistently and with love and it will serve you.
What doesn’t work. It’s not wrong, just not stuff that feels good to me.
- Paying for followers – Trust your base will grow. Respect your audience enough to know that they won’t be fooled.
- Hootsuite / other auto publish - Makes people feel like you don’t have time or the desire to authentically engage.
- Making people jump through hoops to find out your fee - Be transparent and respectful of people’s time. If you’re worried that your fee will scare people away then those people are not your prospects.
- Making people wait to pay - When someone is ready to give you money don’t make them wait.
- Making people wait to speak to you - Be available. Give everyone your email and phone number. (Get a google voice number for this.)
- Trying to manipulate what people think or trying to figure out what they will think about you - DO THE WORK (you decide what that is) – then let go of the results.
- Commit to communicating in your best method and in your circles on a regular basis for the next 3 months. Get rooted in at least one method of communication so people will know where to find you or when to expect you in their inbox, feed etc.
- What you are giving to the people you hope to serve in addition to what you are selling?
- Make a list of 30 things you could do today to make a buck if you wanted or needed to. This is an exercise in abundance – do one of these things. It’s, in essence, an exercise in how you can be painting houses while working on your Mona Lisa. You will come to build confidence in your ability to hustle and make bucks with this exercise. “Daily Rituals” by Mason Currey is a great book that shows how some of the most famous people balanced passion and paying the bills.