You might be overthinking this marketing thing. I know I did.
This is a cautionary tale… so keep reading. 😉
Following formulas. Creating customer avatars. Trying harder and switching things up in the hopes of getting traction with my message. Basically, pretending and putting myself out there willy nilly. Talk about overwhelm.
I was overthinking. Stressing myself out and getting overwhelmed. Working harder instead of smarter. Then working smarter without a real plan. Sound familiar?
So how did I get myself out of this cycle of wasted effort and frustration? I changed my thinking. I realized that marketing isn’t some kind of black magic I need to master in order to be successful.
Marketing is really just a conversation. A dialogue with real people with a problem I can solve or a need I can satisfy. Easy, when you think about it.
So, let me tell you a little story…one that will hopefully illustrate marketing in a way you really haven’t considered. Don’t worry… I’ll keep it brief. I know you’re busy.
When I was in sixth grade my family moved. I had to change schools in the middle of the year. Well, at the end of the year if I’m going to be honest about it. I left my friends and the year end field trips and celebrations at my current school and found myself in the role of the “new kid” just as the school year was wrapping up.
I was the one without a partner on the museum trip. The one with no end of the year awards at the parties and banquets that mark the end of Elementary School. The awkward girl standing by herself on the playground during field day.
And so I was faced with a challenge… put myself out there and make some friends or just endure the loneliness quietly and wait for things to change. I needed to learn some marketing, didn’t I? Sensing a connection here?
So I tried some things…and I learned some lessons. Lessons I’ve realized are valuable now as I market my business. My social success – just like my business success – was in large part tied to my ability to talk to people and give them a reason to hang out with me.
Here’s what I learned…
Bribery doesn’t bring lasting results. Sure, I can bring a treat for the entire class. I can invite people to an after school party at my house. That will get them in the door. But if I can’t build a relationship from there, it’s no good.
In the same way, I can offer a freebie to draw people to my business. They might join my list, but if I can’t build a relationship from there I will lose their interest and attention. List building on it’s own won’t work.
I can’t be everything to everyone. Maybe you’ve tried it too. Hanging out with the athletic kids one day and the smart ones the next. Moving from group to group trying to find a fit. Rather than fitting in with everyone, pretty soon you’re just the kid that doesn’t fit in anywhere.
It’s tempting, when you’re first starting out, to change your marketing message to suit lots of different audiences OR to water it down in an effort to make your business appealing to “everyone.” It never works, though, does it? Instead of building relationships you discover you are on the margin of a lot of conversations without really getting connected.
Some people just won’t like me, and that’s ok. The playground is a tough place. Want to die a little inside every day? Just hitch your confidence and self-image to public opinion. I learned pretty quickly that some people just didn’t like me. And I learned to be ok with that. Did I cry a few tears? Sure. But I wasn’t going to let them keep me from finding people who appreciated my awesomeness.
Sometimes marketing feels like the playground. You put out a great blog post and no one cares. Your Facebook page doesn’t have many likes. No one retweets or shares or comments. Some people just don’t like you. Reality stinks, doesn’t it?
What does this mean? It can mean that your message isn’t clear or there’s something you can adjust in your message. But it often doesn’t mean that, really. Lack of response just means you haven’t found the right audience. Or – you haven’t put enough great stuff in front of them yet to get a response. Don’t take it personally. Be ok with the silence, and keep putting your stuff out there.
Just because it works for someone else doesn’t mean it’s right for me. The super popular girl with the pretty hair and the high energy laugh has something that works for her. But I’m not her. My laugh isn’t high energy, and most days my hair is doing something few people find pretty. Her formula won’t work for me.
Lots of people are talking about marketing formulas that work for them. They use webinars to generate thousands of dollars in sales. They make social media into a lead generation powerhouse using a “proven formula” of revenue generating ads. They blog and podcast and send emails to their list at some kind of shocking frequency.
And they promise you can get the same results if you follow their formula. It’s just 4 easy payments of $97 or whatever. Don’t buy it. Because a formula alone won’t get you success.
What works for them won’t work for you…unless it fits who you really are and how you like to work. Once you give yourself permission to share an honest, authentic message and have real conversations, then a webinar or a blog or social media ads might work well. But the conversation has to come first…or you’ll just burn out.
You see, marketing is about conversations. It’s about sharing your personality and your passions with people. Some will be drawn to you and want to know more.
Marketing is about moving the conversation along, building relationships, and developing trust.
Because when you have a true relationship based on trust, then you’ve got something. You’ve got a customer, a real client who needs what you offer. Then you’ve got marketing success. And there’s nothing overwhelming about that.