My friend is petrified of marketing. Petrified. The word itself makes her feel icky, to put it nicely. The jargon makes her sick, marketing ‘experts’ give her the creeps and she’s downright overwhelmed by the noisy swathe of marketing approaches for her business. Frankly she’d just rather get on with running her business, doing what she loves and ignore the whole marketing fanfare … except she knows she has to market her business to continue to grow her success. So she’s stressed and she feels kind of crippled by what she perceives as a gaping hole in her otherwise very pleasing venture.
Her story or situation, her perception, stress and problem is not uncommon. Social media platform and engagement is a check box on her to-do list. Branding means logo. Networking means obligations. Marketing means sleazy, technical and expensive voodoo, and self promotion, apart from business cards, is arrogant. Basically, she doesn’t want a bar of it, and yet, her heart is heavy because somehow she thinks she must.
I sit across from her, look her in the eye and tell her this;
Everything you need to know about marketing is already right there inside you. It’s in your heart. It’s how you live your life, what you value, what you love, why you do the things you do, what you dream of, what you desire, how you want to make the world a better place. It’s in your art, the way you treat people, the way you love people, the way you write, cook, craft, nail killer deals, pull off the impossible. It’s in the things people thank you for doing, in the way you make them feel, it’s in your essence - it’s YOU.
There is no expert, competitor, peer, wizened sage, academic, world leader, best-selling author, Forbes business woman of the year 7-times running, no mentor, no coach, no NO ONE who can be who you are nor who can replicate what makes you you.
This is your life and your business and your legacy, and what makes it special and unique is the fact that it’s yours and it comes from you, because no one else can do that, ever.
You already possess all you need to know and already hold all the answers. It’s like taking your baby to see the 100-year-old community nurse with over 10,000 years cumulative experience - she is an awesome resource, no doubt about it, she’s an expert, but for all that experience and all that knowledge, you’re still the superior expert on YOUR baby. And really, her job is to draw on all her masses of experience and expertise to extract from you the courage and confidence to accept and step into ownership of your own expertise for your own baby.
Your business is like that baby. Even with all the experience of the world at your fingertips, the only way that any of that can make sense and lead to something positive and meaningful is if you draw on and incorporate what you already know. Your values, your desires, your why. Without this, any marketing tactics you apply are just that, tactics. You don’t need tactics, you need real connection with real people between what you do and why you do it. Those are the things that people care about and those are the things that set you apart, give you wings and let you soar.
Business without the connection to your why coming through in everything do, everything you say, everywhere you show up, is dry, dead and boring. And yep, very often it's kind of sleazy. It’s the same as everyone else using tactics to blab out their need for attention. Forget attention right now, forget metrics to start with, just focus on connecting with your inner drivers and the people who already care about what you’re doing. Start there and everything else will follow, I promise.
Yes, it can seem like a scary, kind of fantastical, idealistic woo-woo way of thinking, but actually it’s the only sustainable way of thinking about something you really care about. Start inside of you and start with your people first. Reconnect and define what matters to you and why you’re doing it. What your dreams are for those things that matter, and what you’d love your legacy to be. Write it, say it, feel it. And then tell your people, show your people, connect with the people you already have who care about what you’re doing. They might be your friends, or maybe just one friend. They might be a handful of loyal clients, or employees you know are special. Tell them. Tell them they’re special, tell them your vision for what you’re doing and tell them why it matters. Thank them for supporting you this far and ask them to help you go further, invite them to step onboard.
Amazing zing happens when we give ourselves permission to focus on what matters to us and when we have the courage to be real and honest in saying we really care about something. That kind of connection is innately human - we need it and we thrive on it and it creates magic.
Block out the noise and start here, start on the inside with what you already know for sure. I promise you you’ll feel lighter, more focused, more confident. And once you got that going on, then you can think of exciting and innovative ways to share your message that feel good and right and most of all, authentic. That’s when marketing becomes your work as opposed to something separate. When you’re connected to your why and your people, the marketing of your business IS your business, not something you do on the side. It’s in every single thing you do, for real, no icky about it.
Photo credit: Peeling advertising wall, Marine Line Station, Mumbai, India by Cory Doctorow via Flickr.