As an entrepreneur, business owner or freelancer, you have to get comfortable with stepping into the role of marketer. Because in order to build a sustainable and thriving business that serves you, your lifestyle and your goals, you need marketing.
Spreading the word about your work and your ideas can feel uncomfortable. But the inconvenient truth is that there can be no making without marketing. Too many businesses fail because they didn’t reach the right people: a completely preventable tragedy.
If you know it’s time for you to make some mindset shifts about marketing your business, I wrote this for you.
We are all marketers
Marketing is more intuitive than you think.
The act of marketing identifies people who want to make a change, creates demand for what you have, and helps the curious make a decision. It’s that simple.
If you’ve ever created a petition, or placed a job vacancy, or written a Gumtree ad…you’re a marketer.
If you’ve ever applied for a job, or run in an election as a community leader, or convinced a friend to buy a book you liked…you’re a marketer.
We tend to get overwhelmed and nervous when we think about marketing because we imagine ourselves shouting on a soapbox or coming across like a sleazy salesman. We tend to associate the word “marketing” with the worst types of marketing we’ve seen, and forget all the times we discovered a great product, service or person who added a heap of value to our lives.
How did we found about about them? Marketing.
Caring is the best marketing strategy
Good marketing is an act of generosity. It’s about listening to people first, then offering to help them make the change they seek.
When you offer to listen to someone, you get their full attention. No tricks or distracting tactics needed.
“Great marketers don’t use consumers to solve their company’s problem; they use marketing to solve other people’s problems.” — Seth Godin
You should think of marketing not as a way to get someone’s — anyone’s — attention, but as a way to build a relationship with the right people over time. A relationship based on genuinely caring.
It’s not going to speak for itself
“I’d rather let my work/products/services speak for themselves”, is something I hear too often from people in business. People bringing much-needed change to the world. People with values and passion and grit.
But you have to understand that it’s not enough. Your work is not going to speak for itself.
The best work, ideas and products are rarely instantly embraced. It’s no coincidence that some of our most treasured books were rejected the most times. Gone with the Wind was rejected by publishers 40 times, The 4-hour Work Week 25 times, Twilight 14 times, Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone 12 times…and so on.
We humans are lazy and naturally gravitate towards the familiar, the loud and the confident. In a noisy world, your work and the change you seek to make with it needs help finding the people it’s designed to serve.
Marketing is not the same as advertising
“…We made millions and spent $0 on marketing!”
Whenever I hear business success stories that mention this phrase, I roll my eyes.
What they really mean is they didn’t spend any money on paid advertising. Paid advertising, or “paid media”, means paying to send messages to a mass or a targeted group of people via a media channel. It also happens to be just one of about 150 types of marketing.
What those “we-made-it-without-marketing” businesses fail to mention is that they invested a great deal of time, energy and money into…
- Clarifying their message
- Developing & positioning their brand in the market
- Customer research
- Building a website with a fantastic user experience (UX)
- Growing an email list
- Creating useful content and nurturing a loyal community on social media
- Training their customer service team so customers keep coming back
- Building a network around their company and forming brand partnerships
- Taking care of their team so they talk about how much they enjoy working there
All of these things and more are marketing. It’s true — you don’t need paid advertising to bring in customers and grow a sustainable and thriving business. But you absolutely *do* need to invest in marketing.
How to tell if you’re not marketing enough
- You don’t have enough customers
- The wrong type of customer keeps showing up
- When people introduce you and your business to other people, they explain what you do all wrong
- Your ideas aren’t catching on
- The people around you aren’t interested in what you have to say
- Your work isn’t fulfilling you, and all of the above are stressing you out
There are likely people out there enjoying the success you seek who are less qualified than you, whose products are not as thoughtful or as useful as yours, and who don’t have your principles and values. Simply because they are marketing.
But once you recognise that you have a marketing problem, know that you don’t have to be stuck here forever. You can decide to turn on your light.
Make it simple
Where I see a lot of entrepreneurs and freelancers get stuck is when they over-complicate their marketing approach.
The way I see it, there are two basic steps to marketing success.
- You need a clear message — one that explains how you solve a problem for a specific type of person
- You need to build a community around it.
It’s that simple.
It doesn’t matter what social media platform you’re using, or what email software you have, or what colour your logo is if you don’t have Steps 1 and 2 sorted.
Simple marketing check-list
- Do you have a one-liner for your business that both inspires and intrigues? Are you and your team using it consistently across social media, your website and in person?
- Does your website copy contain your clear message, identifying who your target customer is and explaining the success they can expect after buying your product/services?
- Are you inviting people to join a community around your message and your business, whether on social media, an email list or through in-person events?
The world desperately needs more of what you have. So go forth and spread the word about your business.
I’m Imogen, and I help small business owners with big visions overcome marketing confusion to attract more customers and grow their company.
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