Listen to this post:
Whether you’re a micro or small business owner, a solopreneur, or an entrepreneurial author, your livelihood depends in great part on your ability to market yourself and your business. Trouble is, you don’t have a marketing department or a bottomless budget for outsourcing. Like it or not, you’re going to have to get your hands dirty.
Before you heave a big sigh and give me that look of pained resignation, what if I told you marketing could be fun? Yes, that’s right. I said “Marketing can be fun.”
In fact, I think that if marketing is not fun, you’re doing it wrong.
Though some people would have you believe otherwise, marketing is not rocket science. Sure, we can complicate the hell out of it with fancy algorithms, complex data manipulations, and an endless parade of technology tools. We could, but we don’t need to.
As with most things, simpler is better.
Don’t you agree?
Let’s take a trip back to an idyllic summer afternoon …
You’re a kid, sitting around with some friends on a beautiful summer’s day – blue skies, puffy clouds, the sun beating down on the street. Trouble is, you and your friends can’t think of anything to do, and you’re bored. Mom comes around and says, “Why don’t you kids put up a lemonade stand.”
What do you and your friends do first?
Do you perform market research, create buyer personas, do a competitive analysis on all the other, neighborhood lemonade stands?
No. You don’t.
You build a stand, make some lemonade, and start waving at passing cars.
You might call some of your other friends to come by for a tall, refreshing glass of the best lemonade in town. Your mom might call some of her friends.
You keep things simple.
You don’t over think things.
You do what comes naturally and easily.
Easy Marketing Tip #1: Find your marketing happy place.
You do have one. I promise.
Expect to have fun.
Embrace the adventure.
Avoid getting blocked, falling into ruts, and making marketing a chore.
You started your business because something about it excited you, right? Hold onto that feeling and let it power everything you do, including marketing.
One of worst things you can do is try to follow the rules.
Newsflash: There is no “right” way to market. The myth of best practices is a dangerous one, leading many a business owner down a primrose path that’s destined for burnout. If you detest writing, don’t set yourself up for misery by launching a text-based blog. If you don’t enjoy online conversations, think twice before investing a lot of time in social media. Play to your strengths.
Easy Marketing Tip #2: Don’t worry so much about failure.
You’ve heard the song and dance before: failure is how we learn and grow, failure means you’re making progress, failure is a necessary part of success.
Maybe, but failure still sucks.
I’m not saying you have to like failure, but without a willingness to fail, you can’t experiment. Without a willingness to fail, you lose all the opportunities that go along with “Hey, we could…” and “What if we…?” Marketing is all about testing. You try something, measure results, and then either optimize or try something new.
Think about your lemonade stand. Maybe you’d never built a lemonade stand before, or didn’t even know how to make lemonade. Did that stop you? No. You were willing to figure it out on the way. You weren’t boxed in by all the constraints of the cant’s. You were open to the unknown possibilities.
Easy Marketing Tip #3: Keep it simple … silly.
It doesn’t have to be perfect.
You don’t have to do everything.
You’ll never have all the answers.
Would it be nice to have your marketing system all buttoned up and functioning like a well-oiled machine? Of course. That’s a no-brainer. BUT … should you hold off on doing any marketing until you’ve reached that rare state of nirvana? Definitely not. You don’t have to sort out all the gory details before you start. Just start, and go from there. (Remember – all of marketing is testing and experimentation. Put something out there and learn from it!) Perfect is a form of paralysis. Get over it and get moving.
Beyond the Pitfall of Perfection lies the Ensnarement of Everything: so many platforms, so little time, strategies galore, and tactics to keep you busy until the proverbial cows come home, make dinner, and settle in to watch a cowboy movie on Netflix. Start small. Stay focused. Resist the siren call of shiny, new objects. Trying to be everywhere at once just dilutes your efforts. Smart repurposing is one thing, but dashing from platform to platform will wear you out (and wear your patience thin).
Finally, you may as well face the awful truth now: you will never have all the answers. I’m sure you’re super smart and savvy, but the reality is that there is just too much for anyone to learn in one lifetime. New things are always launching, existing things are always evolving, and the stuff everyone swore by yesterday is suddenly no longer viable. Let go of your well intentioned but seriously misguided need to stay up-to-speed on Everything. There’s no need, and pursuing such a lofty goal will take up way too much of your valuable time.
Easy Marketing Tip #4: Pay attention … to yourself.
Most of the time, the answers we need are right there in front of us. We just need to learn to notice them.
Content may be king, but a good king serves more than he rules. If you feel like you’re being ruled by the iron fist of content overwhelm, it may be time to step away from the onslaught of incoming RSS feeds, email newsletters, webinars, podcasts, ebooks, and everything else you’ve signed up for in an effort to stay on top of everything marketing.
You know more than you give yourself credit for. Most marketing is based on common sense and a basic understanding of human psychology and behavior. It has less to do with technology and more to do with emotions. You’re human (I assume), therefore, you have the basic skill set to understand marketing. Trust me.
As you experiment with different marketing approaches, pay attention to what works and what doesn’t, what feels right, the kinds of responses you get from your audience, and so forth. Give yourself the gift of a little quiet time each week (or, every couple of weeks) to absorb what’s been happening with your marketing. You know your customers and your business better than anyone else. Listen to feedback and your own inner voice and you’ll know soon enough what your next step should be.
Easy Marketing Tip #5: Focus on the relationship.
Last, but certainly not least, when you think about your marketing don’t think about broadcasting your message to an “audience” or influencing your “target demographic.” Think about creating a real relationship with each customer, one at a time. You’re a real person, they are real people. Having a dialog and interacting in a mutually beneficial way should not be that hard.
When you’re working on your marketing – whether it’s a blog post or an email, a sales page or an about page, a print ad or a brochure – think about your message as a conversation, not a billboard. Frame things up in terms of how you can help. Pretend you’re talking to just one customer, person-to-person.
If you can find your marketing happy place, get over your fear of failure, keep things simple, listen to your instincts, and focus on the relationships with your customers, you will suddenly find that marketing is a lot easier than you’d originally thought. In fact, you might even start to have a little fun with it, just like you did when you were a kid, standing on the side of the road, flagging down cars in front of your lemonade stand.