Career | How To Feel Good About Marketing Yourself
Most of us as creative women hate the idea of marketing and selling ourselves. There are all sorts of factors at play here: lack of confidence, not wanting to take up space, the general grossness that we feel around selling and marketing. It’s that last one that I really want to dig into, because it really flows through everything else. We have this idea of what marketing and selling “should” be because we see the “successful” people touting their six figure launches and lead nurture funnels and it doesn’t feel like us – cue a total break down of confidence and a lack of belief that you have what it takes to run a business.
But there’s more to marketing than what you hear on those entrepreneurial podcasts and the first results you find on Google. Those are the ‘shout the loudest’ tactics, the ‘go viral’ tactics, the ‘make 100k in three hours’ tactics. They aren’t, however, the tactics that grow a loyal community around a brand, that create a business that is sustainable and ultimately have you doing work that feeds your soul. And for all of us here, that’s what we want, right?
So this is your permission slip to disregard all the “must-dos” you’ve been told and build a business that is true to you. This is your permission to follow your intuition, your permission to stand up for what you really want out of your business, and your permission to feel good about marketing yourself.
Now let’s jump into how you’re going to do that.
SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY
One of the reasons I started my marketing consultancy business was because I could see that when googling ‘marketing problems’, the results were less than relevant for me. Most marketing advice on the front page of Google is aimed at corporate marketers, the ones selling tens of thousands of pounds of software to other marketers.
This type of marketing is not for creative people. Such as coaches, photographers, indie shop owners. I knew that some of this stuff was way above the level I needed to be, but I saw other business owners getting bogged down in the detail of it, and lose faith in their own abilities.
My idea was to try to remove the detail and simplify everything into a way that fits us as passionate people, by creating something new.
For example, the sales funnel. Put into google ‘sales funnel template’ and you’ll see lots of primary coloured templates with seven step processes that doesn’t look anything like what happens in your business. And the first thoughts that come to mind are that if your business process doesn’t fit this template it must be wrong, right?
THE TRUTH IS THAT IF IT DOESN’T LOOK LIKE YOUR BUSINESS THEN IT’S NOT GOING TO HELP YOUR BUSINESS.
Don’t squeeze yourself into a seven step process that is going to take up more of your time and not make you any money. Try to think about the sales funnel as a three step process:
top of the funnel are people just discovering you,
middle of the funnel are people learning more,
bottom of the funnel are people ready to buy.
Then all you need to do is make sure you’re providing content and information that is suited to each stage of the funnel. Simple.
START WITH PURPOSE
I talk about purpose constantly. Because without it you have nothing. How can you run a purpose-driven business when you don’t know what that purpose is?
GETTING SUPER CLEAR ON YOUR PURPOSE, YOUR VALUE, WHAT YOU WANT TO BE KNOWN FOR IS THE FIRST STEP TO MARKETING SUCCESS.
It gives you a hook, something for people to remember you by in this era of scrolling and five second attention spans. More importantly, it gives your customers something to buy into – you might be selling a photography session, but what they’re buying is the way you feel about and shoot families.
A clear purpose is an anchor for you and your brand. As creatives we can be pretty magpie-ish and scamper off after the shiny new projects, but having a clear purpose becomes a check on yourself. Hold up every idea, every new opportunity to that purpose to see if it fits – if not, it doesn’t happen.
AUDIENCE KNOWLEDGE IS YOUR BEST RESOURCE
When it comes to getting to grips with audience knowledge I really push my clients, and they kind of hate me for it. Because it’s hard – it’s hard to think of the imaginary blur in your head as a real person, and harder still to think about what might be worrying them on a Tuesday morning. But, in business as well as life, the hardest things are the ones that are most important.
ONCE YOU HAVE A REALLY IN DEPTH, PRACTICAL KNOWLEDGE OF YOUR CUSTOMER (FOCUSING MORE ABOUT WHAT CHALLENGES THEM RATHER THAN ON THEIR DEMOGRAPHICS), YOUR MARKETING PLAN WRITES ITSELF.
I’m not even really exaggerating here; when you know what drives your customer it becomes really easy to know what to do to get in front of them. When you know the sort of things they’re Googling you can make sure you’re creating content that will show up on those searches. When you know which magazines they read you can pitch articles or advertise in them. When you know what Instagram posts they like you can make sure you’re creating similar content and using the same hashtags to get in front of them. It all flows from this customer knowledge.
If we simplify down all the theory and BS about sales and marketing, it is just an exchange between two people. Two people that want the same thing: for the customer to buy a product and for it to improve their life. Somehow, along the way, we’ve turned it into a game, a situation where there can be a winner and a loser, where we have to play a system in order to win. Strip it back, and just remember that you’re talking to another real person who wants to buy what you sell. Lean into that and let it inform everything you do.
People buy from people, particularly in this age where consumers are growing tired of automated messaging and off-shore phone lines. Your intrinsically human self is one huge advantage you have against the big businesses – but so often we feel like we need to speak ‘professionally’ online, and end up talking like a bank. Communicate in a way that sounds like you, like your brand, in a way that demonstrates your purpose. This is the way you’re going to catch the eye, get people interested, and form longer lasting relationships.
SERVE WITH VALUE
Whenever anyone asks me ‘I want to start a business – what should I do?’, my answer is always ‘how can you provide value?’. Not all marketers will do this, and the ones that do may only go so far, but being as valuable as you possibly can be is central to soulful, slow marketing.
As I’ve already said, sales and marketing is just an exchange between two people, but what they’re exchanging is value. At the point of sale it’s obvious what that value is: a product for money. But the value exchange happens all the way through the customer’s journey before they get their purse out. They exchange their attention and a website click for a beautiful picture on your Instagram feed, they exchange their time for browsing on your site, they exchange their email address for an ebook or 10% off code. And the more valuable you can make what you’re providing, the more they’ll appreciate and reciprocate.
As humans we tend to approach situations with the mind set of ‘what can I get out of this?’. It’s natural, and totally not something to beat yourself up about. But as a business owner you have to change that round to think ‘what can I do for my customer?’ – that way you’re both meeting with the same mission in mind. If you think ‘how can I help?’ rather than ‘what can I do?’, your activities, and entire business model will be built on the value your customer wants. Because at the end of the day, no one is going to pay you money to fulfil your dream, they’re going to pay you money because you help them.