The Ickiness of Marketing

It might possibly be the worst feedback I could ever receive… “you’re too salesy”.  Thankfully I’ve never received it.  But maybe that fear of appearing pushy, too keen on closing the deal, putting profit before humanity has also held me back.

I’ve recently made a big investment into my business.  I’m working with Lynsey Cowan from Elite VA on her Freedom Formula programme.  It’s a costly, but it is SO worth it.  The main thing it’s helping me with is the marketing side of things.

It’s one of those things that I know how to do.  I’ve ran my own companies, or been the leader of third sector organisations pretty much for my whole career. So I know plenty.  I’m fully aware of sales funnels, pipelines, lead magnets and various other icky phrases that feel more at home down a mine than in my business.

But that’s the dichotomy. I am aware of what works and what constitutes good promotion but until recently, over my dead body would an email nurture sequence be sent from my inbox.

Why does it feel odd? Because it IS a double edged thing. I do need to sell my services.  Of course I do!  It’s what keeps this house within my ownership; it’s what feeds my kids. But I don’t want to do it in a disingenuous way.  I don’t want my potential clients and customers to see me as a cowboy.

It’s ridiculous isn’t it? Of course I’m not a cowboy.  I invest time and money into being the best coach and facilitator I am.  I adore humans, the diversity of us all and love working with people to unlock their own potential.  It’s a wonderful job!  But the thought of asking people to sign up to a regular newsletter and “build my list” or download a free PDF (that old lead magnet I mentioned earlier) filled me with all sorts of uncomfortable feelings.

I knew I needed to do something.  I’ve been running my business as it is for about 15 months now.  It’s been wonderfully successful considering I’ve not really done any consistent marketing.  In fact, hang on.  I’m going to rewrite that.  It’s been wonderfully successful.  Full stop. I’ve had the chance to work with fascinating and inspiring individuals and organisations and it’s more than paid the bills.  So with that in mind I thought, what would happen if I really invested and sorted the promotion side out?

I’m in the middle of that journey which has some super unnerving moments, but also so many rewards. I have created that mailing list and this week I’ll publish my second monthly musing email.  And I’ve thought outside the box on the whole lead magnet thing… that is now live, so if you fancy creating your own mini zine of The Little DIY Book of Playfulness, you know where to click!

As Rachel Porter writes in this excellent article, there’s something meta going on here.  I’m writing this blog, which when it comes down to it, is to promote my business and get more clients.  And I’m writing it about feeling off about promotion because it’s like staring capitalism in the face and saying, “OK you win”.  Dammit!  It really is the snake eating it’s tail.

To mix things up a bit, here’s my tuppence worth on how to move from icky sticky stuckness into a place where promotion and marketing is a natural part of entrepreneurialism and feels authentic.

Firstly, I’d say, know your strengths.  I did the Clifton Strengths Finder earlier in the year and blimey, did some pennies drop.  More like two pound coins smacking me straight in the forehead.  What it showed clearly was that my strengths lie in relationship building and influencing; galvanising groups and individuals into action; being the catalyst.  I’m much less strong in the project execution stuff… all the sort of things needed to build a good flow of communication with people who might be interested in what I’ve got to say.  SO, the advice there is outsource the bits you’re not so good at.  It’ll feel really expensive at first but it’ll pay off in the long run.

Secondly, work out how you want to tell your story.  For me, with my background in theatre it simple.  I need to tell stories.  Just like I’m doing now, sharing the journey of a particular aspect of my business with you. Drawing back the curtain so you can look up the magician’s sleeve (who doesn’t like a mixed metaphor in the middle of a blog, eh?).

Third, find your inspiration by actively hunting about.  My book review this week is about Storybrand by Donald Miller.  Head over to LinkedIn or Instagram to see it.  It’s not the most perfect marketing book for me but it’s a hundred times better than the more standard marketing tomes which involve a lot of “shoulds” and a disproportionate love of clip art.

Finally, believe in your products.  Like proper deeply believe, as you would commit to believing in fairies because if you don’t a fairy might die.  Same goes for your products, whether they are actual things or services.  If you don’t believe in them and try to share that belief with others, then they will die because few will have the confidence to part with their hard earned dosh to get them.

And I really do believe in what I do.  I think I’m good at it.  I’ve achieved success that continues to grow and I’ve seen some marvellous results. And now, with the invaluable help from Lynsey and her team, I’m starting to properly share that with the world.

On that note, I received this wonderful testimonial from a fabulous woman (and talented writer), Sara Allkins ages ago.  Did I share it?  No. Not because I wasn’t proud, but because I didn’t prioritise it as I’d rather spend my time on things I’m better at than promotion.  Sigh. But I’m finally sharing it now and with her lovely words, I’ll end…

“Sarah has a gentle, supportive presence that allows you to conduct your own search and find your own way without ever feeling totally alone.

I realised that I actually knew what I needed to do, I had known it for some considerable time. I just had not asked myself the right questions and nor did I expect to know the answer. You asked me

those questions and waited for me to answer. So I answered.

Thank you so much for taking me to task about the relentless war I was waging on myself and my career so far; gentle probing questions that took on my negative assumptions and showed them for what they were, assumptions.”

Sarah Allkins, writer, Scotland