If a client so much as sneezes an idea in my direction, I’ll have a fully fleshed out strategy in under an hour.
You know how all the productivity gurus describe “being in flow”? That’s kind of what happens. My brain starts overflowing with answers.
“Oh! You need to do X. You need to say Y on this specific page. You need to NOT do ABC. You need to hire Z. You need to be in XYZ channels, ignore ABC channels. You need … ”
Boom. Stick that brain dump in a deck, get it to the creative department, and let’s get to work.
Some people are given the gift of a beautiful voice or an eye for design, but not me. I got a penchant for marketing strategy.
Any strategy really. Brand, social, content, you name the buzzword and I can get you a strategic plan for it. A damn good one, too. One that works -- if you implement it.
Dun. Dun. Dun.
[That’s dramatic mood music]
The second I need to market for my business, all my ideas turn to sh*t.
No idea what channel to spend my time in. No idea who my target market is. And I can’t write a headline to save my life.
“Why You Don’t Want to Be a Wantrepr --” ugh no, that’s stupid.
Oooo maybe, “How To Build a Business That Fits Your Life.”
No. Bad. Try again.
“10 Reasons To…” ASFDHISDLFASLDFJAHHHHHHHHHH I HATE EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!
All the skills that make me a great marketer are apparently reserved for clients. The part of my brain that generates brilliance for others turns to mush when it comes to me.
I’m not alone either.
Every week I have the privilege of talking to founders from all over the world and we all have the same problem.
We suck at marketing for ourselves.
And we know it.
I have four hypotheses as to why this happens:
- We get obsessed with industry standards and trends instead of doing what we know works.
- We think a lot about our colleagues, since they’re the ones commenting on our posts and sharing our articles.
- We ignore our instincts.
- We focus on “what we want to do” instead of “what people will pay for.”
In the original version of this article I went through each of these in detail but then I deleted it all when I realized they’re just different words for the same thing:
We stop trusting ourselves.
This week I sat down with a friend and started listing a ton of legitimate reasons why I couldn’t launch a new service. He looked at me, irritated, and said, “Margo. Just f*cking launch.”
Hmph. He was right.
I had legitimate excuses, but all excuses sound like legitimate ones. Look:
- I need more time!
- There’s not enough people on my list.
- We can do it, but after the podcast is released…in 3 months.
- That’s fine, but not till we get an editor.
- It can’t be done!
- This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be done!!
Yeah, it isn’t.
Spoiler alert: No marketing is done the way it’s supposed to be done.
At least, I’ve never seen it. Not in a decade.
[Note: If you’ve seen a marketing strategy that was created with plenty of time and executed without issue, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org becuase I’d like to hear about it.]
For the rest of us, we have to learn to ship with mistakes.
We’ve spent so much of our careers teaching our clients what “perfect” and “best in class” looks like, we’ve forgotten that that’s not reality.
Reality is messy. Last minute. Understaffed. (Dare I say) reactive.
Most of us are flying by the seat of our pants. But our energy is going to convincing each other (and our prospects) that we’ve got this figured out. That we have “systems” and “process” and perfect benchmarks and …
Whatever -- just between you and me: I know you don’t have any of that. Even if your website says you do.
I know your launch emails haven’t been written yet even though your FB ads went live yesterday. I know that yellow on your website isn’t the style guide yellow. Hell, I know you don’t have a style guide. I know you list all those funnel optimization services on your website, but really make money from ghostwriting blogs.
We all know.
It’s how this works.
So let’s end this cycle of “the shoemaker has no shoes,” by going back to the basics you already know, but have been ignoring:
What do your customers want?
NOT: What do they need?
NOT: What you think your they should care about?
NOT: What your competitors are offering?
NOT: What will your colleagues think if they land on your site?
NOT: Will former clients be impressed with me now?
NOT: What do I want people to think I’m up to?
Just: What do your customers want?
Your job has always only been one thing: Connecting your solutions to the real problems your customer’s have.
Telling others how to do their marketing is a different skill. One we’ve gotten really good at. But it’s not the same as doing it.
Lucky for us the schism between the two isn’t so big. It just requires some …discomfort.
We gotta get comfortable with being wrong (in front of former colleagues). And playing around…thinking outside of the “trends” and risking being perceived as weird.
Which can be embarrassing and awkward for our reputation as the “expert.”
But (hear me out) it can also work out really well for the people we actually care about: our customers.