“I don’t know how to market,” one of my coaching clients said. “I hate marketing,” declared another. “The marketing thing feels so unnatural to me,” claimed a third.
My response to statements like these from my clients is to reply (gently and compassionately), “I don’t think that’s true. I think you’ve just misunderstood what marketing is, and how it works.”
When You Think You Don’t Know How to Market
To clients who say “I don’t know how,” I point out the definition I give in Get Clients Now!: “Marketing is telling people what you do, over and over.” If you can tell people what you do — in any format or venue — and tell the same people more than once, you do indeed know how to market.
If you go to a networking event once per month, shake peoples’ hands, and say, “I do this,” you are marketing. You are also marketing if you have coffee once per week with a colleague or former co-worker, and talk about your business.
When you send an article you’ve written, which demonstrates how you work, to a mailing list of numerous people, you’re marketing. You are also marketing if you send a personal email to people you know and link to an article written by someone else about your profession, telling them, “This is what I’m doing now.”
You can tell people what you do in writing, online, by phone, face-to-face, from a podium, or in a recording. You can tell them over and over by getting your writing or recording in front of them repeatedly; connecting and re-connecting with them on social media or other online platforms; or calling them, meeting them, or speaking to them more than once.
You already know how to engage in at least one of these activities, and probably more than one. So, you really do know how to market already.
When You Believe You Hate Marketing
If you’re one of those who claim to hate marketing (and I know there are many of you), let me suggest that your dislike is only because you haven’t yet tried enough flavors of marketing to find the one that tastes good to you.
Don’t like going to events? No problem. Network with prospective clients or referral sources one-on-one.
Hate making phone calls? Hold marketing conversations via email and text instead.
Shudder when you think of speaking in public? Put your wisdom in writing and publish it online or in print.
Instead of thinking about marketing as “that thing you hate,” shift your internal dialogue. Ask yourself this — what might be some avenues for telling people about your business which you might actually enjoy? Then, do some of those things.
When Marketing Feels Unnatural to You
Part of the solution to feeling uncomfortable with marketing is finding approaches for telling people about your business that seem more natural to you.
Not drawn to social media, for example? Fine. There are plenty of folks who have thriving businesses with zero social media presence. Ask yourself the question suggested in the previous section to discover activities that feel more aligned to your personality.
Another part of the solution to that “unnatural” feeling is to normalize the way you feel.
Can you remember learning to ride a bicycle? I’ll bet it felt strange at the beginning. You were inexperienced, awkward, and probably a little scared. Yet, the people around you made those feelings okay. Your friends said they felt the same their first time on a bike, and your parents reassured you that you’d soon get better at riding. Everyone said your feelings were normal.
Guess what? If you feel inexperienced, awkward, and a little scared about a new avenue for marketing the first few times you try it, those feelings are normal, too.
When you see the cool kids zipping around a networking event asking for business cards without hesitation, and rattling off their 10-second introduction while keeping a normal pulse rate, it can make you feel incapable or inadequate. But when you translate those feelings as “I’ll never be any good at this” or “I can’t fit in here,” you may be making a serious mistake.
Allow yourself some time to ascend the learning curve of any new marketing activity before you pass judgement on that approach or your ability to use it. You may just need more time learning to ride that new bike before you can gain your balance and know how to operate the gears.
Intention to Get Clients + Consistent Action in that Direction = Marketing
Any activity that allows you to tell people what you do, over and over, can be used for marketing. There are two keys to making this work: 1) decide you will use that activity to get clients, and 2) do it repeatedly.
Clients, students, and colleagues of mine have based successful marketing plans on telling people what they do in practically any medium and setting you can imagine, from mailing letters to alumni of their college, to publishing a blog about their favorite hobby, to having coffee after church.
Don’t let barriers like thinking you don’t know how, believing you don’t like it, or feeling uncomfortable keep you from marketing. Your clients are waiting for you. You only need to tell them — over and over — what you do.