I had an epiphany the other day: that saying, “I don’t have time for marketing” is basically the same thing as saying, “I don’t have time for exercise.”
Marketing is to your business as exercise is to your health.
Let’s break it down:
They’re about pushing your limits. Exercise is about pushing your body to its limits so you can increase flexibility, strength, and endurance. Marketing is about pushing your business to the next level so you can increase your profits and your reach.
They’re uncomfortable. You get sweaty, either from all that physical exertion (exercise) or from sheer fear (marketing). If you’re anything like me, you halfway cringe when people like that semi-awkward Instagram post that you threw together, or you start sweating profusely when you publish your first Facebook ad.
They don’t give instant results. You don’t get a six-pack from doing one ab routine. Unfortunately. And you don’t build a massive audience from one blog post. Exercise and marketing require consistent input to reap rewards.
They’re important, rather than urgent. You can always skip a workout when you have an early client meeting, and you can always skip marketing when you’ve got a heavy client load. But sooner or later, trading the important for the urgent will bite you in the ass. So do the important things first. Or else you might never do them.
They’re an indicator of health. Just like exercise is a health indicator, quality marketing activities indicate health for your business. If you’re not spreading the word, you’re not doing much business.
They require a balance of activities. Experts agree that a variety of types of exercise contribute to health: cardio, strength-building, and stretching/active recovery. Likewise, it’s ideal to balance your marketing activities across channels and modes (social, email, ads, free content, etc.).
So, if you’ve been putting off marketing for your business, just pick one activity to do, and do it regularly.
I experienced a personal tragedy this week that struck me to my core.
One of my oldest friends is Jennifer Murphy. She has four younger siblings: Jessica, Christina, Stephanie, and Vincent. I’ve known her family for twenty years.
Jen and I grew close in sixth grade. We used to call each other during the commercials of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We used to take insanely long walks around our neighborhood and just talk about everything. She threw me a surprise 13th birthday party at her house. We’ve been friends through high school, through college, through our early marriages and now, through motherhood.
Jen and I don’t see each other much anymore, but when we do, we pick up right where we left off. There’s never any awkwardness about how much time has passed. That’s the beauty of old friends.
Yesterday I learned that Jen’s sister Christina, and Christina’s husband Tyler, were murdered in their home in Churchville, PA in a senseless act of violence.
Christina was 28. Tyler was 27.
I cried. I talked to my mom and my sister on the phone. I called Jen and left her a tearful message of love and support.
And then I sat down at my desk to work. I emailed my team about what had happened, canceled some meetings I didn’t really need to be at, answered some emails.
And then I went back to bed. I was actually amazed at how much pain I was in. I started having lots of thoughts about how I “shouldn’t” be so sad.
But I was.
I called my friend Caroline. She made space for me and for this tragedy in her day. I told her, “I’m thinking of Anna Kunnecke’s wise words – that I’m a cathedral.” Meaning, I’m big enough to hold all my big emotions. I breathed into the pain and sorrow. I let it build and build and build, then crest, and then diminish, at least a little.
I got up and made myself a fruit smoothie.
“Remember Anne Lamott,” Caroline said. “Only go as fast as the slowest part of you can go.”
I did a little work. My brain felt scrambled. I handed off the responsibility of leading a meeting to my boss. When the meeting time came, she had been pulled onto a phone call with a prospective client. I let other team members lead. I participated. And then I waited. There were a few long, awkward stretches of silence when it was time to move on and no one was driving the meeting forward.
It felt like a relief not to work so hard.
In the evening, when my husband and son were home, I had a realization: that the greatest legacy to come out of this tragedy for me could be the imperative to be fully present in each moment of my life, to be intensely grateful for my loved ones, and to appreciate every day.
Because tomorrow is never guaranteed.
Normally, I talk about soul-powered marketing on this blog. Today is all about soul. Because these stories, these experiences, are what make us human. And marketing is merely humans connecting with other humans.
When we make time and space for our own humanness, we allow others to do the same. And that is a beautiful thing.
So this week, call up an old friend, or a sibling, or a parent, and tell them that you love them.
And we’ll pick up next Friday with more soul-powered marketing goodness.
Master certified life coach Susan Hyatt loves shoes.
She tells a story about a regular day driving around her hometown of Evansville, Indiana, when she saw a sign outside her favorite Boutique, Flutter.
The sign said ALL SHOES AND BOOTS: 60% OFF. She screeched to a halt, pulled into a parking space, and went inside. The sale was AMAZING! It was one day only! They were clearing the way for a new season of inventory, and all their designer shoes were marked down to ridiculously low prices. She pulled out her phone and texted her best friend: Girl, you better get down to Flutter RIGHT NOW! They are having an AMAZING sale! Come now! Do it!
Susan talks about how all marketing and sales should channel this concept of shoe sale energy: you’re so excited about a product or service that you tell your all your friends they HAVE TO HAVE this thing!
You can channel this same girl, you cannot MISS this! energy to make offers to your customers.
Brooke Castillo talks about a similar concept. When she invites people to join her premium monthly coaching program and they say no, she doesn’t get sad or discouraged or anxious. She’s like, WHAT? You don’t want to JOIN? Do you understand what you’re GETTING? She is so confident in the amazing value that she offers – and the level at which she overdelivers for her clients – that she truly doesn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to join. (She certainly doesn’t make their ‘no’ mean anything about the value of her program, her experience, or her worth as a person or as a businesswoman.)
Let’s break down this concept of shoe sale energy into four tenets that we can use as a basis for a marketing plan.
Susan has a relationship with her favorite boutique. They know her and she knows them. If it had been a random store she’d been driving by that had a Sale sign outside, she may not have stopped in the middle of her busy day.
In your business, this ‘relationship’ piece is the Know, Like, Trust maxim that you know as the foundation for marketing. You form a relationship with your tribe by creating free content.
Your relationship-building free content needs to have three things:
Susan knows that Flutter A) carries high quality shoes; B) carries her shoe size; and C) that the vibe matches her sense of style.
In other words, this business sells high-quality products, the products fit her needs, and she’s their ideal customer – she’s part of their tribe.
If you don’t know whether your products or services fit the needs of your ideal customer, you need to go old-school and get on the phone with some people. When my coach Katrina McGhee was putting together her online course about finding career freedom, she wanted to talk to a few people about their career struggles so she could dial in the language she was using. So she put out a call to her email list and social media followers: if you felt stuck in your job, she wanted to interview you for 20 minutes, and she’d follow that with 20 minutes of free coaching on any topic you wanted. It worked like gangbusters.
So if you need to verify that your product is valuable to your ideal client, get on the phone and ask them, and offer them something in return. Everybody wins!
Susan stopped in the middle of a busy day because she saw an offer she couldn’t pass up – a 60% off shoe sale. The offer was specific and compelling.
Brooke Castillo describes it this way: Imagine that you have a friend hanging out at your house for the afternoon. The two of you are sitting in your living room and you say, “Feel free to help yourself to anything to eat in the fridge.”
It’s very hospitable of you! You don’t want to limit your friend to one food, right?
Well…is your friend really going to go poking in your fridge, looking through your leftovers and wondering if you’re saving that snack for your lunch tomorrow?
What if, instead, your friend came in to your living room and you said, “Here’s a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies, freshly baked especially for you. Please have one!”
In our marketing and sales, we often need to go from “Help yourself to anything in the fridge!” to “Please enjoy this freshly baked chocolate chip cookie.” We need to go from offering everything and the kitchen sink to making a single, specific, compelling offer that our customers can’t pass up. Just like your friend who’s enjoying that cookie you offered her.
If Flutter wasn’t having a 60% off sale, Susan probably wouldn’t have gone shoe shopping that day. The value she was able to get on sale day far outweighed the price she paid for her shoes.
Make sure that the value you’re offering your customers outweighs the price you’re charging so much that saying YES is a no-brainer.
Case in point: Brooke Castillo’s monthly coaching program, Self-Coaching Scholars. I’m a member, and it is freaking AMAZING. Each month, you get a hard copy workbook in the mail with teaching material and a daily exercise, a podcast workbook, three videos on the monthly theme, weekly live coaching calls plus bonus calls on specific topics, access to ask coaching questions any time and get a customized answer, and access to a free private 10 minute tutoring session. PLUS, you get access to every digital program she’s ever done, including courses on money and entrepreneurship. The cost? $297/month. No-brainer.
Note that overdelivering value is a different mindset than undercharging for your services. In Brooke’s case, her business model allows her to sell unlimited seats to Scholars, which means overdelivering value for each of her clients is just fun. So if you’re a coach or run a service-based business, consider products and tools that you can produce one time to create extra value for your clients, rather than undercharging for your live time.
When you build a relationship with your tribe, offer them products and services that exactly fit their needs, make a specific, compelling offer, and overdeliver value, people are going to be knocking down the door to work with you.
Content is king.
Yet, if you’re anything like me, you find it challenging to consistently create new, valuable content for your business.
Other things keep getting in the way. Like client work. Like developing the online course you’re so excited about. Like the homework for your Mastermind class.
But if you’re not consistently creating free, valuable content that engages your tribe and builds your email list, your business will stall out.
So how do you move forward?
Instead of changing your actions, you need to change your thinking.
First, write down all the thoughts that come up when you think about creating content. Thoughts like:
This is too hard.
I don’t know what to write.
I don’t feel like doing this.
I don’t have time for this.
I’m not a good writer.
I should be doing something else.
How do these thoughts make you feel?
Tired, unmotivated, frustrated, blocked. Discouraged, irritated, rushed.
When you feel tired, unmotivated, etc., what actions do you typically take?
Personally, I procrastinate (do something – anything – else!) or buffer (mentally check out with something mindless, like Instagram, email or stress eating chocolate).
When I procrastinate and buffer, I don’t create anything new – or it feels like pulling teeth to do so.
There’s another way. We can create new thoughts that makes us feel motivated and strong, so that we’ll take massive action like writing the blog post, drafting the outline of the e-book, or researching the steps needed to start a new podcast.
Start with the feeling state you want to create. How do you like to feel when you’re working at your edge? I like to feel focused, calm and motivated. You might like to feel creative, inspired, excited, or confident. Pick one or two that resonate for you.
Then, create a new thought that creates that feeling state. You must believe the thought. It can’t be just an aspirational thought. It should be a thought that you believe that feels good when you think it. (It shouldn’t creative cognitive dissonance as something you ‘should’ want to think. It should be something you actually enjoy thinking!)
Try one of these thoughts:
I’m a total badass at content creation.
I’m channeling [insert your favorite content creator here – mine are Susan Hyatt, Brooke Castillo and Amy Porterfield].
I can do this.
I’m smart enough to figure this out.
I’m going to make a decision about my content and move forward.
I can do hard things.
I don’t have to feel like writing my blog, I just have to do it.
Write down the new thought. You can write it on a post-it and stick it to your computer monitor, write it on your daily to-do list, or type it in Evernote at the top of the screen where you’re creating your content.
Now, schedule an hour on your calendar this week to create new content. An hour is better than nothing, so don’t skip the hour because you can’t schedule two or three hours. If you have to schedule the hour in three 20-minute segments, do that.
When it’s time to create, practice thinking the new thought a few times. Imagine you’re an actor in a play who’s generating the feeling state you chose. And then: spend the hour creating. Don’t stop to check email, get a snack, or scroll through Facebook. Focus for this one hour. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done!
Does this sound like you?
You feel like you’re a rat on a wheel, between trying to serve your existing clients, market your next product launch, and keep up with all the free content you feel pressured to produce. Plus you’re not sure that the free content is having the results you want, but you’re so busy you can’t assess its impact, so you just keep running.
You’re not getting the results you want with the content you producing, so you slowly let some of that content slow to a trickle and stop, without a conscious plan for doing so.
You need a content strategy for your coaching business.
Okay, I know that the term “content strategy” sounds fancy. Stay with me!
A content strategy doesn’t have to require a marketing team. It just has to work for your business.
So let’s take a step back. Why do you create free content, anyway?
Brooke Castillo, master life coach instructor, teaches that the best marketing is giving people results ahead of time – before they ever pay you.
All of your free content should aim to give people results. All of your free content should serve one of two purposes – to build your brand (show people who you are) or to market your business (show people you can help them – by helping them).
Adding tactics – starting a podcast, adding a social media channel – isn’t going to give you the results you want in your business unless you have a strategy to deploy each tactic effectively and align it with what you’re already doing and with your business goals for the quarter and the year.
A cohesive content strategy will enable you to:
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I hear this from my clients all the time:
I don’t know what to write.
I have so many ideas, I don’t know where to start.
I sit down to write and I can’t come up with anything original. Everything I want to say has been said before. Everyone is tired of reading about this topic. It’s oversaturated.
I just need a road map. An assignment. I need a FOCUS.
Here’s the ironic thing: I’ve been putting off switching the focus of my blog for a long time. Because I didn’t know what to write. Because I wasn’t sure how people would receive it. Because I didn’t know what my third blog post would be…so why would I write the first one?
I recently heard Marie Forleo say that she thinks about money and creative ideas in the same way: There’s always more where that came from.
If we aren’t afraid of the well running dry, we can put our ideas out into the world and trust that we’ll always have more ideas.
And this, from Alexandra Franzen: If you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin, try a tiny project.
A tiny project you can complete in a day or two or three, instead of a giant project that’s going to take many months.
I read about tiny projects and I felt the tingling at the base of my spine. So I came upstairs to write this post for you.
If you don’t know what to write, pick one thing … and write about it. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering. You don’t have to say anything brand-new. You don’t have to change anyone’s life with one blog post, or one tiny e-book, or a new landing page for your website or a new Facebook post. You don’t have to be all things to all people.
Everyone doesn’t have to like you. And not everyone will.
So if the voices of your critics (or just your mean-girl self) are howling at you that every sentence is terrible, try this exercise from Anne Lamott: imagine all the critical voices are coming from tiny mice. Then, pick up each mouse-thought and drop it into a jar. Screw on the lid and enjoy the silence.
If your fingers are itching to check email, to scroll through Instagram, resist the urge. Sit your butt in your desk chair for a tiny amount of time (20-30 minutes) and write the thing. You don’t have to finish it. Just put some words down on paper that weren’t there before.
After all, the way that you create big things in the world is by creating a little bit every day.
You don’t need to decide on your absolute perfect client profile to start writing. You don’t need to overhaul your website before you update the copy on your About page. You don’t need to plan your next seventeen business moves before you create that new opt-in, or that free video series.
You just need to pick one thing and create a little bit every day.