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Many of the tools, resources, programs, and apps we have available today – Instagram, Pinterest, Periscope, Tumblr, Twitter, etc., are black holes of content (as much as I love them!). They can suck the life out of us as much as they can inspire us; they leave us feeling connected and invigorated, or wishing we hadn’t even bothered in the first place.
So how in the world do you carry out your message without contributing to the litter, looking like a carbon copy, and tainting your passion in the process?
You take it off-line. No, seriously.
I’m not talking about billboards, TV ads, or other traditional means.
I’m talking about y-o-u, the creative, the writer, the artist behind the lens or paint brush, the advisor, the consultant – the brains of the operation.
Here are some (of many) things to consider as you evaluate your approach to digital marketing (without using too much technical marketing jargon):
If I could only say one thing, it would this: provide value. If you’re not providing value on some level to your audience, then what’s the point? Think of your marketing message as an authentic conversation with your customer. The heart of all marketing is knowing your customer – their hopes, dreams, fears, wants, and desires, and helping to solve them. The best way to find out is by talking to them, not at them. Ultimately, you want them to ‘walk away’ having learned something.
Okay, I know I promised no marketing jargon. In-bound is a fancy way of saying your customer is coming to you. Dream, right? It’s totally possible! By following #1, and creating effective content (blogs, social media posts, e-books, courses, infographics, videos, etc.) and keeping it in context (right place, right time) you’re practically rolling out the red carpet for your customer.
As hinted at in #2, you want to be in as many places, as your target audience is, while still doing so with excellence. You can’t build a contagious brand if you cut corners or try to grow everything all at one. There’s a balance between broadening your efforts and spreading yourself thin. You’ll want to find your context sweet spot. If you can’t effectively manage 5 social media channels, blog, email marketing, and everything else that comes with creativepreneurship, figure out the top 2-3 mediums your audience is interacting with most and really go for those. Another approach – there’s plenty of software platforms (HubSpot, HootSuite, Buffer, Edgar) that help you manage all of your content execution.
GIVE EVERYTHING YOU DO A PURPOSE AND A FLOW.
This is also known as defining the sales process/funnel. The goal is to gear everything you do towards your target audience. Think: where are you taking your readers/customers/clients when they come across your content? You’re trying to sell stuff, right? How easy are you making that for your people? Are they getting a clear understanding of what you offer? Are you making efforts at relationship building (with things like email opt-ins and regular communication) in the process?
Okay, so this one is really just for your creative mojo. Sometimes physically stepping away from your workspace can get all the brain juices flowing again. Part of that is knowing what makes you tick, and knowing what refreshes you. Honestly, I can simply take a shower or go for a 5-minute walk away from my desk and suddenly the floodgates are reopened. Sitting stagnant in an uninspiring setting is like trying to swim through molasses. You’re not getting anywhere. I guarantee you’ll return with a new twist that not only is stronger than your original idea, but one that also better resonates with your audience than the one you were originally trying to force.
This kind of relates to #3 and #4 but is also here to give you peace of mind. I think part of being entrepreneurial-minded is having your brain spin a million miles a minute, and that’s just a fact. In knowing that about yourself, it’s important to slow things down and not swing at every pitch. Are you intentionally and strategically laying out a plan + system, or are you flying by the seat of your pants? Winging it creates stress and anxiety because it’s unknown. Your results might not always immediately match your efforts but hey, “a dream without a plan is just a wish”, remember?
Maybe you exclaimed an enthusiastic, “Duh!”, right away – (kudos to you.) Or maybe you looked over your account with a string of subpar content and cringingly personal posts and felt a disappointing, “Uhhh, maybe not.” That’s A-ok! Just be honest with yourself. It’s the only way to grow. There are plenty of ways to create beautiful content without spending major mula when you’re first starting out. Quality images are not only visually attractive, they’re powerful keys to giving you respect and authority in your industry. Read more about the importance of brand photography here. Invest in yourself & your brand if you want others to invest in you, too.
Hey, that’s a line for myself, too. Evading comparison will not only keep you from being overly hard on yourself, crippling yourself with perfectionism, or becoming a carbon copy; but it will also make you more productive. Previously stated black holes of online content can take up an entire work day and give you nothing to show for it. Be intentional with carving out creative jam seshes and jot down some notes (like with a real pen and paper) of things you loved, felt truly inspired by, and want to implement STAT. Be excited about what others are doing and know it doesn’t take away from your own inherent goodness. Scroll wisely, friend!
It’s almost too cliché to say, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. Create. Do quality control. Get feedback. Assess. Reconfigure. Some of the best things really do take time – yes, even in our instantaneous culture. This also takes you back to your ‘why’ behind the what – knowing your why keeps your business efforts fun and fresh because you remain focused on the reason you chose to dive into this crazy start-up journey in the first place.
It’s so valuable to connect, collaborate, and learn from other entrepreneurs and thought leaders rather than swooning over their brands and wondering how they do it all. I once had this crazy idea – maybe I should just ASK. More often than not, people surprise you – in a good way. Ya know that feature in People Magazine called, “Stars, They’re Just Like Us”? Yup, it’s like kind of like that.
At the end of the day, marketing is about people helping people. Don’t be misled by the fact that most of it goes through the inhuman medium of a screen. You’d be surprised at how many small businesses say their primary clientele/customer base comes from word-of-mouth. That’s because a ‘brand’ is more than a logo, a tagline, or even the products/services you create. It is the heartbeat of those behind it, vibing with the ones they’re creating for.
Lastly, refuse to look at what you’re doing as sleazy self-promotion. If you’re providing a real, authentic value, service, or product then it’s most certainly not. It’s just good business. When you don’t see it as sales-y, others won’t either. Good copywriting helps with that, too. (Hey, girl, heyyy). If you’re providing a tailored benefit, your audience will truly want to learn more about what you’re offering.
A well-implemented (not just well-intentioned) brand strategy will eventually see the pay-off.
So if you’re going to hustle, hustle with heart.
I’ve recently had a few people ask me about my writing process and I’m feeling in the holiday spirit, so here it is for you to swipe! In addition to my writing process, I also wanted to show you some of my favorite writing, editing, and (free!) content creation tools...