Marketing has a bad rap. For the most part, it’s well-deserved. For too long we’ve let slick billboards and polished TV ads tell us what we supposedly need, instead of guiding us to know what we need for ourselves. We’ve put trust in carefully crafted messages of perfection that have been purposefully designed to make us feel inadequate.
But there’s a shift happening. Technology makes connecting with others easier than ever before. And with that, there’s a sea change in what people consider to be marketing. It’s no longer the Mad-Men-style, big-budget production it once was. It’s now personal. It’s now one-on-one.
That shift is creating real challenges. The old vanguard is trying to cling to this new way of reaching people by using the old marketing tactics of manipulation and fear in this deeply personal way.
But marketing doesn’t have to be like that. It can be something real, grounded, honest and true to yourself. It can be an act of bravery and vulnerability at the same time. It can be aligned with your morals and yet pushes your boundaries to something greater.
Peter and I teach a method we call Authentic Marketing. We use that adjective intentionally.
Here’s what we mean by Authentic Marketing.
1. Authentic Marketing is relationships.
Too many times entrepreneurs post one blog post and just wait for the clients to roll in. In reality, that’s only your first move. You have to build that relationship with people.
The best way to think of marketing is like dating. You wouldn’t expect a marriage proposal on the first date. You go on a second date, and then a third date, and you keep going if the feeling’s mutual. Building trust and relationships is key to Authentic Marketing. When you’re just getting to know someone, ask them questions and find out where their interests lie. Don’t hit them over the head with your sales pitch right off the bat. That’s the equivalent of telling your new date how great in bed you are, before even striking up a real conversation. Establish connections on a human basis, and be genuinely interested in their life. Then, if you see this person would really value what you have to offer, be confident enough to ask for that second date.
2. Authentic Marketing is being seen.
I know the inner gremlin voice too well. "Who are you to think you’re good enough? You mean you have something that someone else actually *wants*? So many others are way better than you, why should you even bother?” Some days I believe everything the gremlins tell me. But the simple practice of being seen in the world — sitting down to write an email, posting to social media, networking, even asking someone on that second date — reminds me of my real value, and the joy of connecting with others. I cannot let that true value shine if I keep playing hide-and-seek with the people who are actively searching for what I have to offer. I serve no one if I play small.
3. Authentic Marketing is a spiritual practice.
For me, doing routine marketing tasks for my business is one of the many spiritual practices that guide me to my own worth. On the days when the gremlins take over my mind, I can turn to a simple ritual of Authentic Marketing — posting a tweet, going to a meetup, sharing my expertise, connecting with people. Treating marketing as a regular ritual, like meditation or yoga, helps me break through my own blockades even when I don’t feel so confident. The confidence eventually comes back, louder and stronger than the gremlins.
4. Authentic Marketing is vulnerability.
Being honest and true to yourself makes you stand out in a world full of slick sales predators. People now trust authenticity and vulnerability more than a million-dollar ad campaign. And tools have made it possible for anyone to connect on a personal, intimate basis — to tell stories, engage, inform, and reveal parts of you that you never thought you’d share. Your vulnerability is what makes you memorable. That is what connects you to others. Own it.
5. Authentic Marketing is being you, but louder.
Being yourself is at the core of authenticity. But Authentic Marketing requires stretching your boundaries and declaring your value out loud. Yes, you can be authentically you lying in your pajamas, snuggled up in bed all day, binge-watching Netflix. But Authentic Marketing is being brave enough to tell someone you are worth their time, your service is worth the price tag, you will provide their lives with immense value, and as a bonus, they have a partner to gossip about the new season of Gilmore Girls.
6. Authentic Marketing is being useful.
What are your ideal clients struggling with? Which of those issues are you most excited about helping? Start there. Answer questions that already exist. Search for questions in forums, questions you definitely know the answer to. Find questions in the queries you already get when people find out what you do. See where there is need and an opportunity for connection. Then publicly make your knowledge known, in every place where that knowledge is needed. Be useful. This is how people get to know you as an expert in your field.
7. Authentic Marketing requires a steady, loving presence.
Yes, be helpful. Answer questions. Be loving. And keep doing it. Again. And again. Not everyone sees everything you post. Not everyone buys your services right away. You have to reach out to them again, and again, and again some more. It’s likely you’ll have to do ten times the marketing you originally thought. It’s OK. You got this. And you got their backs, too. This is what love does. Keep going.
8. Authentic Marketing takes care of the self.
Love also has a high respect of self. You cannot give on an empty tank. You cannot give all your services away for free while you scramble to make ends meet. Love means taking care of your own healthy boundaries and finding your balance. It means being mindful and caring about your own success, and a good practice of mindfulness is measuring which Authentic Marketing methods work, so you can do more of it.
It also means knowing when to breathe. Peter gave a great example in our Visionaries’ Council call about how he envisions spending his time. He wants to live a life where a third of his time is on business, a third of his time is on relationships, and a third of his time is on himself. Working backwards from that vision, he budgets a certain number of hours on client work, then a certain number of hours working on the business itself. The rest of his time he spends marketing. That’s a great place to start.
Does any of this resonate with you? Do you see how Authentic Marketing can guide your own business journey?
If you want to find out more about our methods, we’ve put together this Authentic Marketing Starter Kit. We’ve packed some great information to help visionary entrepreneurs incorporate Authentic Marketing into their lives and businesses.
The Starter Kit includes:
A one-hour audio teleconference call with our best strategies for attracting clients through vulnerability and education,
A 14-page Authentic Marketing strategy with a menu of over 30 different marketing methods to choose from,
A Simple Marketing Plan worksheet for you to get clear on your marketing methods.
When you sign up, you will also be added to our mailing list with advice, inspiration, and cutting-edge tools to help you give birth to your business.