IN THIS EPISODE I COVER:
- Why I believe in staying small
- Shining bright like a lighthouse
- The three C’s you need
LINKS + RESOURCES I MENTION:
READ THE EPISODE HERE:
In this episode I’m going to flip the script on what we know about marketing and make it relevant to small creative businesses, take inspiration from “marketing” experts who shape my thinking and talk about why it’s so great for businesses to stay small, shine bright and have an impact on their world.
Just before we start, I wanted to let you know that I’m offering two-hour highly focused coaching sessions via Skype (or in person depending on where you are). This one-off deep dive into your business is called FOCUS and we’re going to explore your project or idea in more detail. We can also use the session to go deeper into an area I can help you with, like marketing or selling or content or adding in a new revenue streams. You can find out more and click to book over on ruth hoskins.com
I’m so excited to talk about this today because I’ve worked in what was known as “content marketing” for what feels like forever and I have got to admit, I could never understand why people got in the habit of complicating what I think is essentially a simple, human connection and transaction.
I studied a post-grad in marketing in my 20s and I felt like the only person in the class who didn’t really get the complicated charts and Venn diagrams. It almost felt more like a science than anything creative and at that point the word marketing lost all clarity and purpose for me. Where was the human element? Why didn’t this feel good? What was I doing there?
After that, things like sales funnels and pushy “this is me” marketing took it even further away from it’s ultimate nucleus, people making an impact and sharing their gift with the world.
So, years down the line, when I discovered people like Seth Godin and Marie Forleo I was literally like doing a happy dance, because finally people were talking in common sense terms about marketing a business. These two people weren’t “icky”. They spoke in human language and most of all, the buyer was at the heart of everything they were saying. This was marketing with meaning.
In my last business (a social media agency that evolved to a content marketing agency) I used content as a way of attracting the brands we wanted to work with and it worked, it felt good too. But the one thing missing was the one part of my soul that craved personal connection.
Whether that’s when I worked in a bar, sold Ben & Jerry’s ice cream as a student or the way I work with people today, I wanted to look people in the eyes, share experiences and make a connection. And you don’t always get that connection when there’s a big business behind the person you’re working with.
Then I listen to Paul Jarvis talk about his book Company of One and it really resonated. We don’t need BIG! Imagine if we all focused on making our businesses better rather than bigger and prioritised a rich life over more traditional “success”? I love this concept. The world has enough BIG! As humans, have we had enough of MASS and crave MICRO connections that have meaning. So here are some ways I think we can approach marketing in a way that feels really good, has synergy with us on a human level and shines brightly so our dream clients find their way to us.
1. Believe in small
Seth Godin says this in his new book, This Is Marketing. “We need the smallest viable audience…if you want to reach everyone you’ve denied the person their humanity.”
It’s amazing what thinking on this micro level can have. Often when I talk to clients about their dream clients, I can tell by the look on their face that they just get overwhelmed.
But instead, what if we followed this old but amazing blog post Seth wrote, First Ten. what if we just focused on finding ten people to share our work with. We all know ten people, right? And if those ten people love it, they will each share it. And there you have bridged the gap from zero clients to an infinite amount. I’m going to link to this post in the show notes over on ruthhoskins.com
So if you are in the process of building a business (and life) you love, remember it’s OK to think small, go find the ten people that you can share your work with and take joy from the fact that small can be powerful and profitable too.
2. Shine bright like a lighthouse
I saw this quote the other day in Instagram and loved it! It’s by the American author Anne Lamott and I just had to share it with you. “Lighthouses don’t go running all over the island looking for boats to save. They just stand there shining.”
This is really in line with my own approach to marketing, which is to focus on creating awesome things for my community to read/listen to. We don’t need to rush around pushing our way into our dream clients lives. If we can produce quality work that we’re proud of then we are going to shine and people will want to work with us.
What we put out there is everything, and it’s another area that it’s easy to get lost in. So, as service based business owners, we can focus on quality over quantity (coming back to the staying small thing) and put out there less, but more amazing, in terms of our brand, our service and the content we release to the world.
I’d like you to consider how you can make your business shine like a lighthouse. What can you do to improve what you put out there, how can you shine bright? Does that look like streamlining and focusing on a fewer things and making them great. How are you going to go about turning your light on? Could you be more visible, is your light switched onto full?
3. Crystal clear clarity on the impact you have
How obvious do you make it who your product or service is for? I love that true marketing solves problems, it changes people’s lives in some way and it creates impact. That really is the ultimate goal, so it makes sense that we need to have absolute clarity of who we are serving and what little thing we are doing to change their life. Then the act of “marketing” is to get that message out to people, to be able to say, “what if I could help you solve this problem”.
A little example that has come from the Marie Forleo’s B School is to write down these three things:
My service is for…….
I will serve people who want……
I promise I can help you achieve….
For me, my service is for people who want to bridge the gap between where they are now and where they want to be. I serve people who want to build a business and a life that they love, and that my promise is to help them to break down the barriers to achieving what they want to achieve.
When we have this clarity, this client centred approach to our business, we have a single and meaningful point to start to build content, connections and community, which is what I’m coming onto now.
4. The three Cs
These, for me, are the three pillars of my own “marketing” strategy and I’m going to break them down for you because I really think it’s a feel-good approach to marketing.
Community is all about giving. Serving your future clients, helping them to trust you, solving their problems without expecting anything else in return. Imagine how engaged people would be if we spent 80% of our time giving and only 20% selling. Helping others, sharing your own unique gift with them is a heart-centred way of building a business that your client love. This is also a route to feel-good selling, because if you’ve given a lot to your community you don’t feel as bad when you finally share a promotion or offer or new package you’re offering.
Connection & Content. Until you meet them in real life, the internet offers so much potential to reach your dream clients, and the channel to do that is through content.
Now I know that so many people struggle with getting into a content creation mindset but the good news is, anyone can learn the skill. And the other piece of good news is, you don’t have to write loads of long-form content (unless you want to!). You can pick one or two channels and focus on them. So, maybe you’re totally cool with the idea of being on video and talking to camera, but hit a wall writing a blog post. That’s fine, you can vlog or use stories.
Maybe, like me, you love the power of audio because it can be consumed on the go, or maybe you just want to write short but on-point emails and social posts. I promise you, anything goes!
If you want to check out episode 3 of this podcast: Creating Better, Faster, More Purposeful Content + Pro Writing Tips. I’m linking to that and everything else I referenced over in the show notes.
You could have the best, most amazing product or service in the world, but there’s no point if you don’t put your lights on and tell people about it. And you have to keep on, keeping on doing that. Because one thing I know is this: The difference in people who “make” it and those that don’t is that the people who achieve what they want, keep on showing up. They do the work required to bring their vision to life, they put their big girl pants on and make connections and they put themselves out there online.
5. Why I will never outsource my marketing
OK, as someone who has been the outsourcer on many an occasion, I’ve got to say this: Our marketing has to feel like us. Our messaging has to come from within. And I don’t think it matters if we don’t feel like we were born to write, as long as we being true to ourselves when we put ourselves out there.
So I will never outsource my marketing, content or social media to anyone else. Because my voice is my brand and I’m not willing to dilute that. The busier I get the more I realise I need to outsource some elements, the admin and diary management and collaboration requests to a VA, the finance to an accountant, but what I put out there online is always going to be me.
My advice to people (especially if your brand is just you) is learn the skills you need, invest the time, collaborate with people, but if you are going to outsource any part of your business, don’t outsource your marketing!
I used to see lots of people paying for cheap copywriters to create SEO fodder, but all that did is block up the internet with crap and make people feel like they were being spammed over. And that’s NOT a nice feeling! So I think here, be you over anything else. Progress towards being a skilled content creator or social media user.
To wrap up today’s episode, I really hope that you can believe in the power of one, of you, and that you can start to rethink marketing. That it can be a positive change you have on the people you serve, that you can make it really personal, and that you can start to find your First Ten. I’d just like to remind you that you can find more detail about my coaching programmes over on ruthhoskins.com