Many of the tools and resources we have available today (Pinterest, Periscope, Tumblr, Twitter, etc.), as much as I love them, are black holes of content. They can suck the life out of us as much as they inspire us, and leave us 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 give you two words, it would be these. 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, 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.
Implement in-bound marketing tactics.
Okay, I know I promised no marketing jargon. In-bound is a fancy way of saying you basically make your customer come to you. Dream, right? It’s totally possible! By following #1, and creating effective content (blogs, social media posts, ebooks, infographics, videos, etc.) and keeping it in context (right place, right time) you’re practically rolling out the red carpet for your customer.
Create a cohesive “marketing mix” and show up in those spaces to the best of your ability.
As hinted at in #2, you want to be in as many places, as your target audience is, while still doing so with excellence. There’s a balance between broadening your efforts and spreading yourself thin – that’s the context sweet spot. If you can’t effectively manage 5 social media channels and a blog, figure out the top 2-3 mediums your audience is interacting with most and really go for those. This is practically served on a cake platter to you nowadays as so many channels are integrated with one another. There’s also plenty of software platforms (Hub Spot, HootSuite, Buffer) that help you manage all of this. You can also officially stop worrying about being where your customer isn’t hanging out anyway.
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 to know you and are you making efforts at relationship building in the process?
Walk away, refresh, return.
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.
Work smarter, not harder.
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, strategically laying out a plan and a 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.”
Ask yourself: Would I follow me?
Maybe you said, “Duh!” right away (kudos to you). Or maybe you looked over your accounts of sub-par content and cringingly personal posts and felt a disappointing, “No.” That’s ok! There are plenty of ways to create good-looking content without spending major mula when you’re first starting out. Quality and excellence are not only visually attractive, they are powerful keys to giving you respect and authority in your industry. Invest in you(/your brand) if you want others to invest in you.
Stop comparing. Seriously, stop.
This 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 real pen and paper) of things you loved, felt truly inspired by, and need to implement STAT. Be excited about what others are doing and know it doesn’t take away from your own inherent goodness. Wander wisely, people.
Communicate heart & grow with & through your brand/brand efforts.
It’s almost too cliché to say, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. Create. Do quality control. Get feedback. Assess. Reconfigure. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it but know 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’ll stay connected to the reason you chose to dive into this crazy start-up journey in the first place.
There is something inside of you that fear wants to contain. Don’t let it.” [Lisa Bevere]
This is part of why I started doing the “Healthful Vibes” featured posts. I wanted to connect and actually learn from other entrepreneurs and thought leaders rather than swooning over their brands and wondering how they do it all. I had this crazy idea… I will ASK. More often than not, I’m refreshingly surprised at how relatable they are. Ya know that feature in People Magazine called, “Stars, They’re Just Like Us”? Yea, it’s like that.
Remember, it’s all about people, by people, and for people.
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, don’t see what you’re doing as “self-promotion” (because if you’re providing authentic value, then it’s not). When you don’t see it as sales-y, others won’t either. If you’re providing a tailored benefit, they will truly want to learn and hear more about what you’re offering.
A well-implemented (not just well-intentioned) brand strategy will eventually see the pay-off.
If you’re going to hustle, hustle with heart.
[Note: For more marketing/media content like this, be sure to follow me over at @kvhcreativeco as I offer writing, editing, and strategic communications services for your brand/biz needs!]