I wasn’t always obsessed with learning about marketing. I started my career off wanting to inspire more healing and positive change in the world (which actually, hasn’t changed. I’ve just learned new strategies).
Now, I’ve worked with clients ranging from farmers and coaches to healers and musicians, and I’ve learned that what I thought would change the world—what I see as a revolutionary business or product—is often completely overlooked or undervalued by people. I know some amazing people who don’t have enough work to make their business sustainable. And, it’s actually very common that businesses struggle to get enough clients to stay in business.
For my clients, there was nothing wrong with their offering. No. But the way they offered it—that was the problem. It didn’t reach people, or it didn’t shift the people they did reach enough to get them to become a paying client.
Luckily, marketing is not hard to change (well, I won’t lie, sometimes you have to completely uproot a belief you hold, but it’s definitely worth it). Making that change is what I love to do with my clients.
To learn more, read this not-so-made-up conversation between a myself and a business owner…
(Business owner struggling to get enough clients) I don’t like marketing.
(Me) But why? Your business needs marketing!
Marketing is how your clients find out about you.
Marketing is the message around why your work is relevant, desirable, and impactful for your potential clients.
Marketing is how you get people from being vaguely aware of what you do to being educated & ready to pay you to work with you.
As a business owner, it’s in your interest to fall in love with marketing. I want you to learn to make your marketing just as fun and deeply-caring as whatever awesomeness your business is doing in the world.
Okay…maybe marketing is useful, even necessary for my business.
But why does thinking about marketing leave a bad taste in my mouth?
Look at the world. It’s falling apart. And who do you want to blame? Greed, capitalism, corporations, to name a few. And what did they use to make us like them and buy their products and services? Marketing.
Most marketing is associated with an “old story”. Many of us don’t subscribe to those belief systems anymore (especially people who are trying their best to be self-aware and working to create the change they want to see in the world).
The truth is, the “old story” is simply outdated. Luckily, it is starting to fall apart on its own (just look at retail). Becoming obsolete is a natural part of the evolution and growth cycle.
Given that history, it’s no wonder that the average person skeptical of anyone trying to sell them something. Marketing has gone sour.
Can you give me an example of the “old story” in marketing?
For example, disingenuous scarcity tactics (Buy now! Limited offer!) go against the natural law of abundance that our bones know is true. So, for some of us, marketing from a scarcity mindset is instantly off-putting. Even if the product being marketed is a worthwhile product, without aligning the marketing message with the customer’s perspective, it will repel even those potential customers that would benefit from the product.
Even “green” or “inclusive” initiatives such as “Loop”, the latest greenwashing marketing scheme from corporate America, are often only accessible for privileged white folks and make profit only for other privileged white folks, while exploiting the labor and land of indigenous people and people of color. That’s not very ethical or sustainable.
This isn’t a system shift, it’s a calculated move to make the current system stay relevant. Loop isn’t changing the world; these companies are lining the same deep, deep pockets and perpetuating the same racist, classist systems they were before they introduced reusable packaging.
But, if you look at their marketing without doing further research, you’d think they were savior for all our environmental woes. It’s this kind of behavior in marketing that makes us weary that all marketing is really just a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
I see why I was so skeptical.
Well, what is the “new story” you’re talking about?
And how can it help me and my marketing?
In the “new story”, ethics and resilience are central themes. You do good because it’s the right thing to do, not because it boosts your businesses perception in the public eye. It’s real work, it’s not surface level. The right people that you are trying to reach will respond, but you have to clue them in. When you start to weave the deeper meanings and benefits of what you do into your marketing, they will listen.
Part of the reason the “old story” is failing to capture people’s attention is because it lacks the care and consideration that everyone, and everything, deserves. People aren’t stupid, and they like to be treated well. They will respond to marketing that genuinely considers their perspective, worldview, hopes, and fears.
As a business owner, you can care about your potential clients by making the effort to understand them, and deliver a story to them that they will understand and resonate with.
How do I deliver a story my clients will resonate with?
Figure out what your clients are struggling with. Figure out a way to tell them a story that can meet their perspective, but also insert a new perspective. Keep in mind, they want to trust you. Give them a reason too. Establish how your business can help them.
Stories can help you reach your potential clients where they are at by validating where they are coming from. Stories can disrupt certain perspectives that may be preventing potential clients from realizing that they would benefit from working with you. Stories can inspire them to think differently about themselves, and what’s possible for their life.
Can you give me an example of the kind of story-focused marketing that you’re talking about?
You’re reading it. Also, check out other articles from my blog.