A struggle I hear about a lot from mission-driven business owners, women in particular, is that they dread “putting themselves out there” to market their services, whether it’s teaching, consulting, healing, or coaching.
“I know deep down I’m good at what I do, but I just don’t want to have to sell anything, or even draw attention to myself. I want people to just come naturally to me because they’ve heard I’m really good.”
Sound familiar? You are not alone.
Think about this:
Perhaps you have cultivated a talent or gift over many years. You are likely quite good at it. Over time it has become more and more clear that you are meant to do this work, it just feels right. You have a vision of positively impacting others with your gifts and for creating a joyful and sustainable life and livelihood for yourself.
This vision we hold is important. In fact, it’s sacred, and because of that, it feels like a big risk to expose this vision to the world. We risk that people won’t see our gifts as valuable or that they won’t understand us, and we risk failing at our biggest, boldest vision. What if it totally flops? We don’t even want to think about it.
So of course it feels edgy to put yourself out there. Here’s the thing… feeling scared in this case is actually a good sign because it probably means you’re on the verge of offering something really important to the world.
(I mean, think about how little you cared about that presentation you made at the old job you hated compared to the launch of your new gift-honoring business!)
We were put on earth to give our unique gifts to the world.
And while it can be scary, it’s the most important thing we’ll do in our lifetimes. By not putting our gifts out to the world, we are actually depriving ourselves of the opportunity to fully express ourselves, and we’re depriving others of a gift that could help them in unimaginable ways. We cultivate these gifts SO that we can offer them… the world needs your gift, and you need to give it in order to fulfill your purpose.
OK, we’ve established that it’s a big deal.
So then how do we shift “marketing dread” into authentic longing and excitement to offer our services to those who need them?
Marketing dread stems from two things, one of them technical and one of them an issue of perspective.
First, the technical side:
Lack of Clarity
What I have found is that business owners often have a lack of clarity around:
- Their unique gift,
- Their specific service offering,
- The result they provide,
- Their target audience, and,
- A simple and compelling way to communicate all of this to their people.
Much of the discomfort and anxiety about networking and marketing comes from not being able to clearly state your offering.
But when all of these pieces are crystal clear, it makes it a lot easier to talk about what you do with people, confidence builds, and the dread dissipates. Imagine you could walk up to someone and say:
I help X kind of specific person to achieve Y specific result through Z unique offering.
And feel totally at ease and natural saying it.
We’ll dig more into the “elevator pitch” in another blog post, but for now, know that you must go through a process of clarifying the answers to these questions and developing a succinct and authentic (true to you) way of communicating them. You can start simply by working through the bullet points above.
And remember, once all the above information is clear, you can craft a simple, targeted and effective marketing campaign that focuses on one or two main marketing strategies that you LIKE and that work best for your business (no more running around working on 10 different marketing tactics and trying to post to 5 different social media channels!).
Going from Selling to Sharing
The second important piece here is a perspective shift.
Your job is not to run around and chase down any old person to try and convince them to buy what you’re selling. If you are doing this, something has gone horribly awry. If you feel like you’re doing this, even when you’re not, then it’s time to re-evaluate your perspective.
When your business offering and audience are clear and aligned with your purpose, your service becomes an offering – or a sharing – of your gifts to the people who might be served by them.
Not a selling, a convincing, a wrangling or anything else that feels constricting, uncomfortable, manipulative or distasteful.
Imagine instead that you’re just tossing that gift out there… poof! And the right people, the people you are speaking to, will see your sparkling beautiful gift, and say, “why yes, of course!”
The rest of them won’t, and that’s ok. Actually, that’s the point:
Weed out the wrong people by getting really clear on who the right people are, and speak to them directly.
Remember, in the Natural Business Cycle, the Blossom and Pollination stages are all about showing off your unique flowers so that your right pollinator can come and find you.
Do You Need Confidence or Do You Need Courage?
Confidence grows over time as we experience others being impacted positively by our work. Of course, we may always doubt ourselves even after churning out impactful work for 20 years (old limiting beliefs die hard). A lack of confidence, again in particular for women, is a very common experience, and one that we can work with.
So try this instead: Assume no confidence. And assume you have to do it anyways. Instead of trying to “boost your confidence,” try tapping into courage and simply doing it anyways, whether or not you’re great at it or whether or not you feel totally “ready.”
When you lack Confidence, call on Courage.
And, Don’t Forget…
People Don’t Somehow Magically Know What You Do!
Remember… while it’s true that the more good work you do, the more people will refer others to you – I’ve based most of my business on that truth – you still have to tell people what the heck you’re doing to begin with!
People don’t magically know what you do and for whom you do it.
You have to make them aware of it. Specifically. That’s the definition of marketing according to Merriam Webster (really!). Making people aware.
If people know exactly what you do, and it’s simple and specific, they are much more likely to refer people to you (“Oh, you HAVE to talk to Julie, she helps people like you grow their mission-driven businesses”).
Plus, when you tell people your vision clearly, over and over, whether it’s through personal phone calls, at networking events, through your email list, or on a webinar with 1000 people, you are not only serving the practical purpose of spreading the word about your work, you generate big energy for your business.
Speaking your clear vision over and over lets the Universe know that you’re ready for business.
So take a deep breath, toss it out there, and step back and watch the goodness flow back towards you.
(PS - 7/72015: Watch this episode of Marie TV where she talks about taking the "shame" out of self-promotion... perfectly aligned with this post).