“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
It’s so easy to get sucked into the latest internet marketing trends hoping that your business will suddenly take off. The internet is full of tips, lists, case studies, and how-to guides and while most of this content is extremely helpful (You can check out our resources here), just following everyone else’s path doesn’t always mean you’ll succeed as well. The key to creating remarkable marketing is learning how to connect with your audience in an authentic way. Then you must deliver a powerful solution that solves their challenges and adds value to their lives.
Earlier this year, as I was in the early stages of transitioning my agency’s focus to inbound marketing, I found myself a little overwhelmed with how I was going to position myself in the market. After all, the internet marketing world is extremely competitive and finding my place among the rest wasn’t going to be easy. Now, I am a big believer in looking at what successful people in your industry have done and learning from their experiences. The key is learning how to apply what you’ve learned from others to your business and use that knowledge to create authentic marketing. The consumer is smart and when they sense something seems disingenuous, they bolt and never come back. One of the guys I reached out to early taught me a very powerful lesson. You have to market yourself first, not your product or service. People have to buy in to you before they’ll buy what you’re selling.
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Passion is Powerful
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style”. – Maya Angelou
Do you believe in what you’re doing? Like, really believe in it. As marketers and storytellers our job is to share an authentic message that connects to our buyers in a compelling and engaging way. If we don’t believe in what we are selling or marketing, then it’s going to be awfully hard to do it with much authenticity. Once you have defined your audience and have a product worth telling them about, you have to create a message that excites you. You can’t expect your audience to be excited about or engage with a message you hate telling yourself.
Being Relevant, the Right Way
“Our job is to connect to people, to interact with them in a way that leaves them better than we found them, more able to get where they’d like to go.” ~ Seth Godin
The word relevant is thrown around quite often, but in many ways I think it’s misunderstood. Relevant doesn’t mean trendy nor does it mean appealing to the masses. Being relevant is about connecting your message to your buyer in a way that is familiar with them so that they can embrace it easier. Some businesses and organizations believe that in order to be “relevant” they must have paid ads, or they must tweet X amount of times a day or they water down their story to be for everyone and it ends up being for no one. Before doing anything, the question you should be asking is, does this help connect our story with our buyer? If not, it’s not relevant.
Practical Next Steps
So far much of this post has covered some abstract concepts about marketing. My hope is that you are starting to think a little deeper about your business and how you are sharing your message. While thinking different is good, without action it’s pretty pointless.
1. Define Your Buyer Personas:
Determining who you are trying to market and sell to must be your first step. While it would be nice if our product or service was for everyone, that’s simply not the case. Defining your buyer personas will not only help you craft your product’s marketing message, but also give you important insight on how to market yourself to your buyers.
2. Think BIG, Start Small:
Planning and goal setting helps give you direction for the future and a plan of action for the present. But often times I think we get too practical in our goal setting. When setting your goals, think big! Go after something that inspires you. I think the reason many of us lack passion in our work is that we aren’t striving for our best. Here’s a simple way to create big goals that you can actually accomplish.
- Be Specific about what you really want
- Make sure that each goal can be measured
- All goals need to be realistic and attainable
- Your goals need to be relevant to your business and audience
- Set timelines to meet various parts of your goal.
3. Think Inside the Box
Too many people spend too much time “thinking outside the box.”(What does that even mean?) One of the best lessons I learned in art school was to embrace my limitations. I had to realize that I was never going to be as good as Picasso, so I stopped trying to be. When it comes to marketing a business online, burnout is the number one reason people fail. You don’t have to do it all, just do something. Blog as much as you can. Be as active on social media as much as you can. Whatever you do, just be consistent. Consistency goes a long way in building an authentic marketing strategy. Embrace your limitations, do your best with what you have and as you get better and streamline your process, slowly add more.
Our culture is great at pulling us toward conformity. Great businesses and organizations are great at swimming upstream. Don’t lose your greatest strength, yourself! Be yourself and use your uniqueness to make a difference.