Finding Your Marketing Voice
Lately I’m learning that the tried-and-true methods people preach about and sell just aren’t right for me. In fact, the idea of “pitching” leaves me feeling as slimy as spending an hour with a used car salesman. Despite arguments, admonitions, and prophecies of doom from fellow freelancers, I knew in my heart I needed to find something which made me feel good about myself before I’d attract the sort of clients who were truly as ideal for me as I was for them.
A couple of months ago, I was approached by a member of one of the groups I follow by the name of Ben Depraz. Ben is a coach who works with high achievers and corporations, but he offered me an amazing opportunity; 90 minutes of his time to discuss my fears. I don’t know why he chose me, but I do know that the experience has, over time giving me exactly what I was searching for.
After our session, Ben recommended 3 books: “Talk Like Ted” by Carmine Gallo, “Getting Naked” by Patrick Lencioni, and “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert. I’ve been reading “Talk Like Ted” over the last couple of weeks and taking much of what I’m learning into account both in my Facebook Lives and my writing.
The Ultimate Aha Moment
Yesterday, I gave myself permission to relax and just catch up on my reading. Something told me it was time to pick up “Getting Naked”, and if it’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s to trust my intuition. This time, it was spot on.
I blew through the book in a couple of hours, and when I was done, I knew I’d hit on exactly what I’d been trying to express with my limited experience in generating work pipelines or sales funnels or whatever you choose to call it. My aversion to selling wasn’t a bad thing at all! In fact, according to Mr. Lencioni, it could actually be turned to my advantage.
Focus on Adding Value Instead of Selling
The ultimate premise is that you don’t talk to people with the intention of selling to them, but with answering the underlying question, What can I do to help you thrive? This has been my unspoken purpose all along, yet I had no idea how to turn it into a business model. Yet, there it was in black and white. “Consult, don’t sell”. Bingo! This is the premise behind Mr. Lencioni’s first fear, “Fear of losing the business”.
So many people out there are advising against doing free consultations or discovery calls. And yet, I feel these are essential in order to attract the kind of people I truly want to work with. In fact, my last 20-minute consultation call lasted for 2 hours! And I felt honored to have been given that much time to learn about someone else’s hopes, dreams, and visions for the business they are so passionate about.
The truth is, what I do, whether it’s writing or accounting depends on a client’s trust that I will not only give them my best effort, but protect what is theirs. 15 or 20 minutes is barely enough time to scratch the surface of what they aspire to, much less develop enough trust for them to delegate part of what they’ve worked so hard to create.
Embracing the Fear
Two other fears addressed in the book, “Fear of being embarrassed” and “Fear of feeling inferior” gave me a lot to think about. But in the end, I realized that in my own way, I’d already embraced these fears and was actually comfortable with them. I love learning about someone else’s business; why they started it, what makes them light up with passion, their visions for the future. I’m rarely afraid to ask seemingly stupid question to learn more about the product or service they provide. And I don’t have a driving need to feel like I’m the authority on everything. In fact, I love learning something new, and how better to do that than by talking to someone who has an innovative approach to an old problem?
Be True to Your Own Values
When all is said and done, the people who have started with an idea and made their own way; Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, all ignored what everyone else was doing and did it their way (a tip of the quill to Frank Sinatra). And if you haven’t either seen the movie or read the book “Hidden Figures”, put it on your list now!
It’s easy to listen to other people and buy into their tried-and-true methods. As long as you follow their formula to the T, you’ll get to where they are, right? But what if you don’t want to be where they are? If your dream isn’t to write for HuffPo or launch a bunch of how-to courses on your website? What if, like me, you’d rather inspire others to dream their dreams and live their passions? The tried-and-true is just not designed for innovation. It’s a template with little room to embrace and celebrate the uniqueness of what you truly have to offer.
Being Brave Enough to Take the Road Less Traveled
I’ve always been somewhat of a rebel, which is why my lengthy corporate career wasn’t exactly noteworthy. Fitting into a cubicle always made me feel uncomfortable and claustrophobic. I need space to move. I need flexible time. And I need the company of my cats instead of people most of the time. In fact, my biggest dream is to have a large piece of property overlooking the ocean where my nearest neighbor is miles away; a place where I can build a couple of cottages away from the main house for artists and writers who also need time away from people to create. The greatest gift I’ve given myself in recent years is an environment where I work alone and have no commute.
I won’t lie to you. The path I’ve chosen has been fraught with perils from procrastination to lack of inspiration. And it has not been paved with gold as the proponents of pitching endlessly claim to have found. Instead, it’s paved with opportunities; to talk to people who truly love what they do, to meet people like me whose primary goal is to help others and make the world a better place for all. It’s open season on learning whatever I want to learn. I’ve even traveled down a few paths which turned into dead ends for me, often because there was a strong sales element to them.
If you are brave enough to travel the scruffier path, you get to learn who you really are, what lights you up, what incites your passion, and where your true path leads. You allow yourself to experience fear and move past it. You allow yourself to be vulnerable, and gain insight from it. You allow yourself to dream, and from those dreams, inspire others to dream as well.
Whether you ascribe to the tried-and-true methods, or find you need a more innovative approach, I believe true success comes in listening to your intuition and being authentic to yourself. I think a quote attributed to Dr. Seuss said it best: “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.”
In business speak, this means that a client who doesn’t resonate with your authenticity is not a good fit for you as a client and vice versa.
Are you brave enough to be authentic instead of just a clone of others?
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