For nearly 10 years, I led PR and marketing strategies for multimillion dollar businesses and newly hatched brands in the U.S. and U.K.
I drafted messaging documents, press releases, speeches and op-eds; I strategized and executed executive thought leadership platforms, product launches and more; I booked and conducted interviews with print and broadcast outlets around the world; I created press lists and email templates.
Until I picked my head up one day and realized that I genuinely had no idea what I was saying or doing.
I was writing jargon press releases with approved, corporate messaging that, when I was honest with myself, wasn't actually saying anything. I was using marketing tactics that, while being all the rage in the marketing world, were grossing out our clients and not bringing in new business.
And I started to see a big disconnect.
We, as consumers, want a human experience. We value business leaders who are real with us—who tell us stories we can relate to; share insights we can learn from; and inspire us to think differently.
We value brands we feel connected to. The ones whose ads make us laugh, emails make us (good) cry and blogs make us feel understood; who employ real life humans to reply to our questions and concerns with compassion and relevant information; who offer products and services that both help and delight us.
But as marketers of these businesses, there's still a huge emphasis on convincing people our brands and products are perfect and, therefore, the best and, therefore, worth buying.
AND that if we really want to see our businesses grow, the best way to promote and market them is to master the most trendy marketing platforms—email, blogging, social media—and use them as often as we can.
This approach to marketing goes against everything we know, intuitively, about how to connect with people.
More importantly: IT DOESN'T WORK.
I've worked with multimillion dollars companies all the way down to one-man-band startups, partnered with business leaders on both sides of the Atlantic and witnessed the trajectory of brands in personal development, finance, media, beauty, disaster preparedness, publishing, education, architecture and more.
Here's the thread that runs through the most successful ones:
They understand and truly know their audiences; they understand and truly know themselves; they understand and have a pretty good idea where they want to take their business—and they strategically market and promote themselves based on that understanding.
Now, I partner with small and medium-sized business owners to do just that.