YOUR MICROPHONE DOESN'T WORK WITHOUT YOUR ANTENNA

I sat down to write you this blog back in June and...it's the last week in October. So first, hi! I hope you and your business are thriving.

Today, I want to share a little bit about why I shut it all down and, more importantly, the HUGE business shift I had because of it. This is especially relevant for any of my super busy CEOs and solopreneurs who, despite all your hustling, aren't seeing the traction you're looking for.

But first, some backstory:

When I started my business as a Brand + Marketing Strategist for entrepreneurs back in June 2015...

 I was a business owner with an agenda.

 
 


Like you, I saw a problem in my industry (a platform-obsessed approach to PR and marketing that was not-even-a-little-bit working) and launched my business as a solution (to arm CEOs and solopreneurs with psychology-based PR and marketing strategies based on what we know drives, inspires and connects humans).

Having identified the problem and created my own version of a solution, I turned all my energy into doing what I do best: marketing and promoting the shit out of it.

I led workshops, spoke at conferences, wrote regularly for The Muse. I spent hours on the phone with potential partners.

But by June, a full year later, I was exhausted and sick of my own voice. And, even more alarmingly, the narrative I was shouting from the rooftops wasn't making the impact I'd hoped.

So I decided to get quiet. 

Less talking, more listening.

I dove back into my client work and, with no distractions, realized something interesting: I was hearing their frustrations and struggles in a way I hadn't before.

When I attended events, I sat in the back and quietly listened, and found that conversation threads I hadn't been paying attention to were suddenly popping up everywhere.

When I read industry articles—which I was now reading slowly, and to the end—I started to see patterns emerge that I'd never connected before.

With some hindsight, I'd realized that in the process of building and promoting my business, I'd switched out my antenna for a microphone.

But once I got that antenna back up:

The people I wanted to help became so obvious. The next steps for my business became so obvious. The specific ways I could help those people and the platforms I needed to use to reach them were no longer a question because THEY WERE TELLING ME.

And, of course, my business took off (like 5-figure clients took off) because of it.

Which brings me to you.

Here's what I was reminded of this summer and want to remind you now: 

your microphone isn't as effective without your antenna.

You can book speaking gigs, write guest blogs, get interviewed by all the trades—but if you don't have your finger on the pulse of what's truly driving your community; if you're not hearing them—it's not going to lead to the sales or sign-ups you're looking for.

If you're feeling like you need a little help getting that antenna back up, here's what helped me:

  • Write down everything you're hearing. From clients, potential clients, in the news, at events. This sounds so obvious, but it wasn't until I started a specific "What People Are Telling Me" Google Doc that I started to truly absorb what I was hearing and see how I was (and, in some place, was not!) addressing the needs and concerns people were telling me.
     
  • Choose the quiet. The listening and hearing is the most important first step, but it's giving yourself space to let all those insights marinate that's where the magic happens. People often talk about the difficulty of making space for quiet time. My experience was that it was actively choosing quiet time that was hard—once I did, I knew exactly where and how to find it.
     
  • Be open to being "wrong." Yes, we stop listening when we get busy and distracted. But, #realtalk, we also stop listening because we're afraid we're going to hear something that goes totally against our narrative (which = total business failure in our heads). When I truly started listening—with no agenda or judgement—I discovered I was spot on in many ways, and definitely wrong in others. But understanding where I was missing the mark and rerouting those strategies has only helped me better connect with my community and bring in more business.

WHAT I (RE)LEARNED ABOUT MARKETING: A YEAR IN REVIEW

Last week, I hit my one year milestone as a business owner (which I only clocked because of the very kind messages I received on LinkedIn!).

Since then, I've been reflecting on the (many, many) things I've learned about building my business over this past year.

When I first set out to do this thing last June, there were several areas of business building that I knew I was going to have to get up to speed on pretty quickly, like: the financial part, and the technology part, and the part where you pick consistent fonts and colors and stick to them.

But as a Brand + Marketing Strategist with nearly a decade of experience leading PR and marketing strategies for multimillion dollar businesses and small business owners, branding and marketing wasn't one of them.

That is, of course, until the marketing strategy I'd meticulously put together for myself started to feel off, and I had to do to my own marketing what I spend so much time helping other businesses do to theirs: course correct.

Today I want to give you a glimpse into my own marketing strategy, and share the four super important marketing principles I (re)learned in my own marketing this year.

Something about talking about my own business made me want to have a more informal chat than a bulleted blog, so I'm switching things up and offering up my experiences and advice in this video.

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It's 20 minutes, so for you skimmers:

2:36: What I (re)learned about my ideal client, and how the process surprised me.
6:22: The more painful (re)learning of the bunch. Also the one that took my business to the next level—twice.
10:43: The closest you'll come to finding the "secret sauce" of marketing, plus my soapbox moment.
13:47: I explain my "focus framework" and how it's helped clarify and streamline my business.
15:43: The marketing strategy I'm still working on (right alongside you!).


As I promise in the video, here's an exercise to help you (finally!) identify the people you most want to help.

If you haven't done an exercise like this yet, I strongly encourage you to work through it over the next few days. I guarantee it's going to give you the clarity you're looking for.

If you have, print it out and revisit it in the next few months. As I talk about in the video, I was surprised at how quickly I'd evolved out of my first "person," and now do this exercise once every six months to make sure I'm continuing to position my business in front of the people I most want to help.

WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY VS. WHAT YOU THINK PEOPLE WANT TO HEAR

I recently read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic (have you read it? So good!) and I came across a section that really struck me that I want to share with you today.

She wrote: “Whenever anyone tells me that they want to write a book in order to help other people I always think 'Oh, please don't. Please don't try to help me.' I mean it's very kind of you to help people, but please don't make it your sole creative motive because we will feel the weight of your heavy intention, and it will put a strain upon our souls.” 

The writer in me deeply resonated with this.

 
 

But here’s what was interesting: The businesswoman in me did, too.

No matter what your business is about—interior design, life coaching, customized t-shirts—and no matter whether you’re selling services or you're selling products, your business is a creative endeavor.

Here's what I realized when I read this: Us marketing and PR people spend a TON of time talking about the importance of getting into the heads of your ideal clients and figuring out what they need from you.

We suggest writing client avatars and client archetypes. We suggest interviewing the closest people to those avatars and archetypes. We suggest surveying your community.

All of that work is important. You absolutely need to get to know the people you’re trying to help and temperature check with them along the way.

But in addition to asking them: How can I help you? What do you want me to share with you?

Here's what you also need to ask yourself: What do I want to say?

When it comes to bringing value to your community through blogs, articles, speeches and interviews—and raising the visibility of your business in the process —there's a fine line between being strategic and being dependent.

Being strategic is about making decisions based on both your expertise/know how and your community's opinions/feedback.

Being dependent is about being reliant on your community, at every turn, to tell you how to help them—which, like Elizabeth Gilbert said, your community will begin to feel the weight of.

So, next time you’re trying to figure out what to write in a guest blog, say in a speech or talk about during an upcoming podcast interview, see what happens when you source from you—the smart, creative human who dreamed up this business in the first place.

What is it that you want to say?

And then say it. (More on that next week!),

HOW DO I KNOW WHEN I'M READY TO START PITCHING?

A few weeks ago, I got an email from a woman who said: How do I know when I’m ready to start pitching myself for speaking gigs?

I get this question all the time.

Most people think that in order to begin promoting
themselves and their businesses, they need to have:

  • Their business totally figured out
  • Their website completely done
  • A ton of email subscribers and social media followers
  • Something tangible to promote (like a product, service or event)

After doing PR and marketing for both established companies and newly hatched brands for nearly 10 years, here's what I can tell you:

That's not how it works.

 
 

Businesses are constantly evolving. Websites are never "completely" done. What each of us considers to be "a ton of email subscribers and social media followers" varies.

If you want to pitch yourself for speaking gigs, guest blogs or podcast interviews, here are the two things you need instead:

  1. Something to say
  2. A desire to share it

When I started writing for The Daily Muse four years ago, I didn’t have a business, a website, social media followers or anything to promote.

But I did have an interesting philosophy: That PR and marketing shouldn’t be scary and overwhelming, and that the best PR and marketing actually comes from people and brands that approach it with more humanness and authenticity, and less jargony, "best practice" BS.

And I really, really wanted to share that message with entrepreneurs and small businesses who were struggling to promote their businesses because they felt so creeped out and overwhelmed with the whole process.

So I pitched The Daily Muse compelling, unique topics related to my philosophy—and it worked. 

Here’s what you have to remember: Event organizers, blog editors and podcast producers are looking for one thing more than anything else, and that's great content.

Does it help if you have 10,000 Facebook followers and a page full of testimonials? Of course it does.

But every single person you pitch is going to care more about what you can share with their community and less about your Facebook follower count. 

So, if you're waiting for the “right time” to start pitching yourself and your business for speakings gigs, guest blogs and podcast interviews?

That right time is right now.