Tough Love: The Business You’re Really In

“Everybody want to be famous, nobody want to put the work in.”  ~comedian Kevin Hart & friends

 

I love this little video clip, firstly, because I’m a huge Kevin Hart fan. But I also love it because its message can be applied to what many of us are spending so much time online trying to do: create a successful business that will support us financially, and fulfill us creatively.

Yep, everybody want to have a successful business, nobody want to put the work in.

Of course it’s not true that nobody wants to put the work in, because plenty of people have created successful businesses that provide creative fulfillment and a comfortable living. We follow many of these people online, do we not? So we know it can be done.

But when it comes to creating the same thing for ourselves, as creatives we’re often too willing to give up too soon, whine about how challenging the whole thing is, or complain about having to . . . gasp . . . market ourselves. (Fact: I originally titled this blog post “Get Schooled on Marketing or Stay Broke.”)

And it’s the “marketing ourselves” bit that I hear the most complaints about from fellow creatives.

A few short years ago I was in that camp, until I realized I had two choices: either hire someone to do my marketing for me (not possible at the time, and not ideal even if it had been financially viable), or suck it up and do it myself, without complaint or self-consciousness.

Now, as someone who has worked in PR, advertising, and marketing and sales for most of my adult life, you’d think I’d be fine with marketing myself. But you would be wrong. Naturally, it’s much easier, and way less uncomfortable, to sing the praises of others through persuasive marketing communications than it is to step from behind the safety of my laptop and do the same thing for myself.

But it wasn’t until I finally decided to stop window-shopping having a business and actually do the challenging and time-consuming work involved in getting some traction for it (which I wrote about at length here), that everything started to change: more resonance with my ideal audience, more email sign-ups, more inquiries about my services, & more clients.

And then one day as things were starting to improve, I read something on A-list copywriter and brilliant marketer Dan Kennedy’s website that drove home this lesson like a shot to the face, wherein he talks about the “one truth businesses don’t like to hear.”

And that truth is this:

The business you are really in is the business of marketing and the thing you do, for example a dentist, a realtor, and info-marketer, etc., is secondary.

Kennedy goes on to say that being a better doctor, lawyer, carpet cleaner, or maker of stuff will not make you wealthier, but marketing your business better will.

I know many of us are squeamish about this prospect, and I get it, but we simply must get over that if we want to get off the feast-or-famine roller coaster, for one, and stop taking on projects and clients that make us want to drive off a cliff, for another.  And paying the rent and eating 3 squares a day is pretty important too, I might add.

So if you’re dreaming of that day when you’ll be able hire someone to do all your marketing for you so you can decamp to your creative cave and simply make stuff, then you’re going to have to find a way afford that marketing help first.

And that means you have to get good at marketing your business yourself NOW. So find a way to like it, or at the very least, find one way to market your business that you absolutely will do and that you don’t hate, and keep at it until you either see some success from that method or you determine it just ain’t working, in which case you try the next marketing method.  And so on until you find the one that you’re willing to do that does work.

P.S. – Just as I was about to hit “publish” on this post, I read something great over on Itty Biz, one of my favorite go-to places for biz and marketing advice that feels like the perfect companion piece to this one, called 10 Perfectly Good Ways to Market Your Business, and What to Do If You Don’t Like Any Of Them.

You should check that out.

Your One Line Marketing Message: A Surefire Way to Talk About What You Do Without Sounding Like a Tool

One line marketing message

Would you like to hear about something I did a few months ago that saved me untold hours of networking agony and helped me clearly state what I do to potential clients without sounding like a complete tool?

I thought you might.

See, here’s what was happening.

When I first starting going to networking events a few years ago, it was uphill sledding.  I remember well how painful it was when people would ask me what I did. I fumbled, I hemmed and hawed, I felt wildly uncomfortable.

If you’ve gone to as many networking events I have, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

It wasn’t a matter of not having something of value to offer, it was more a function of being comfortable “selling” myself in a way that seemed authentic and conversational, in a straightforward, non-douchy way that potential clients could relate to.

That’s the part I had a hard time getting right.  Either I was waaaaay too wordy, my new contacts checking out half a paragraph into my spiel, eyes glazed over, planning their escape to a more interesting conversationalist, or I couldn’t get to the nut of what I did quickly enough, which I noticed made people very thirsty, as they couldn’t get to the bar fast enough.

I exaggerate slightly, but that’s what it felt like.

Then I thought, if I could just come up with a one-line marketing message, a succinct core message that describes what I do in a nutshell,  one I could easily change up based on the venue and circumstances of the conversation, I’d be set.

And that’s when I remembered something I came across from Brendon Burchard a few months ago (Google him – he’s the guy who teaches you how to get paid for your advice and expertise.  You’ll find free resources at his site to get you started).

It called a “Create Anything Framework.” It’s a concise 4 part framework for describing what you do, and here’s how it works:

Intro + I Help [your audience] Do [topic/message] so that [benefit to your audience].

I’ll give you an example using myself:

My name is Kimberly Houston, and I help creative small businesses create a persuasive online presence with targeted web copy, content creation and strategy, and social media marketing so they can get their message out into the world and get more clients, customers and sales.

It might take some playing around with this a bit to get your marketing message just like you like it (I tweak mine often), but it’s a great exercise, both for honing in on what you offer and who you serve, and for getting clear on the value your products and/or services provide.

Once you get that one sentence down, it’ll come in handy not only at live networking events, but anywhere else you want network your business.

You can expand on it for your website’s “Work with Me” page, use it to guide your newsletter content or social media updates, or even as the starting point for a sales page highlighting your product or service offerings.

I highly recommend you set aside some time to do this powerful little exercise yourself, then start using the crystal clear marketing message that results at your next networking opportunity.  And beyond.

Let me know how you do.  : )

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