“Always be testing,” they say. It’s a common mantra that I’ve heard over the many years of running my business, especially with regards to marketing.
I thought I understood and did that. I always ran beta versions of my programs. I’d try a few different things here and there, but I never truly “got” the idea of testing until this past year.
I went into last year’s holiday season exhausted and frustrated. I was doing all the things I thought I was “supposed” to do and spent too much energy getting mediocre results. I mean… things worked out ok. But they weren’t working as well as I wanted them to. I found a lot of things heavy and difficult, and they made me anxious. You wouldn’t think so, since I’m “in the marketing business,” but not everything fits everyone.
While I was determined to keep chipping away at it, I also wondered if there was a better way.
Not a better way, in general. I’m sure that what I was doing would work eventually and that it inherently worked as a process. But I wondered if maybe there was a better way for me to promote my offerings.
Was there some way of marketing and selling that was more enjoyable and not so heavy?
So I thought about it a lot last year around the holidays. And I remember the breakthrough so vividly. It was between Christmas and New Years, and I was coloring in my new adult coloring books, and just sitting in these questions:
What else could this look like?
What do I want to do?
What do I enjoy doing?
It felt like a meditation and it was in those questions and that quiet time that I found my answers. I already run monthly workshops within my membership and I really enjoy them. They’re easier for me. They are light and even fun! What if I opened them up to the public?
I decided to do just that: Open up my membership workshops to the public and focus on content I was interested in talking about. I enjoy those kinds of programs because it’s an opportunity to interact with my attendees. We get to focus on what they struggle with, and to help them find their answers.
So last year, I offered one membership workshop to the public every month, in January, February, and March… and that’s when I truly learned what it meant to test things.
Every time I opened a workshop, I felt like I was jumping off a cliff and then building my plane on the way down. I'm always honest with you so I'll tell you this: Sometimes that plane crashed. But more often, it flew! Because I was in test mode, I was never devestated by the crashes. They were just data. And when the plane flew, I was elated!
Running these tests taught me a lot about my business, including:
…that I prefer to run workshops rather than webinars. In workshops, we get to dig deep into a particular topic and the attendees get to interact with me and each other. It enhances learning and we all feel charged up when we’re done.
…that running small workshops back to back across a few months allowed me to play. I tried different types of content and presentation styles. It made things fun!
More importantly, here’s what I learned about testing:
- This approach brought a feeling of lightness and energy to the experience and an element of fun to the process. Instead of thinking, “This has to work,” I found myself asking: “Let’s see how this works.”
- Leaning heavily into testing my ideas reduced my anxiety. “This is just a test” has become a way of thinking about things, which enables me to take bigger risks.
- It fast-tracked the development of programs that I wasn’t even thinking about the year before!
In the end, testing my ideas allowed me to learn what my audience really wants and develop programs that they actually need.
It’s because I ran this series of tests that I developed my month-long program, Get it Done, which I ran twice. I’d been thinking about it for years but had never made room for it. That program went so well that I’ll be running it again this coming year.
I’m also going to continue to do some more one-off workshops. I have some great ideas in mind and I can’t wait to put them in motion.
Here’s the takeaway I really want to share with you:
There is no one way to market your business. Testing can help you figure out what works best for you.
If there’s some piece of it that feels uncomfortable or heavy, you absolutely have the option to try something else! Run it as a test, hold it lightly, and say to yourself: “Let’s see how this works.”