During the last holiday season, I took advantage of some downtime to think about how I’m marketing my business. And something rose to my attention fairly quickly:
I have been focusing on what I thought I should do.
Simultaneously, I’ve been ignoring things that I want to do.
For instance, I’ve been focusing on doing formal launches to invite people into my membership, which I realize needs to happen but also find incredibly exhausting.
At the same time, I’ve been thinking for months about running some low-cost, one-off workshops on tightly-focused topics that my audience could take action on immediately. But I’ve been setting this idea aside because it isn’t on my marketing to-do list and therefore could not take priority.
As I noticed this, I also realized how it was making me feel. Doing a classic launch of my membership - something that I think of as needing to do because “this is the way” - just felt heavy.
But running a low-cost workshop sounded light and FUN!
At that moment, I realized exactly what I needed to do. I set aside the launch and focused on running a workshop.
And you know what? It WAS fun!
And here’s what I noticed:
In the world of marketing small businesses, there’s a tendency to do what we see others doing.
There are a variety of reasons for this including (but not limited to):
- Believing they are finding success, simply because we can see what they are putting out into the world
- Thinking: “It works for them so it will work for me.”
- Them saying to us: “Hey! This worked for me and therefore it will work for you.”
- The belief that we can both learn and find success when we follow in other people’s footsteps
Honestly, following someone else’s process and doing what everyone else does is easier than carving our own path, especially if we are not in the business of marketing but rather having to do it because we have a business that needs to be promoted.
However, all of these reasonings for following in other people’s footsteps have some flaws that I think we tend to ignore, including:
- We are looking at other people’s businesses from the outside. We only see what they let us see. So, do we truly know how well it is (or is not!) working for them?
- What do we even mean by ‘this works” and “success”? We all have unique goals, businesses, personalities, and audiences, so there is a “we are all different” element that we tend to ignore in favor of easy.
- Just because it worked for them does not mean it will work for us. In fact – since it worked for them, it might actually not work for us. We are different people, our businesses are different, and our customers are different. Someone else’s success with a particular strategy might even take the air out of it for us because it’s no longer cutting edge.
Now to be clear, I am not saying that we shouldn’t look at or even do what other people are doing. There is power in the collective of blogging and video and social media and showing up where everyone else is hanging out.
What I am saying is that instead of following in someone else’s footsteps and executing in the exact same way, we should use what other people are doing as a guideline or even a template rather than a step-by-step process.
That leaves us the room to show up authentically in our own messaging and do things in our own unique way.
So when you see something that is working for someone else, instead of trying to emulate it exactly, what if you ask: “Which aspects of this could I bring into my own marketing?”
Because here’s the thing…
When I set aside my membership launch so that I could run a small, low-cost workshop, my entire demeanor around my marketing changed. I was suddenly focused, driven, and excited! I spent days very happily getting the backend of the workshop set up, my content came to me more easily, and I woke up every morning looking forward to working on all of it.
And then the workshop was really well received (yay!) which means I’ll be doing more of them.
How we feel about our marketing impacts how we show up, and that impacts our success.
And so I’m curious: What are you doing in your marketing simply because you think you should, and what might you do instead if you loosened the reins up a bit and followed your gut?