Marketing should be fun, engaging and exciting.
If you think I’m nuts for suggesting such a thing, you’re probably doing it wrong.
Let me tell you a little story about a friend I’ll call Tim. Tim was a software developer who enjoyed chatting with people, but hated selling his business. He didn’t want to be that cheesy guy who you avoided because all he did was try to sell you his services. He steered clear of anything labeled “marketing” for fear of becoming that guy.
Tim had a superpower: he loved chatting people up. He also had a nemesis: that cheesy sales guy.
Little did he realize that he didn’t have to give in to the evil nemesis to market his business. All he had to do was make better use of his superpower.
When I first started talking to Tim, he laid out all of his current marketing strategies – the ones he hated doing because they made him feel like a bad guy. He was cold calling businesses, using his social media as a megaphone instead of a conversation starter, and going to conferences to meet potential new clients.
Tim was doing everything he was theoretically supposed to do, but he was also miserable for every minute of it. He was going over to the dark side and becoming that which he hated.
What’s worse, it wasn’t even working.
To get him off the depressing topic of his much-disliked marketing tactics, I asked Tim about his passions. Turned out Tim loved coffee, football, and non-fiction business books.
He talked about the smell of coffee and the anticipation of a good cup to get him moving. He talked about the tension in football and the unpredictability of each play. He talked about how a non-fiction book will almost always give him a new idea to apply to his business.
I then asked him why he liked to program. He said he loved working on something that was clean and worked well. He talked about his ability to program and oozed confidence in his programming skills.
That was where the magic was hidden.
We created a simple marketing plan around his superpowers.
- Find the places where he could help people
- Start a conversation
- Create events that generate buzz
Tim loved to talk about coffee. I asked him if he could help coffee shops and coffee producers with their websites – a skill well within his purview. He found a coffee conference that he will attend next month, and of course he won’t have the usual problem of only being able to talk about his own skills. Just try stopping Tim from jumping into a conversation about how to brew the perfect cup of coffee.
And by the time that conversation wends its way around to the inevitable question “What do you do?” Tim will have a great lead-in to sell his services. After all, the people he’s talking to will already know he’s passionate about their business and that he understands what they need.
I started Tim a Twitter account and told him to follow people he admired and people who interested him. He started following coffee people and non-fiction authors. He began to slowly engage them in conversations about their common interests, chatting about topics he really enjoyed and generating lots of goodwill.
Instead of using social media to promote himself, he’s just using it to make new friends. When he does promote his business, those friends will naturally want to give this great guy a hand spreading the word.
The last thing we talked about was creating interactive events. He needs to create a little buzz online that allows him to connect with new people and encourage his followers to think of him as the guy in charge. Tim is a little shy, but I think he will throw a Twitter party soon for the following reasons:
- He doesn’t need to be loud and boisterous to be in charge of an event. Tim can be himself – he just has to lead the conversation and encourage other people to get involved. Since he sometimes has trouble getting up the confidence to engage others, he can sympathize with shy people and bring them to the party.
- He wants to talk about the work that he loves. There are thousands upon thousands of people online who love the same things Tim loves – and everyone likes to talk about the things they love. Tim doesn’t have to twist anyone’s arm or convince them to do something they don’t like. He just has to let them know there’s someplace to talk about the things they enjoy.
- He wants to generate trust. It’s often difficult for people to trust someone they only recently met online. By showing how many other people trust him and value his opinion, Tim can generate trust that will extend out to lots of new people who might want to hire him.
Throw away the hate
Marketing should be fun. You have the ability to connect with people in a way that makes you feel good – it just means finding your superpowers and bringing them to bear on the marketing techniques you already know about (and don’t yet enjoy).
Think about it for just a moment: what type of marketing do you do now that you hate? And what aspects of your work and your life do you truly enjoy?
How can you combine the things you love with a hated marketing technique to create a new way of marketing you’ll actually enjoy?
Brainstorm in the comments – the Men with Pens crew would be happy to help you figure out new ways of approaching once-hated marketing.