If a client so much as sneezes an idea in my direction, I €™ll have a fully fleshed out strategy in under an hour.
You know how all the productivity gurus describe €œbeing in flow €? That €™s kind of what happens. My brain starts overflowing with answers.
€œOh! You need to do X. You need to say Y on this specific page. You need to NOT do ABC. You need to hire Z. You need to be in XYZ channels, ignore ABC channels. You need €¦ €
Boom. Stick that brain dump in a deck, get it to the creative department, and let €™s get to work.
Some people are given the gift of a beautiful voice or an eye for design, but not me. I got a penchant for marketing strategy.
Any strategy really. Brand, social, content, you name the buzzword and I can get you a strategic plan for it. A damn good one, too. One that works — if you implement it.
Dun. Dun. Dun.
[That €™s dramatic mood music]
The second I need to market for my business, all my ideas turn to sh*t.
€œWhy You Don €™t Want to Be a Wantrepr — € ugh no, that €™s stupid.
Oooo maybe, €œHow To Build a Business That Fits Your Life. €
No. Bad. Try again.
€œ10 Reasons To €¦ € ASFDHISDLFASLDFJAHHHHHHHHHH I HATE EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!
All the skills that make me a great marketer are apparently reserved for clients. The part of my brain that generates brilliance for others turns to mush when it comes to me.
I €™m not alone either.
Every week I have the privilege of talking to founders from all over the world and we all have the same problem.
We suck at marketing for ourselves.
And we know it.
I have four hypotheses as to why this happens:
- We get obsessed with industry standards and trends instead of doing what we know works.
- We think a lot about our colleagues, since they €™re the ones commenting on our posts and sharing our articles.
- We ignore our instincts.
- We focus on €œwhat we want to do € instead of €œwhat people will pay for. €
In the original version of this article I went through each of these in detail but then I deleted it all when I realized they €™re just different words for the same thing:
We stop trusting ourselves.
This week I sat down with a friend and started listing a ton of legitimate reasons why I couldn €™t launch a new service. He looked at me, irritated, and said, €œMargo. Just f*cking launch. €
Hmph. He was right.
I had legitimate excuses, but all excuses sound like legitimate ones. Look:
- I need more time!
- There €™s not enough people on my list.
- We can do it, but after the podcast is released €¦in 3 months.
- That €™s fine, but not till we get an editor.
- It can €™t be done!
- This isn €™t the way it €™s supposed to be done!!
Yeah, it isn €™t.
Spoiler alert: No marketing is done the way it €™s supposed to be done.
At least, I €™ve never seen it. Not in a decade.
[Note: If you €™ve seen a marketing strategy that was created with plenty of time and executed without issue, please email me at email@example.com becuase I €™d like to hear about it.]
For the rest of us, we have to learn to ship with mistakes.
We €™ve spent so much of our careers teaching our clients what €œperfect € and €œbest in class € looks like, we €™ve forgotten that that €™s not reality.
Reality is messy. Last minute. Understaffed. (Dare I say) reactive.
Most of us are flying by the seat of our pants. But our energy is going to convincing each other (and our prospects) that we €™ve got this figured out. That we have €œsystems € and €œprocess € and perfect benchmarks and €¦
Whatever? — just between you and me: I know you don €™t have any of that. Even if your website says you do.
I know your launch emails haven €™t been written yet even though your FB ads went live yesterday. I know that yellow on your website isn €™t the style guide yellow. Hell, I know you don €™t have a style guide. I know you list all those funnel optimization services on your website, but really make money from ghostwriting blogs.
We all know.
It €™s how this works.
So let €™s end this cycle of €œthe shoemaker has no shoes, € by going back to the basics you already know, but have been ignoring:
What do your customers want?
NOT: What do they need?
NOT: What you think your they should care about?
NOT: What your competitors are offering?
NOT: What will your colleagues think if they land on your site?
NOT: Will former clients be impressed with me now?
NOT: What do I want people to think I €™m up to?
Your job has always only been one thing: Connecting your solutions to the real problems your customer €™s have.
Telling others how to do their marketing is a different skill. One we €™ve gotten really good at. But it €™s not the same as doing it.
Lucky for us the schism between the two isn €™t so big. It just requires some €¦discomfort.
We gotta get comfortable with being wrong (in front of former colleagues). And playing around €¦thinking outside of the €œtrends € and risking being perceived as weird.
Which can be embarrassing and awkward for our reputation as the €œexpert. €
But (hear me out) it can also work out really well for the people we actually care about: our customers.