I love this photograph, shared on Instagram by my friend, Katie. @DudeWithSign hit the nail on the head. The day before I saw this post, a client and I chuckled (with a bit of despair) over the fact that it’s really hard to start an email these days.
This got me thinking…
When you’ve made the decision to be authentically you in your business communications (and in your life!), it can be really hard (and off-brand) to fake it when you’re actually not feeling great.
Do we need to fake it?
I have to say, I really appreciate brands, founders, and email newsletters that are honest and share the truth. Getting an honest or vulnerable email can feel like receiving a letter from a dear friend, rather than an advertisement from a company that’s just trying to get me to buy something. It makes me feel like I’m not alone. Yeah, things ARE rough right now. Thanks for seeing me. Now I want to take the time to keep reading and see you, too.
How do we navigate rough waters? How do we stay authentic when we’re feeling awful? Do my customers, clients, email subscribers even want to hear it about? Shouldn’t I be propping them up?
There is no right or wrong answer to these questions. The Marketing and Copywriting Playbook for our current times has not been written. (And, honestly, even if it had, I’d suggest that you only use what you like and throw the rest away.) We are all pretty-much making things up as we go along. Anyone who says otherwise, well, I think they are faking it.
But we still need to share our products and services with the world! We want to keep our businesses going, we want to make an impact, help people, connect. What’s the best way when things are rough?
When feeling stuck on how to proceed with your marketing communications during oh…just a little GLOBAL pandemic, a Black Lives Matter crisis, the California wildfire season, a new school year of at-home online learning, a devastating hurricane season, and a US election cycle that will probably be like no other, I recommend deep breathing and going back to the basics…
KNOW WHO YOUR IDEAL CLIENT IS…
This is the key to all marketing activities. Literally, always Step 1. Plan A. The topic sentence. Who-is-your-ideal-client is the first thing to think about and the first thing to return to whenever you’re confused (a frequent state for me right now). Marketing is all about building relationships. Real ones. WHO are you connecting with? WHO is on your list? WHAT keeps THEM up at night? Reminder, it might not be the same as what keeps you up at night…ie, YOU might not be YOUR IDEAL CLIENT. I was on a call with a woman last week who said “…but I don’t think I can charge that…I wouldn’t pay that.” And, we quickly realized that she was not her ideal client. Get clear on WHO you’re talking to.
TALK TO YOUR IDEAL CLIENT. You know them. You may not be them, but you know how to have a relationship with them. If you were going to have a conversation with them on the street, what would you talk about? That’s how you email them. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the state of the world, would you talk to this person about that if you ran into them at a coffee shop (when that was still a thing)? Be honest. Be real. Be you. Humans can tell when people are being honest and when people are faking.
AND…when it all seems like too much…
ACTIVATE YOUR “ANTI-BUMMER SQUAD”
A sidebar from the 1997 article written by Curtis Sittenfeld that I shared in my last post (Doing Business at the Speed of Molasses)
“Who are your people? Have you let them boost you up lately?
Founder of BrightHouse, Joey Reiman believes, ‘If your self-worth is high, your net worth will be high.’ So he urges people to create—as he has done—an ‘anti-bummer squad,’ consisting of friends and mentors. ‘When you’re feeling uncreative, call the people on your anti-bummer squad and take them out to dinner [or for an outdoor walk wearing masks],’ says Reiman. ‘They’ll tell you how wonderful you are and how much they love you.’”
And sometimes that’s all we need. So consider me part of your “Anti-Bummer Squad” this week. You ARE wonderful and I see you over there doing amazing things in the midst of so much. You are creative and brave and incredibly resourceful. Celebrate even the smallest accomplishments this week—getting out of bed counts! And if you actually showered or checked-off something on the To Do list…I say pull the floats out of storage, it’s time for a parade.