What is this thing we call marketing?
When you ask people, they may reply quickly, off-the-cuff with answers like:
- Selling your business or product
- Social media
- Hounding people to buy something from you
- Advertising your business or product
- Promoting yourself
- “The bane of my existence” (yes, a real response)
These answers aren’t wrong. And, these answers are often what make people follow up and say:
- “UGH. I don’t like promoting myself.”
- “I feel like I’m bugging people when I market my work.”
- “Marketing is DEPLETING MY SOUL.” (real quote)
- “I don’t want to bother anyone with what I’m doing.”
- “It feels yucky to promote myself.”
- “I don’t want to be a pushy car salesman.”
WOW…that’s a lot of feelings. Negative ones. But it’s real. And common. I get it. So many people feel this way. And, you know what?! When I was starting SGS Workshop—A Creative and Marketing Consultancy—I hesitated to use the word “marketing” in the description. I had a real-world pause over that word. At first, I didn’t want to call myself a Marketing Advisor. And it was BECAUSE of all those negative connotations associated with that word marketing. “I don’t like what people think of when they hear the word marketing. And I don’t want them to think of me that way.”
But then, a wise, dear friend, who’d had her own challenging journey with marketing her work, encouraged me. She knew my marketing heart was different. (Sidenote: it’s so awesome having business besties who know you well and can help you know yourself.)
She was right. I want to spread a different definition of marketing.
If your beliefs are in the marketing-is-a-slimy-relentless-car-salesman camp, I’m here to help you see marketing under a different lens.
#1 Marketing is making friends and building relationships.
People like to buy from those they know, like, and trust. In other words, people want to work with someone they feel connected to and good about. Think of your marketing efforts as meeting new people and making new friends. Real friends that you truly care about. Be real. Be you. Share your story. Ask authentic questions. Meet them where they are and genuinely get to know them. This isn’t yucky, this is making friends and building community. This is marketing and you already know how to do it.
#2 Marketing is education.
Teach people about what you do. If you own a restaurant, share some behind-the-scenes information on where you get your ingredients or how you roast those vegetables. What’s one thing most people don’t know about what you do that might surprise them? Can knowing this thing help them in some way? Sharing your knowledge makes you a trusted advisor, deepens your connection, and helps you do #1 (make friends).
#3 Marketing is service.
Do you solve a problem with your business, product, or service? Are you improving lives, helping people, or making someone’s day a bit more enjoyable? You are serving others and making the world a better place with your work. Even if you make one person smile with your email, social media post, or newsletter…isn’t that enough? If you have the perfect solution for your friend who is struggling with her business (or car, or workout routine, or kitchen gadget), wouldn’t you tell her about it right away?!?! Of course you would because you know it will help her and friends look out for each other.
#4 Marketing is important, but maybe not for the reason you think.
Marketing is important for your business. It’s telling people what you do and inviting them to work with you. Not only does sharing your passion and excitement let the world know that you exist and that you can be of service, but it also inspires others to do get out there an market their work. It’s true. When someone sees you sharing, they will feel safe to share, too. Marketing is important because it expands the number of people you can serve and inspires others to do the same.
So, what is marketing? It’s the act of genuinely connecting with people, educating, serving, entertaining, and inspiring them. Marketing is the way you share your gifts with the world. You have no idea who needs to hear your message and you have no idea how wide-ranging the ripple effects of your message will be. Staying quiet isn’t really an option…there are people out there that need you!