I’ve just returned from an incredible transformation retreat where the underlying mechanics of something I’ve been grappling with for many years were revealed to me.
For many years I have struggled with my writing. If you’ve been following me and reading my blogs you’ll know that this is a theme that has come up over and over as I worried what other people would think, edited to death, and hesitated to put my writing “out there” in case I was criticised.
The past weekend I became very present as to what was really going on deep down – and that it was more than the “not good enough/not wanted” story that had a tendency to play out.
In truth it was my marketing training, battling it out with my innate (and unconscious) understanding of human connection.
I’ve had 18 years of marketing training and experience – 11 years of teaching it in my own business plus 7 years as a Sales & Marketing Manager for a small manufacturing company. All this knowledge and experience told me very loudly what I must do to get clients.
In its simplest form it follows this specific structure:
- State the problem
- Agitate the problem
- Present the solution
However at my core I believe that when it comes to our life journey (and indeed our business journey) there is no true “problem” which needs “a solution” – at least not in the way marketing is taught. That meant that in order to promote myself authentically I needed to ditch this way of marketing.
I therefore spent 4 years promoting my business in the way my heart longed to market – which was through writing and sharing my journey, revealing my insights and sharing things that were supportive to me. I naïvely hoped that people would be so impressed with how much my life had transformed and how beautifully I wrote that they’d want to experience it for themselves and they’d be clamouring at the door asking how they could work with me. Ok I wasn’t quite that naïve – but I did think by sharing vulnerably and authentically I’d attract enough clients to sustain me and my family.
That wasn’t my experience.
Looking back I can see that I was living through a raging battle between how society (and business) dictated how I “should” be and my true essence.
I longed for a business where I could be authentically me and receive abundantly and yet I was shackled by conventional marketing training.
It went something like this:
“People don’t care about you – they care about what you can do for them.”
Remember: WIIFM – what’s in it for me.
You have to use “you” and “your” and highlight the problem you solve. Choose stories carefully to illustrate a teaching point.
“I want to lead with my stories and insights and share my journey so others see themselves through me”
I want to use “me” and “I” and talk about my experiences. I want to poke fun at myself and show people that life is inherently beautiful – and that once we break free from the shackles that keep us tied down freedom awaits.
As I experimented with both “marketing” and being “authentically me” this is what I discovered:
“Marketing” got me a 6-figure business
“Authentically me” got me into debt.
Yeuch! A choice between being authentic and broke, or selling my soul for money!
Yet I refused to choose – I wanted both.
There had to be a way to honour both marketing AND to be authentically me.
And this weekend I learned something deeply profound.
I learned that the reason I longed to write about myself and my own experiences is because hearing other people’s personal stories and experiences creates connection. When we listen (or read) someone’s story we connect at a soul level – we connect with ourselves and we connect with the story-teller. It’s so obvious now I know.
Conversely when we hear someone speak generically in terms of “you” we tend to engage at an intellectual level. We may find it interesting and it can lead to a great conversation but we don’t connect in the same way. We don’t connect emotionally.
Until the weekend I didn’t know this – but I felt it. It was why I longed to write from a very personal and vulnerable perspective.
However thanks to my marketing background, I made myself wrong for writing in this way – hence the struggle.
Yet the truth is:
Connection is the essence of marketing.
I had to throw away all the tactical, false ways that marketers use to create connection and first of all connect to myself – then connect with you by sharing my insights and my journey.
It was a nonsense to choose between marketing and being authentic because at the heart of both is connection.
And that’s exciting.
However there were some other pieces of marketing which I threw out alongside the inauthenticity and these are crucial for a sustainable business. By throwing these out potential clients were confused and so did nothing. Simple, essential pieces like having products/services on offer plus a mechanism in place to consistently invite people to buy them. It’s really obvious but because I was rebelling against false connection I rebelled against everything to do with marketing. Not smart! I don’t recommend it!
However these are very different from the Problem-Pain-Solution model and easy to implement. (I’ll be sharing more on what I offer and how you can work with me very soon).
And I have to say I’ve gotta laugh at God’s wicked sense of humour in giving me the gift of connection – and making it my livelihood – when I’ve felt like an alien most of my life!