Marketing Isn't a Dirty Word

A few months ago I wrote a post about content marketing in which I made the brazen assertion that marketing isn't a dirty word, and I promised to go into that more deeply in another post.

Ready, set, go!

Let's face it, marketing doesn't have the best reputation, thanks to plenty of sleazy, cheesy, underhanded, and in-your-face practices that are employed by everyone from sole practitioners to international brands. At its worst, marketing feels like an attempt to con hardworking people out of their hard-earned cash.

Not to mention how marketing can feel to those of us who grew up with complicated money stories (and seriously, who among us managed to reach adulthood without a complicated money story?). 

You can count me in as part of that last demographic. Money was always a weighty subject when I was a kid, because there never seemed to be enough, and that caused a lot of instability. So part of my money story is that as I entered adulthood, I brought with me an ingrained disbelief that there are lots of people who truly do have the means to live comfortably, afford the things they want, and even be philanthropic, all without ruining their finances.

Of course, I always knew that there were tons of people more financially privileged than me; they were the families I was comparing to mine. But on practical and emotional levels, I couldn't identify with their financial experience, and that made their reality feel foreign and unreal. So I ended up feeling sheepish and guilty about the marketing work I had to do in my jobs, like in my twenties, when I worked in professional theater and had to help attract audiences to our productions.

But once I learned the concept of a money story, I was able to examine mine from a more objective perspective. I started to pinpoint what was going on in my relationship with money, and how that influenced my feelings about marketing.

I finally began to look beyond my own realm of understanding and I was able to stop feeling so uncomfortable asking people for money in return for a good or service. I came to realize that people make purchasing decisions based on their values, and if what I'm offering aligns with their values and improves their quality of life, that's simply a good match.

Suffice it to say, It took me a long time to realize that marketing is an innately neutral thing; it's only how we practice it that turns it into a positive or negative experience, both for the consumer and the seller.

Marketing is simply the means by which a person or company shares what they have to offer to an audience.

Sometimes the match isn't right, and the audience passes up the offer.

Other times the match is perfect and the audience gobbles up the offer and asks for seconds.

So here's what I want you to do to land on the right side of that scenario:

  1. Explore your money story. There's a plethora of books and coaches out there who can help you dig deep into this emotional work.
  2. Get very, very clear on who your perfect audience is, what they want, and why. Don't bother targeting anyone else. Let those imperfect matches float off on the wind.
  3. Do your research about how your ideal customer or client likes to be approached, spoken to, persuaded, and followed up with. Talk to people and ask them, no strings attached, just to learn.
  4. Practice your matchmaking skills in your marketing content, so that your communication about your goods and services is in total alignment with what you know about your customers.
  5. Speak from the heart and don't copy others' practices unless they're in alignment with both your values and your audience's values. The best marketing feels like either a service you provide to your ideal customers (because it is - there's so much you can provide them!) or a conversation between you and them (again, because it is - social media and blogging are great for this!).

Whatever blocks you feel around marketing, I hope this helps to start breaking through them. It's a much happier space to live in as a business owner or leader, when you're at peace with this aspect of your business.


What are your hang-ups around marketing? Or if you've worked through them, what helped you do that?

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