Over the many years I’ve done consulting, one of the most common things I hear from people is that they have a fear of promoting. Anything that involves actually getting out and inviting a potential client/customer to become an actual client/customer is the most frightening thing to imagine to some.
I understand that. The fear of rejection is a pretty big one when it comes to the Top 10 list of things that make you want to curl up in a ball and cry. But if you’re not willing to promote your business, then really you don’t have a business. If you’re not promoting yourself, what is your plan for getting new clients/customers? Who will do the marketing work for you?
I know that promotion is scary; however, it doesn’t have to be. Promoting yourself is a skill, like any other skill, but when you’re not really used to it, it feels quite awkward. If feels a bit weird. But it’s supposed to feel weird. It’s like when you learn a new language where you will:
- trip around words a lot
- feel self-conscious
- wonder if you have a weird accent
It’s all part of the process. Until you get better at it and until you’re used to doing certain things out of habit, you’ll feel resistance and discomfort. But it will pass.
It’s like getting your legs waxed. I go in and someone pours hot wax on me and rips it off. It’s weird and even a bit embarrassing. It’s more than a bit painful. But the solution is not to sit there and let my legs get hairy. It’s to do the uncomfortable thing to get the result I’m after. It’s the same with promotion. The funny thing about getting your legs waxed is that it gets easier over time. Once you’re in a steady routine, it hurts less and less each time. Again, it’s the same with promotion. Once you get into a rhythm with it and you start seeing the results of getting the word out, it becomes a lot easier to do.
Fear of Promoting
The major sticking points people have with their fear of promoting is that they’ll seem pushy, they’ll screw it up, or they’ll have to engage in dirty tactics. Let’s talk about all three.
1. The Pushy. Everybody worries about the pushy. We worry that if we send an email, we’ll come off as pushy. If we make a phone call or send a letter, or do something to increase our visibility, we will be seen as one of “those marketers” and no one wants to be one of “those marketers,” right? How many of “those marketers” do you actually know, anyway? Are you really believing that marketing means being pushy because every marketer around you acts that way, or might it be a belief based on television stereotypes and a very few bad telemarketing apples?
There seems to be this attitude that all marketing is pushy, but seriously, spend the next two days looking around at how you are marketed to wherever you go and you’ll see that there are lots of great gentle ways that it happens everyday. Don’t throw the good out with the bad. Don’t start thinking that promoting yourself has to mean being pushy. There are a lot of ways to promote without being pushy, and believe it or not, the mere act of receiving a promotional email does not light up people’s “pushy” buttons and get them mad.
2. Fear of doing it wrong. This is a really easy fear to get side-tracked by. We think we have to get things perfect, or we think that if we’re not already really good at it, it will backfire. But that’s not the case. First of all, the way you get good at something is to do it. That’s how you start chiseling off all the rough edges. You have to do it wrong before you can do it right. And “wrong” isn’t really the word I want to use here. Basically, you need to do it as an amateur before you can do it with some skill. And the good news is that even if you do your promoting somewhat correctly, you can get some very good results.
If you suck at writing subject lines and you’re selling consulting, then you can let your subject line say “Consulting is now on sale.” It’s not sexy; however, it is clear. Interested people will understand. You can get better at subject lines later, but for now you’re getting clients. The same goes for your websites. I know someone who had 10 products he needed to write sales pages for, but he didn’t have the time. It was going to take him a month or two to get the sales pages done. So what he ended up doing was making a page with the names of the 10 products and one sentence describing each. After that was a link that said “Buy this for $200.” A $200 product and the sales copy is basically one line that says “This product does X and Y and Z. Buy it for $200.” No fancy sales copy, no mention of guarantees. And he made sales. Not a ton of sales, but more than a few in the time it took him to finally get the sales pages done. And that wouldn’t have happened if he wasn’t willing to screw it up for a while. So don’t sweat it. If you make mistakes in your promotions, you will at least get some result and you can learn from it. But you’ll never learn and get better if you don’t start doing the doing.
3. Marketing is dirty. A lot of people have that association with marketing and sales and promotion. They think it’s underhanded or greedy. Now, I won’t say that used car salesmen and telemarketers haven’t given good reason for this cultural assumption. But you are neither a used car salesman nor a telemarketer. Promoting yourself does not have to be dirty.
Here’s what I want you to do to get over this fear: Look around you over the next few days at the people you like who promote to you. It maybe a store such as the Gap or Land’s End. Maybe it’s someone you know and like online that sends you emails. Could it be the local store that sends you fliers and coupons? Whatever it is, pay attention to it. See how you don’t have negative associations to their promotions. See how you don’t think it’s dirty, pushy, or underhanded. Because when you can see that – and really see it – you can break that strong association you have in your head. You can also stop worrying that marketing will feel dirty to you. There are a lot of good, clean ways to do marketing. You can make plenty of money being one of the good people.
How to Get In Touch With and Without Promoting
I want you to stop thinking about promoting as “promoting” and start thinking about it as “getting in touch for a reason.” This is important, because there can be a lot of reasons to get in touch with people. You could be getting in touch with them to let them know a new product or service is available, or that you’re running some kind of sale or special offer. That’s standard. But the other reason you could be getting in touch with them is to simply let them know you still exist and send them something interesting.
When it’s time to promote, view it as getting in touch. And the trick to getting in touch is that you have to do it regularly. If you have an email list, contact them once a week, or at the outside, once every two weeks. If you have a physical mailing list, once every two weeks or once a month will keep that list warm. The point is that you always need to be getting in touch, or they will forget who you are.
It doesn’t always have to be a “sell something” communication. Mix it up with purely interesting messages. But keep that list warm. Don’t get in touch later, get in touch now, and do it regularly so that they’ll never be surprised by a sudden message from you. A list that grows cold is no list at all.
If you’re not sure what to do during your non-promotional messages, remember that your customers are humans. Forward them articles, offer to answer their questions, be willing to connect with them in non-industry standard ways. If they’re used to your weekly recipe newsletter, send them bakery pictures that blow their mind, even if a recipe is not included. If they’re used to a physical mailing about your custom jewelry, create a short video series on how to accessorize and send them a postcard with instructions on how to access it.
Whatever media your slice of the industry likes to use, try something else. If everyone in your sphere is using Facebook, use something else. Surprise them. Mix it up. Keep them interested. And above all, remind them that you are helpful. This way, you keep that list of yours warm, happy, and liking the act of hearing from you. And when it comes time to really promote, it won’t seem so scary.
But seriously, start getting in touch now–not later. You don’t have time to waste. Keep the list warm. Individually contact paying customers and clients and ask them if they want to buy more. That’s one of the shortest paths to generating more money fast. Never be afraid to let existing customers get an individual contact from you.
Let me share a story with you if that seems scary to you:
There are three business owners out there who are selling something I want. All three of these individuals are people I like. I know their products and services are good. I have three specific products – one from each of them – that I’ve been meaning to get around to purchasing. And they are expensive. From what I remember, each of these three products cost between $350 and $600.
I want you to listen very closely here. I am ready to buy each and every one of these things right now. I’m sold. But I’m also very busy. And because I’m busy, I forget. I keep telling myself, “You know, I really liked when this one person did this service for me. I need to get around to ordering that.” I keep telling myself, “You know, I’ve really been meaning to pick up that other person’s course, and I need to get around to that.” The problem is, I’m human. Which means I don’t get around to it. I remember these things when I’m drifting off to sleep, or taking a shower, and I forget about it within a minute or so.
But here’s the thing: I am sold. I would buy these three things in a heartbeat. But I never hear from these people. I know I’m on their lists, but they don’t send out mailings. If they were to each send out an email today saying “X or Y or Z is available if you want it,” they would each be $350 to $600 richer by the end of the day. And that’s just from me.
I’m not alone. There are a lot of people on everybody’s lists – yours included – who have been meaning to buy something but just keep forgetting. Or they’ve been waiting until the right time, but they’ve been waiting so long they hadn’t noticed the right time has already arrived. There are a lot of people just like me, who are waiting for the email or the postcard or the whatever to arrive and remind them to pick up that thing they’ve been meaning to buy. There are existing customers who will buy more if you only remind them. Existing clients who will sign up for more service if you only remind them. And potential customers who have been waiting for the right time – and that time has finally come. I’m one of them. I’m waiting.
You’ll never get those potential customers if you don’t contact them. You’ll never get additional purchases from your existing clients/customers if you don’t offer them. So do it. Get over your fear of promoting and get in touch. Now. There are people out there who are waiting to buy the things you’re selling. Reach out to them today.