Welcome to Day Three of the Creative Freedom Challenge! Catch up here: Day One | Day Two
One of the most important first steps for a creative entrepreneur to make is getting clarity - around what really matters to you and making the transition to doing more of your Great Work in the world.
Today, we're looking at another big problem for creatives that want to make a good living doing what they love: confidence. Specifically, the confidence it takes to share your Great Work with the world.
Yes, we're talking about marketing, but it's more than that. It's being willing to step out of the vicious circle that keeps you from making progress and seeing sustainable growth in your business.
The Artisan Trap
So many creatives fall into what one of my clients called "The Artisan Trap". Les McKeown, former client and author of the book "Predictable Success," describes The Artisan Trap as a time when the entrepreneur focuses almost exclusively on bringing in sales, and then switches over to fulfilling the orders... which causes sales to stall because you're not "out there selling".
According to Les: "It becomes a vicious cycle of selling and delivering that prevents the business from growing."
Many creative entrepreneurs tell me that they "don't like sales" or that "doing marketing" turns them off. They'd just prefer to do what they love and not worry about "the selling part."
I get it. You may recall the line from Glengarry Glen Ross: "ABC: Always Be Closing." That feels manipulative, slimy, and not at all in integrity with the way I want to show up in the world. If you're anything like me, you probably feel the same way, too.
Yet, without a clear marketing and sales strategy in place, it's hard to consistently reach your right customers. If you're still working another job, you have even less time to devote to creative or sales efforts.
So you end up "throwing spaghetti on the wall to see what sticks" until the orders start coming in. Then, with orders in hand, you stop "selling" and focus on delivery... until something else draws your attention (like when the day job calls again!). So basically, creative entrepreneurs that keep their head down and "in the work" never get their nose above water, and are constantly re-starting their business. They make stuff, they stop making so they can sell, then go back to making again once all their stuff is sold.
Vicious cycle, yes?
Plus, the idea of "closing" means the conversation has ended. It's over. There's nothing more to do. But I'm sure you'd like to do business with your clients more than once, yes?
That's why it's important to shape your marketing around who you are and what matters to you first. Otherwise, it feels slimey, sleazy, and you just won't do it.
Let's end this vicious cycle, shall we?
Heart-centered marketing isn't icky, slimy, or inauthentic. Done well, marketing is a conversation with your right audience, to help them understand how you can better serve them - and to help them say yes to your offers more easily if it's a good fit.
So, let's create variation on the "Always Be Closing" theme - a variation that most healthy businesses take to heart.
Always Be Connecting
If heart-centered marketing is about conversations, that means you've got to connect with people to have those conversations. So what if you looked at your daily tasks in a new way - what if anything that connected with a potential client was considered marketing?
Does that freak you out a little or inspire you?
Surveys suggest investing anywhere from 1-4 hours each business day doing marketing-related activities. That can sound daunting if you think in the "traditional" sales model. Instead, let's apply this new model of "Always Be Connecting" and see how it works.
I actually block out entire days each week as "marketing days" to focus on marketing-related activities. The key word is "activity". It's active. These are just some of those marketing-related activities:
* writing new content for my website
* recording new songs and training segments for my videos
* writing and sending my weekly newsletter
* connecting with clients and contacts in person, via email, or on social media
This list doesn't feel heavy, slimy, or icky to me. Some of it is even fun! These are authentic ways for me to reach my right audience, based on who I am and how I like to show up in the world. It's my way of sharing my Great Work with the world in ways that work for me.
Let's be honest about one thing, though: just because it works for me, doesn't mean it works for you. I love video, and you might hate it. That's fine. It's not about being everywhere. It's about being where YOU want to be, reaching your right people in ways that work for you.
If you believe in your message and your Great Work, there are people in the world that need to know about it.
Unlike "Field of Dreams" (a myth we'll bust next time), you can't just build it and expect people to come. Products and services don't sell themselves. Heck, even in Field of Dreams only one person came to the field! He's the one that told the other players to come check out the ball diamond (word of mouth marketing, baby!)
If you're not talking about your own Field of Dreams, who will?
Heart-centered marketing doesn't have to be a chore or a big to-do, but you do need to make time for it on a regular basis. And it can be in simple things you're already doing in your daily workload to connect with your right audience.
Otherwise, you'll be stuck in The Artisan Trap for life, which is no way to run a profitable, sustainable business.
Start looking for ways to make marketing activities part of your regular routine. Ask yourself these questions as a starting point:
- Who can you introduce to your Great Work?
- Who can you ask for help in spreading the word?
- Do you have someone you need to follow up with? An email to send?
- Can you engage your fans by sharing a sneak peek of what you're working on?
- What ONE thing can you do today to "Always Be Connecting" in a heart-centered way?
Remember the list of non-negotiables you made. Make sure your marketing-related activities are in alignment and integrity with your non-negotiables. Then, share one of your ideas in the comments below and let's be a rising tide for everyone.
Speaking of "sneak peeks"...
I am about half way through my next book, and have started seeking readers to review the chapters. If you're interested, leave a comment or contact me and I'll get you more information on how you can be part of my advance reader team.