Lisa Robbin Young

Welcome to Day Four of the Creative Freedom Challenge. Here are links to Day One, Day Two, and Day Three so you can stay on track.

Today, I'm sharing an example of heart-centered marketing in action using what I call the "show & tell technique" It's a great way to bake the marketing right into your offering, and what better business to demonstrate this than a donut shop?

But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, let's talk baseball... sort of.

If you build it, they might come, but...

The movie "Field of Dreams" has been both an inspiration and a thorn in the side of creative entrepreneurs since its release in 1989. It's fun to fantasize about the throngs of people that will come to take part in and appreciate your Great Work in the world.

But what most people miss is the effort Ray Kinsella had to undertake before he ever made a dime with his ball field. In fact, he didn't even PLAN to earn a living from the field. He just kept hearing this voice telling him "if you build it, he will come."

(Notice, that little voice was only talking about one person? That's important to note.)

When many creative entrepreneurs first start out, they don't intend to make a living doing what they love, so this part of Ray's story is all too familiar for most of us.

Ray's neighbors in Iowa thought he was crazy when he started mowing down his corn, stringing lights, and building bleachers. MONTHS went by before Shoeless Joe appeared in the field (the first ghostly ball player from beyond the corn).  It took even more time before enough players came to field a full team. By that time, Ray and his family were on the brink of losing everything. It's not until Ray's friend and daughter tell him that he could sell tickets and "people will come" that Ray understands what he's created.

Is it a business or an expensive hobby?

This is the third issue I see so many creative, out-of-the-box entrepreneurs face in doing what they love and getting paid for it... they forget about the fact that it has to make a profit or it's not a business.

There's nothing wrong with plowing your cornfield under to build a ball field, just for the sake of having a ball field. But if you don't want to lose your farm, you need to find a way to make a living from it.  And I don't mean squeaking by. I mean a profitable, sustainable living - without selling your soul.

You've got to let people know what you're up to. You have to be willing to put in the effort (and use heart-centered marketing to tell people about it), in order to see real, lasting results. Sure, there are folks that will think you're a little crazy - they said that about Lady Gaga, Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, and a host of other out-of-the-box entrepreneurs, too! But if you're doing your part to let people know about what you've built, the right people will find you.

And they're going to LOVE you.

But what do you say? How do you tell people about your Great Work?

Smart, authentic selling isn't about pushing anyone or being slimy. Authentic selling is part of heart-centered marketing. It's the part of the conversation where you share your story about your offering with the people who most need or want what you have to offer.

The 'Show and Tell' Technique

You don't always have to tell the story. Sometimes, you can show it. Remember show and tell time at school as a child? I was always bummed when I forgot to bring my thing to show. Telling is fine, and I'm a pretty good talker, but when you can show - when people can experience your Great Work in a context that amplifies the meaning - it's a lot easier for people to say yes.

When I used to make and sell candles, we would regularly do craft shows where we weren't the only candle maker at the event. Sometimes, we had to compete with corporate competitors, too. Our display stood out because we used our vertical space to elevate the fragrances and make our little booth look more like a shop than a table of crafts. People could see us from across the room. We used twinkle lights to create motion and catch the eye. In short, we did everything we could to show our product in the best possible light (no pun intended).

It doesn't matter what your Great Work is. The more you can show (create an experience) the easier it is to sell.

Cops and... doughnuts?


A couple hours from where I live is a place called Cops and Doughnuts. When the Clare City Bakery was about to go belly up, a group of local cops bought it and transformed the little bakery into a mouthpiece for the community. The entire shop has a law enforcement theme (here's my "mug shot" from one of my multiple visits to the shop). The staff dress like convicts, the bathrooms look like jail cells (it's a poster they hang on the doors), and the cops wear their police uniforms. They've been written up in national publications and people come from all over the world to visit their little bakery and try one (or more) of their tasty pastries. It's quite an experience!

When you walk in, there's a huge display case with all kinds of interesting treats (including a cream-filled maple bar that's topped with bacon - no kidding!). The cops will interact with you, ask you questions, and make you feel welcome. They might even take a video of you singing and post it on their social media channels. They'll tell you about their different doughnuts and help you decide which flavor is right for you.

It's so much fun, and you never feel pressured to buy anything. Just helpful, engaging conversation about buying (and selling) coffee and doughnuts at the Clare City Bakery.

Show and tell at its finest.

What would happen if the employees dressed like every other doughnut shop employee? Or what if the cops put a curtain in front of the display case? How would you know what they've got to offer? Sure, the sign says "doughnuts" but most people want to know what options they have before they buy. I don't know many folks who walk in and say "Gimme a dozen doughnuts. Surprise me."

Smart, authentic selling shares the real you (warts, sparkles, and all) and removes the curtain from your display case so your potential buyer knows what you offer and how it can help (or delight) them. 

It's not always about "solving a pain" - although I suppose if you're REALLY craving bacon you might make a case for that maple bar. As a musician, my music can inspire people and create delight. Some of my most viewed YouTube videos are my musical mashups - fun, funny parodies of popular music. It's not solving a pain, but it's definitely serving a delight.

What kind of experience are you creating?

Kind of like the doughnut shop - or "Field of Dreams" - it's up to you to educate people about how you serve them - about the experience you provide for them. Whether you're solving a pain or bringing them joy, be honest, authentic, and REAL with them by sharing the stories of your products and your company.

The best way to build a profitable, sustainable business doing what you love is to be yourself. Use YOUR words, tell your stories, and share your vision for what you're creating.

When you do it (and keep doing it, via heart-centered marketing), the right people will come.

Today's Assignment

Today, spend a little time thinking about your stories. What made you decide to start doing this thing that you love so much? How does it help (or delight) people? What kind of people does it help (or delight)? What stories do you have from your current customers that put your company or offering in a positive light?

Start thinking about what words you would use to tell these stories. Write them down and start practicing them. These stories are the threads that become the beautiful tapestry of your business. Stories sell. The better you get at telling (and showing) your stories, the more of your right people you'll attract.

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.

Artisan Trap

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.

Today's Assignment

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.

Here in the U.S., it's almost Thanksgiving, which means, black friday, cyber monday, and a whole lot of campy, cheesy, in-your-face marketing to ply you into buying more "stuff" to make your holiday complete.


It's one of the reasons I do an annual give-back campaign each November around the anniversary of my launch of The Secret Watch. Last year, we gave away over 1000 books. This year, we're doing a week-long event, so I can't wait to see how it all shakes out on December 1. You can learn more about the give-back event here (there are a few cool prizes I'm giving away, too!).

It's one way I stay top-of mind with my audience without the crazy "sell. Sell! SELL!" of the holidays. But this kind of marketing madness can happen any time of year, as this week's post proves. I managed to contrive a "reason" for having a crazy sale for every month of the year... and one heart-centered approach that works all year long.

The best marketing, regardless of the season, is caring for your clients. (click to tweet)

Side note: For St. Patrick's Day, I was trying to point out my green shirt, not my boobs. *sigh*

I hope you get a kick out of this fun little video. After you've watched it, I'd love to hear your ideas for heart-centered marketing during the holidays (at any time of year). Share your ideas in the comments so we can all learn a thing or two about marketing done right.