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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.