Dinner was over. We were outside the restaurant. We were about to hug goodbye. And my friend Doug says, “Hey can you look something over for me?”
Inside, I freeze.
Occasionally, Doug asks me to “look things over.” That’s fine. It’s not the looking over part that’s the problem. I’m good at this stuff.
The problem is that Doug is lost in the land of the printed brochure. Trapped in the illusion that brochures, pamphlets and mailers are the way to build your business and get people to hire you.
This evening, I learn that Doug has made a new brochure to send out to cold contacts who he got from a list of blah blah blah… and who might want to blah blah blah…
It’s the eternal friend-clash in my head:
When I love someone and want to do the thing they’re requesting of me…
…but when the thing they’re requesting is not going to work no matter how great I edit or create a good angle for a cover letter. (And in this case, it’s already printed and paid for. The brochure has been made. We’re now an Air Supply song away from being jettisoned back to the 1980’s.)
If you send out brochures, I’m betting you envision the life-span of your painstakingly produced 6-panel spread like this…
Step 1 – You tuck your brochure into the mailer, and send it out.
Step 2 – The contact receives the mailer and is instantly taken. Flipping it over, she will think: “Beautiful! What great colors and what a kind well-meaning look this person has in his eyes. I wonder what sort of work this nice human does and how he can help me?”
Step 3 – The contact will then read every single word on all six panels, working her way, line-by-line, down to the contact information. (Exactly as you planned it! Mwahahahahaha!)
Step 4 – She will make the phone call instantly – and you’ll get a new client, customer or gig.
Now, let’s consider a more likely scenario for your brochure…
Step 1 – The mailer hits the desk of your contact with a giant stack of other mail from people who also want things from her.
Step 2 – Later in the day, when she has no energy for anything else, she starts to go through the stack. The phone rings.
Step 3 – Cradling the phone with her neck, she opens your mailer and stares at it while listening to her teenage son asking to go to a football game tonight with his friends. (He’s forgotten that he promised to mow the freakin’ lawn this evening.)
Step 4 – She flips your brochure over while lecturing her son, feeling like a total mom-failure. She tosses your brochure into an inbox beside her desk. No bandwidth right now. Your well-meaning eyes are left staring at the ceiling as the shrill voice of a harried mom fills the room.
Step 5 – Three weeks later, your contact slacks her assistant asking for help with her office. There are too many decisions to make, and the clutter is killing her. In the organizing efforts, the assistant looks at your brochure, flips it over and back. She tosses it into the trash, feeling mildly guilty for the wasted trees and the fact that you look like a pretty nice person.
Presentation vs Conversation
Here’s the #1 problem: You think marketing is about presentation.
Marketing is about conversation.
A brochure is a presentation. It says, “Ta-dah! Here I am! Me me me me me!” And, unless it is a part of a meticulously strategic campaign, it’s a waste of money.
You know this. I know this. And yet, you’re still caught in the Presentation Trap, ignoring strategy in favor of hope. You keep trying to “get your name out there.”
Cut it out. Let’s ditch the energy of “me me me me me.” Your work is better than that. Now that you’re great at what you do, let’s get you great at how you put it out there.
Here are 12 ideas to get you started…
- What if you spent a good solid hour a day for one week getting clarity on who this person is (the one who hires you/pays you)? Know her challenges, fears and dreams. Get to know her even better than she knows herself.
- What if you recorded a short video about a topic you’re an expert in and post it on your Facebook page? Do this every week. Take a popular misconception or question about what you do and distill it into a 3 minute video.
- What if you created a podcast about the issues that your ideal client or your industry deals with and position yourself as an expert?
- What if you started a contest on Facebook that captures the attention of the people who would normally be hiring you?
- What if you took the time to mine for and collect testimonials and success stories? Get your peeps to talk about themselves and the impact you made on them. (Video is best.)
- What if you became a LinkedIn publisher and posted shareable articles right there where your ideal client hangs out?
- What if you grabbed sections from that book you wrote two years ago and repurposed them into a cool little eBook to send to people for free? (Don’t forget to add in a few of those testimonials you got.)
- What if your next talk is a specific topic that’s timely and relevant to the audience of that person who might hire you? (Like, “The New Practice of Inner Peace in Tumultuous Times.” Not, “Hey I’m a speaker and I’d love to come to your event/institution to do my thing.”)
- What if you made sure you always articulate your clear call to action when it comes time for the ask? Know exactly what you want your peeps to do. “Hey, I’m here. Contact me,” is about as compelling as the aforementioned Air Supply song.
- What if you searched the names of the “warmer” people on your cold list on Facebook to see what they post about, and what matters to them? Then, find a way to genuinely connect with them on common ground. (Hey, they hike with their dog and kids on the weekends – and you have a pass to the one of the synchronous firefly events in the Smokies that you can’t use. Send it to them!) Be conversational.
- What if you took photos of you with the promoters/peeps you work with and post them on social media to build credibility and create a consistent stream of social proof?
- What if you created your own Facebook Group around your business? A place where others can find their tribe, ask questions, collaborate. You build your authority in that niche as well as having access to potential clients.
I’ve helped hundreds and hundreds of people start businesses from nothing, hit the $100K mark, and then go on to create empires. There’s a moment that happens for each of them when they’ve worked with me for a few months. They’re shifting out of presentation and into conversation.
And the miraculous happens…
They get a client effortlessly. They are invited to do something they’ve been coveting forever. Their response is always the same. A big long, “Oooooohhhhhhhhhh. I get it!” The lightbulb flicks on – and they’re now addicted to being great marketers and conversation starters. Marketing becomes a part of who they are, not something to present.
Now, it’s your turn. Any of these ideas look like something you could use? Tell me…