I don’t really like “marketing” my businesses in the traditional sense, but I’ve been listening to marketing shows on the road between errands (my fav is Mitch Joel’s Six Pixels of Separation—The Twist Image Podcast). I don’t like advertising per se (I ignore 99% of it myself). Mitch has fascinating discussions with entrepreneurs and marketing folks about the cutting edge of marketing philosophy (not just how to advertise).
I’ve also noticed that it can be important to be visible on the Web in an advertising sense; I have found products I do have some interest in via ads on social media or web pages. But I could also have found them by doing a search when I was really in the market to buy. But if I don’t even know something new or niftier exists, I may shortchange myself by not doing a broader search and just going to sources I’ve used before. So, there is a place for ads, I suppose, but there just seem to be too many.
I want to be visible, but I don’t want to bother anyone. How do I negotiate that tightrope? (You really do have to “bother” people to get their attention, I think.)
And I don’t care about mass market advertising, or even having a large-scale customer base (see Paul Jarvis for the virtues of staying small—and check out his ultra-minimalist website!). I just want to find a comfortable and profitable niche. As all the marketing gurus say these days, I want to find my tribe. Well, I’ve been running my editorial biz for twenty-five years or so, so I guess I have a really small tribe there. But it’s really small, and some of them (publishers) are moving to more favorable cost climates (India), so that original tribe is slowly moving out of the light of my fire and off into the shadows of otherwhere (or offering only bargain-basement rates for work).
And then there’s the new stuff, with cosmic mentoring at Cosmic Whispers and Tarot readings and deck creation, and of course, website design here. These are the areas I want to pull together for my next twenty years, and that means marketing, since these elements are relatively new.
But remember, I don’t want to bother anyone. I’m an extrovert (love people!), but I still don’t want to bother anyone. How do I stay visible and gather my tribe into the circle of my fire without driving them away with sparks from sales pitches or stinging smoke from ads? What is the best way to be visible so I can find customers to help without annoying them?
I guess I’m listening to Mitch Joel and these other marketing pros to find out what level to keep my fire at for the right brightness and warmth to attract my tribe. Let’s take this fire metaphor a bit further. So, how does a really great fire work?
- It’s contained because too much can hurt rather than help.
- It’s big and bright enough to be seen from far away.
- It provides warmth for those close to it.
- It provides light so the ones gathered around it can see and talk to each other.
- The creator of the fire has to provide fuel to feed it, but the tribe can help keep it going.
- When folks are gathered around a controlled fire, they feel safe and warm, and can then express themselves and share with others.
Interesting. Let’s translate the metaphor to marketing a small service business or an author’s book, or a craftsman’s creation.
Target your market, or build your fire for your tribe, not the whole world, and don’t bombard them with big ads about your product.
But don’t be invisible. What good is what you make or do if no one knows about it? Make your website easy to see (by search engines and humans) and easy to navigate, as well as friendly and focused on what they need or want, not just on what you create (there’s a balance to find there).
Be warm, but not necessarily everywhere or you will dissipate your fuel to no purpose. Professional website or resume; save the virtual handshake and friendly chatter for after they’ve made contact with your site or social media post, etc.
Encourage comments and interaction by asking good questions; create a real fan base, not just a customer list, so they will refer others to you and your creations.
Don’t forget to feed the fire, which means participating in selected social media, putting your product or service out there in blog posts or updates. Note that a good fire is not fed all the time, but only at appropriate intervals so it will last longer. And let your tribe help you keep the fire going by providing referrals and writing reviews. Once you build a medium sized fan base (say, over 1000 on Facebook), think about establishing something like a Patreon outlet for folks to support your creative production.
Keep a welcoming space with helpful blog posts and social media updates, as well as producing quality products and services for your tribe to use. That way, they’ll feel safe in sharing how wonderful you and your “fire” are with others who may need or want the same kind of help you’ve been providing all along.
Yep, that’s what I like. Not poking people with a stick (ads about my stuff), but inviting them to a warm, bright, safe place to talk about how I can help them get where they want to be.
Tell me how you’d build and maintain your fire for your tribe. I’d love to know.