Chapter 4: Earn, Live & Learn….The Bike
Sales and marketing are often approached as two different things but really they go hand-in-hand. Marketing is about getting people’s attention and building awareness of your business. Whereas sales is traditionally what happens when you turn their interest into a purchase. These are essentially both business development activities.
In what ways does your business connect on a personal level with your customers?
What stories from your entrepreneurial endeavors convey the impact you want to create?
In what ways could you better communicate the vision of your entrepreneurial efforts with your tribe?
Pull vs. Push
The landscape of marketing has changed tremendously over the last 30 years. When there were three televisions stations and one local newspaper, it was easy to command people’s attention with an ad or commercial. Within a few soundbites you could make people feel a deep need for something they never knew they wanted. In essence you were pushing your idea, your product or service onto people.
This does not work anymore. We are so inundated with information that we spend more time ignoring stuff then we do engaging with it. Consumers are savvy and don’t want to be sold a bill of goods. And we can all be choosey of where we get our information, pursuing very specific values, ideals or interests.
Interruption marketing, as Seth Godin calls it, is from our past. Instead of pushing your ideas or products on people you need to pull in their interests. Think of yourself as a magnet or a beacon or a muse, attracting the attention of wanderers going on similar journeys.
This makes sense intellectually. We can all identify with the consumer, frustrated and annoyed by the interruptions from corporations that want our money. And yet putting these concepts into practice is difficult. That is largely because most of us take it personally when we build it and people do not come.
In the beginning, when I marketed an event or a new service and no one signed up, no one even expressed an interest, I would take it personally. But here is the thing, it is hard to put the pulling philosophy into practice when the first thing you put forth pushes your ultimate agenda. I was essentially jumping to the last step in the proverbial sales funnel by marketing an event and asking people to register when I did not even validate if there was a real, tangible market need for what I was offering.
To really attract the attention and interest of your customer you have to first see if your idea has any resonance. For the tech savvy misfit entrepreneur this may involve tests on social media or ad words. I have been a bit more old fashioned in my approach, focusing more in one-on-one conversations. Before I started writing this book I experimented with the idea of a Misfit Entrepreneur to see if that had any resonance. Obviously, it did!
The Best Ideas Sell Themselves
It is often said, that word of mouth is the best way to build a business. My experience holds that sentiment true. Some of my best customers have come from referrals These brand ambassadors are out there representing you because they want to. They believe in you and have a place in their heart for what you are doing. They speak with an unprecedented passion you cannot buy because it is genuine.
So, how do orchestrate such a phenomenon?
Jonah Berger’s research showed that ideas spread because people like to talk about them. They are practical yet evocative. At the very least, you gain cool points for being in the know.
All of this means that your marketing needs to have emotional resonance. Playing it safe to appeal to most everyone does not work anymore. But that is what most people want to do, to be fair we have been trained to get it right and fit in. Even the misfit sometimes struggles to rock the boat with their marketing!
People identify with a good story. It hits all the other criteria of ideas that spread Stories are emotional and catchy and just plain fun. Don’t tell people what your idea is, tell them the story of why it came to be.
Let Your Story Evolve
Whenever any of us decides to pursue our entrepreneurial interests, there is a story. It is an inspiring story, at least to the founder. The pain and need and possibility all feel so real, so intense, so urgent that you are jolted into action. You are going for it!
Your story is a big part of your business identity. You must embrace it and share it and live it. Stories need to always be a part of our business development efforts.
For your story to be about a successful business venture, you have to allow it to evolve to incorporate your customers story. Think of it as co-creating your entrepreneurial story with your customers. This is one of the many benefits of the customer discovery process. Together you can create a story that insights intrigue, connects emotionally and spreads!
Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger Based on years of research, Berger’s quest to understand why some ideas spread and others don’t led him to discover many unexpected insights while also confirming some of his assumptions. He’s developed a framework called STEPPS, which is a synthesis of his findings. Ideas typically spread because we gain Social currency, experience Triggers that make it top of mind, feel a strong Emotional reaction, make it Publicly known, the idea possesses Practical value, and there’s an intriguing Story.
Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends, And Friends Into Customers by Seth Godin In his groundbreaking first book, Godin shows how the internet is causing an attention crisis that is disrupting traditional marketing. A business cannot sustain itself with Interruption Marketing, as he calls it. Instead, companies need to ask consumers to opt-in to receiving their marketing. Gaining permission to engage with potential customers then turning them into paying clients is a slow process that involves more relationship building than sales.
Join in the creative process with me and share your experiences, reactions and questions in the comments!