My business coach said something recently that put my brain in a bit of a bind. She said that we need to educate people about our businesses without shouting about our businesses.
The problem is that, in this case, people’s definition of shouting tends to vary.
For me, shouting includes:
- Someone I’ve never met handing me their card and saying, “You really need to refer me to all your clients.” (“You need” is a close relative of “you should,” and I have a blog about that.)
- People emailing me more than once a month about things I don’t care about.
- Some people emailing me at all about things I don’t care about. (This depends on the person more than the things.)
- Reply All abusers. (OK, maybe that’s not shouting, just extremely annoying.)
- People and communications that are all, “ME! ME! ME!”
- Overly nagging to buy (again, subjective).
- Communications that don’t tell me anything new.
While it is good to understand your audience’s definition of shouting and try to conform to it, I don’t pretend to know what others think – so if I don’t know for sure, I have to fall back to my definition of shouting. And that’s when my personal demons kick in. (Admit it, you’ve got a few yourself.)
When it comes to marketing emails, I strive to humbly, and gratefully, ask the favor of, “would you tell other people about this upcoming event?” This way, at least, I’m not asking for a sale. (My issues around asking for a sale are a different blog – if not several years of therapy.)
But, what about the “things I care about” part? Obviously, I care about my own events and want them filled, but does anyone else? I do try to send that type of email to people who claim to like me and want me to succeed; yet, when do marketing messages become annoying? For me, very quickly.
And, thus, I tend to under-market.
The next part that’s got my brain going “aaaaarrrrrrrggggggh!” is that my job is to help business owners educate people about their businesses. How do I convince clients to put out regular newsletters, blogs, and other content when they don’t see me doing the same thing? I admit that I do fall back on the cobbler whose children have no shoes excuse – most business owners, especially solo-entrepreneurs, experience that.
The theory that I present to my clients is that when you provide something of value, you’re significantly reducing the volume and increasing the education. (Listen to your own advice Nicoles.)
As for regularity, I do tend to be generous. Newsletters max out at monthly (mine tend to be every 5 weeks – story for a different time). I’ve known organizations that put out newsletters more frequently – only to see their lists dwindle.
Blogs, on the other hand, are a different issue. Because I work by referral, I don’t care if I land on the first page of a Google search (unless you search my name, I don’t). However, on this topic, I am in the minute minority. Most of my clients want to land on that coveted first page. Well, here’s why I have a business: search engines care, deeply, about how fresh your website is. Translation: regular updates to your website make you more relevant in the eyes of Google. Know the easiest way to make regular updates to your website? Blog regularly.
Annoying, isn’t it? Especially since that’s only a part of it. New content is good, shared and commented upon content is better. And that is where I exit. Because getting your content out there – in more than just your own newsletter – requires a marketing plan. Remember me? I’m the one who tends to under market. But I know some folks….
So, back to the original question, am I shouting? People assure me that I’m not. In fact, I may not be loud enough to keep myself top of mind with the people I want thinking of me.
Are you shouting? How many people open your mailings? How many unsubscribes do you get when you send out a mailing? If everyone opens it and no one unsubscribes, then you’re not shouting – and your list is probably not big enough. Again, another blog at another time.
If you have as many unsubscribes as opens, You. Are. Shouting.