The marketing industry is full of cool, self-assured characters who can speak with ease and write in a style that reflects their confidence. We follow these people on social media, check out their keynote addresses at industry conferences and avidly tune in to every podcast and YouTube broadcast, hanging on their every word.
These are the people we “lesser” marketers aspire to be like. We look up to them and try to emulate their style, to somehow capture their “voice” in the hope that some of their marketing gold dust will rub off on us. But in doing so, are we actually doing ourselves a disservice?
Remember: For every superstar marketer, there are many more who find success outside of the limelight. You don’t need to be the next Gary Vaynerchuk or Seth Godin to consider yourself successful. For most of us, hitting our targets and earning a decent wage is more than enough. So take inspiration from these awesome marketers, but don’t judge yourself based on their success.
Finding Your Own Voice
Too many marketers fail because they struggle to find their own voice in their marketing output. They compare their work with the superstars of the “scene,” and it puts doubt in their minds, forcing them to delay, overwork and eventually scrap projects. And when you stop marketing, everything else stops — including the flow of revenue, which is the lifeblood of your business or organization.
Because of this, I speak to marketers every day who struggle to get anything done — because they are overcritical of their work. They just don’t think it is good enough, and this is a shame because in this industry there is only one thing worse than doing something badly (although you really should aim a little higher), and that is doing nothing at all.
Instead of pumping out reasonably confident blog posts, targeted email marketing campaigns, engaging social media posts and informative white papers (and nobody is more informed about your business than you), they prefer to sit on their hands and do things the old way, which normally involves paying for leads through expensive acquisition marketing techniques.
It’s a Secret — Don’t Tell
I’ll let you in on a secret: Despite the fact I earn my living through my writing and speaking engagements, I’m not one of those characters who can simply breeze onto a stage or throw words at a page with effortless ease. Like many other marketers, I really have to work at it.
But the one thing I have learned not to work on is trying to emulate other marketers. This lesson didn’t come easy. I was perhaps 10 years into my marketing career before I realized that I could be myself and get away with it.
My “lightning bolt” moment came when I was speaking at an event where I knew a very senior executive from a major high street retailer was in the audience. I was racked with nerves. What could I possible teach this man with my more “meagre” and certainly less corporate experience? I saw him standing at the back of the room, scowling in his pinstripe suit, taking the occasional note. I tried to put him out of my mind and focus on the “smaller” guys at the front of the room.
Following my presentation, the senior executive made a beeline for me, thrusting his hand into mine. Apparently he really valued the idea of creating a more “agile” and “human” environment, which I had spoken about during my presentation, and he bemoaned the fact that his old-school business was falling behind more agile, smaller competitors who were adopting these practices. A couple of months later, the executive contacted me and let me know that he had quit his role with the corporate entity and started a new career with a fledgling start-up. The catalyst for this change was apparently my presentation. I bump into him every now and again, now wearing jeans and a T-shirt, often accompanied with a broad smile. While the business is still in its infancy, in many ways he’s already found success.
A New Approach
Since that day, I’ve never tried to deviate from my own style to try to impress an audience, because it turns out just being yourself is more valuable. The fact is that people buy from people they like, and if you are trying to be someone else it will create a barrier to forming a proper relationship.
Your potential clients (certainly the ones who will eventually commit to spending serious money with you) will always value authenticity and expertise over any pretence or fake veneer. So never be afraid to be yourself.
Never compare your style of delivery against those “slick” marketers. Just ask yourself: Is it good enough? And remember, good enough is often good enough.
4 Rules for Success
For those of you struggling with marketing confidence — stick to the following rules and you should be OK.
- Focus on Solving Problems: Your content should always focus on solving a particular problem for a particular client.
- Be Prolific: Every day you fail to publish, post or hit the send button creates an opportunity for a competitor to sneak in and take business from you.
- Be Inspired: Taking inspiration from other marketers doesn’t mean you need to plagiarize their style or ideas. If you really know your own products, services and clients, the content should nearly write itself.
- Be Yourself: You’ve been doing this all your life — it shouldn’t be too hard.
Do you struggle with the idea of just being yourself? Have you found a more authentic route to marketing has brought you great success? Share your comments below: