Peeling back some marketing bullshit

by Rhiannon on June 7, 2013

This title should get me some fun google searches!

In no particular order, some bullshit you tend to believe or assume about other peoples’ marketing:

No more bullshit!Have you seen your peers and mentors launch new things and unveil new services, and suddenly they’re talking about all the amazing response and all the new people they’re working with, and you think DAMN, I WANT TO DO THAT TOO?

Or, more accurately because suddenly you’re feeling as tiny and insignificant as an ant, DAMN, THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN FOR ME BECAUSE [insert bullshit reason here].

How about this one: if your own launch doesn’t look or feel particularly like an A-lister’s, you may as well not have done it. (This one keeps you from launching at all.)

What about all the bullshit you hear about using pain points in your sales copy? Find what scares them and use that! Find the thing they worry about, the thing they fear or want the most, and promise them the solution in your copy — don’t worry if you can’t truly solve that problem for them, because their belief that you can is what will make you the money you want.

Listen. The reason I’m being so blunt here is that some of you amazing people look up to me, for whatever reason, and I don’t want ANY of you making bullshit assumptions about me, or others like me, that keep you from marketing the way you know you really want to.

1. We don’t make jillions of dollars.

Right now, I’m sharing income-making with my boyfriend, and he makes the bulk of what we need for bills and fun things. Because I switched from a high-ticket industry (web design and development) to a somewhat high ticket but mostly lower ticket industry (coaching and teaching), my income is still adjusting.

(Which means that I have days when I wonder if this was really the best idea — to follow my path — because the temporary uncertainty is fucking awful and I hate it.)

This recent industry switch is particularly hard on days when I reminisce about how I used to be the breadwinner, on account of the bigger-ticket stuff I was selling. But then I remember why I needed to stop, and I feel better.

2. We (all of us doing what we love) have cycles of business and income.

This is not just common, it’s NORMAL.

Some months are way above average, and we either catch up on stuff that fell behind in the last few slow months, or we spend it all because we are shit at planning ahead, or we sock some away for the next few slow months (whenever that happens to be).

3. Most of us are not good with money yet, for a few reasons.

We may have come from a situation in which everything was always hard, so we are afraid of never having enough, and this affects our ability to hold onto money when we have more than enough — because having enough is not in our realm of normal.

We may have come from a situation in which every paycheck was the same and the expenses were predictable, and now that we’re in a cyclical income situation it totally fucks with our ability to plan anything for the future — which leads to a number of frustrating or straight-up unhealthy behaviors around money: refusing to spend any, spending too much, being angry when the thought of spending it comes up, and so on.

We may have come from a dysfunctional family where one of the markers of the aftermath of horrible violence and abuse was ‘let’s all go out for dinner and pretend to be normal’ — which gives dinner out, and other special-feeling things, a much greater emotional weight; and in turn, skews our ability to make rational budget-friendly choices about spending money when we are feeling sad, upset, or depressed. This one here is more me than the other two, since I’m being honest with you.

Don’t, for one second, believe that the apparent success of others has anything much to do with what’s really going on with them.

And don’t, for one second, compare yourself to anyone else’s shiny exterior.

My exteriors are VERY shiny, because I used to be a professional web designer, and I’m still a damn good marketer. I know that I need to create an environment and a feeling that is attractive to my right people. If you’re not my right person, but you still like to hang around me, you could fall prey to believing hype about me that you yourself are making up.

DON’T DO THIS. You are a perfect one-of-a-kind businessperson. I’ll give you advice. I’ll teach you some best practices. But I would never tell you to ‘be more like that person over there’, because that is bullshit.

In the spirit of no-bullshit, I’d like to tell you that the class I opened two days ago has one person in it, and I AM FUCKING JAZZED AS HELL ABOUT THIS.

Would I have liked thirty or forty people registered by now? Of course I would.

Was I hoping to fill the class to overflowing and have money coming out my ears by now? Of course I was.

But the reality is that I don’t use bullshit marketing tactics, so I’m not going to scare people into making a too-quick decision, and I’m not going to convince people to BUY NOW OMG because I would never say that in a sales page (unless it was a joke), and slow marketing is better for me all around.

Down with bullshit. Up with truth. And up with doing things the right way for YOU.

*drops mic and exits stage left*

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Lessons learned from packaging my services

by Rhiannon on May 3, 2013

This was originally published by yours truly in February 2012. I’ve lightly edited and am offering it to you again.

Once upon a time (back in the dark ages), I opened my virtual doors and hung out my shingle as a web designer.

Dinglehopper.It was exciting! It was scary! And, despite how hard I worked at my services page, it was kind of confusing for my potential clients.

Do you offer this? they would ask, and I would reply yes I do! And then I would find a way to add it to my list of services without making the list overwhelmingly long.

What about this, can I have this and those too? How much is that? they would ask next, and I would reply of course you can, and then I’d spend some time with my calculator and give them the price.

Very soon, it became obvious to me that I needed not just a list of things I did, but also a list of which things went together and how much it would cost to get that combination of things.

It was good, this exercise of exploring the needs and curiosities of my potential customers. I began to understand something deeper about their reasons for coming to me, and how they perceived my offerings.

And so lesson number one was this: putting my services into packages helped me understand the needs and desires that brought my customers to my business.

In order to make my services clearer to my potential customers, I reduced the list of things I offered to what was the most asked-for, and put a new list of packages together that combined (I hoped) the things that usually went together, and put prices on everything.

Then I waited for my customers to knock down my door and flood my Paypal account with money, because obviously the packages were what they wanted.

While I waited for Paypal notifications, I was still answering questions like Do you offer this? and What about these things? and What if I need this but not that? It was familiar, the question-and-answer dance. I replied Of course! and Let’s talk about it some more. I put together custom quotes like usual, although now I had a better short-hand for quoting things that went together.

Lesson number two was this: putting my things in packages gave me a vocabulary for answering common questions from my potential customers, so that I could be more efficient in communicating with them.

Putting packages together reminded me that I knew what I was talking about.

The process of putting them together reminded me of the kind of value, both the obvious kind and the intrinsic not-so-obvious kind, that I brought to my work, which in turn made it easier to have those peripheral, ongoing conversations.

Which leads to lesson number three: people hardly ever click the BUY button without asking questions first, even if what they see is exactly what they want.

In my experience as a service provider for the past five plus years, it has been the strange paradox of my Shop & Services page that has taught me the most about provider-customer interaction.

1. Customers want to see what you’ve done.
2. Customers want to see what you can do.
3. Customers want to get an idea about what they might ask you to do.
4. Customers want to feel like the thing they buy from you is just for them, which means that:
5. Customers want to ask you questions before they make a decision.

And so lesson number four is that packages are good for your business, but not in the way you think.

Packages do not make it easier for your customers to buy directly off the services page.

Packages do not automatically make buying from you an easy decision.

Packages make you a better customer service provider.

Packages make you better at anticipating needs and desires and potential roadblocks in your customer’s decision-making process.

Packages are part of the building process of your own business, and part of the window dressing that shows potential customers what you’re about and what you know you can do for them.

Do you need packages?

No. And yes. It depends on what you need them for, and that’s the paradox.

Business is full of these beautiful paradoxes and accidental teachable moments. It’s a blessing to have the experience of building a business, yes?

I’d love to hear your own paradoxes and teachable moments in the comments.

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Excellence versus Perfectionism

April 26, 2013

Excellence is the practice of doing your best, all the time. Excellence is pushing yourself to the brink and beyond, in the name of your great work. Excellence means tying up the loose ends, following the trail your customers take to be sure they won’t get lost. Excellence means thinking about and speaking about your […]

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Grateful for the pain.

December 18, 2012

This post is a part of the Soul Salon, a monthly discussion of the topics that move our Spirit. For a list of this month’s Soul Salon posts check out the full line up here. In particular, this post is my tiny part of the universal tribute to the victims and families involved in the […]

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In silence and solitude is your strength.

December 13, 2012
Thumbnail image for In silence and solitude is your strength.

A significant portion of my childhood was spent in the protestant church, in a small, Quaker-like Plymouth Brethren assembly every Sunday. There was an attitude of silence, and a general mien of sacredness in solitude. We sat in our rows of chairs, silently thinking or meditating, reflecting on ourselves, our families, our spirituality. “In returning […]

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