Photo: Thiebaud Faix
A number of readers noticed something ‘weird’ in my previous post and got in touch. They all had the exact same question too. Here’s the post. I thought I’d share it with you, along with my answer and a powerful marketing lesson.
They wanted to know, how come a fellow marketing professional was attending, and asking me questions, at a marketing talk I gave to business owners. After all, she already knows how marketing works and we’re competitors. Right?
When I started my business in the mid 1990’s, I chose to adopt a zero-competition approach to my local marketing counterparts and embrace them instead. That’s to say, I intentionally decided to be as useful as possible to them.
More than this, I also chose to proactively seek out opportunities to help them flourish, to open doors for them, to share new ideas and strategies I’d developed with them, to connect them with useful people, etc.
I was only in my 20’s at the time. Many said I was young and naive.
I saw it differently.
My approach to marketing from day one, has been to help business owners achieve outstanding results, using creative marketing ideas… not marketing money. As a new business owner from a very poor background, I had no way to out-spend established marketing providers. If I wanted to get noticed, I needed to do things creatively. I needed to be meaningfully different. I needed to zig, when the ‘competition’ was zagging.
And it worked
Amazingly quickly, too.
The local marketing community was soon talking about me and talking with me. They were very aware that I’d only been around for 5 minutes, yet had gained a lot of what we used to call ‘buzz’. They wanted to know what I was about. What I was doing. Why I was doing it. Soon, this new kid on the block was being invited to speak at events by local banks, accountancy firms and government agencies. The clients quickly followed. Around 6 months after starting my business, it had reached my year 3 income goal. Without a penny spent on advertising. Without a single competing provider.
Throughout my career, massively more marketing professionals have hired me and recommended me, than people from any other industry. They’re also, by far, the biggest share of my readership. They can see that I do things very differently. For instance, they notice that I don’t use SEO in my blog posts. They notice that I don’t have (or need) a Linkedin account. They notice I don’t do guest blogging, attend industry events or send sales emails to my subscribers.
Marketing professionals notice all the signals. They notice them, because they’re trained to. They can see me walking the walk. So they follow my work, they ask me questions and the super-smart ones hire me.
You and your business
There are as many creative ways to market your business, as their are stars in the sky (well, maybe not quite that many, but I love the image it paints).
Throwing money at advertising is easy, but it’s expensive in a number of ways. Yes, there’s the cost of the advertisements. But there’s also the cost of suddenly losing your advertising sales leads, when agile competitors identify where you’re advertising, then wipe you out, with better ads or more ads. It’s very easy for them to do and you won’t know it’s coming, until it’s happened.
And as many of you will have already discovered, general marketing advice available via webinars and online marketing courses doesn’t work. It can’t work, because everyone’s already using those same general strategies and ideas. You’re simply camouflaging yourself amongst the millions of others.
That’s the exact opposite of gaining attention. It’s the opposite of what you need.
To start with, it’s very hard to copy. It sets you apart for all the right reasons. It gets people talking about your business, so you don’t have to. It stops you from needing to sell based on price. It gets you noticed. There are many other great reasons, but you get the gist.
And importantly, it’s also a spectacularly enjoyable way to build a fan-frickin-tastic business.