It’s all about offering value and creating change
Since I started building CoachOiseau Life & Leadership Coaching back in January, 2018, I’ve become a passionate student of the field of marketing. I’m convinced that great marketing is what allows individuals to create change in the world.
Marketing, like sales, tends to get a bad rap. But at its core, marketing is simply a way of communicating ideas of value to the people they benefit.
One of the best books I’ve read on the subject to date is Michael Port’s Book Yourself Solid, which delivers a great blend of strategic and tactical advice for people marketing their services. But it can also teach you how to market yourself whether it’s for a job you want, a relationship you’d love to have, or any other interpersonal endeavour.
We’re going to dive into five of Book Yourself Solid’s strategies – Direct Outreach, Networking, Referral Marketing, Speaking and Writing – and how you can apply them to your own life in order to get what you want or create the change you’d like to see.
Direct Outreach: the lifeblood of your cause
Direct outreach, or “reaching out directly,” is at the heart of every kind of marketing push. It’s the guy who stops you and asks for a donation to the Red Cross, the girl on the phone who asks if you’d like to renew your museum subscription, or the person who asks you for spare change on the side of the road.
Obviously, not all of these people and their offerings are equally compelling to you. And that’s OK! There will be many times in your life where you’ll be approached by someone who’s got something you want nothing to do with.
And guess what? You’ll say no to these people. But that won’t always be the case.
When you approach someone with an opportunity that’s valuable to them, you’ll start to hear the word “yes” as a response.
When you’ve had a stellar career and you approach a company you’d like to work for, most of the time that company you’re speaking to will be listening intently to you. If they see you as a great addition to their team, why wouldn’t they?
Direct outreach is how most businesses are built in the early stages. It’s how I filled my first group coaching program, From Undergrad to After Grad. By directly contacting the people I thought would benefit the most from the program, the program got off the ground and (as of this writing) is moving forward.
Once you gain some direct outreach traction, these other strategies below become much easier to implement.
Networking: not as painful as it seems
A lot of people cringe when they hear the word “networking.” It can conjure up images of awkward conversations, people bragging about themselves, and the exchange of business cards that end up filling your recycling bin.
This is not what networking has to be! Book Yourself Solid offers a great mindset shift around marketing, and while I won’t go into as much detail here as the book does, here’s the gist of the strategy:
- Be curious about the people you meet
- Build real relationships
- Offer concrete help, if you can
Great networking is about being in service to the people you encounter. It’s a long-term game that should see both parties benefit from their connection.
The next time you’re meeting someone at a networking event, make the encounter about them. Ask them questions about what their goals are, and listen carefully to the stories they tell. If you can connect a solution (a referral to someone who can help, a service or product you offer, an insightful business idea, etc.) to their problems and needs, you’ll instantly begin building a relationship based on trust.
These relationships can be mutually beneficial over time. They might one day refer you to someone who will help solve your problems, or recommend your service to someone else.
It all starts with going out and making connections in a way that helps others move forward and believe in your ability to help effectively.
Referral marketing: when your raving fans help you grow
When I wrap up successful engagements with clients, I ask them if they can think of anyone they know who might also benefit from the kind of work we’ve done together. This is a mutually beneficial question to ask.
On my end, it can create opportunities to do more work with people who are ideally suited for the services I provide. This, of course, helps me grow my business.
When a client introduces me to another prospective client, the client’s relationship with the prospect helps to buy some early trust for me. That little bump in trust at the beginning can go a long way toward reaching a deal for future work.
How does the referring client benefit from helping me out, you might ask? Connecting their own friends to a beneficial service is an act of giving: it’s actually helpful to their own social circle.
Think about the last time you raved to one of your friends about a great restaurant you went to. Why did you do that?
There’s a variety of answers to this question, but one of them is likely this: you subconsciously wanted to add value to their lives. After all, they are your friends and you’d love to help your friends, right?
If you find yourself single and you ask your friends to set you up with someone on a blind date, that’s a referral. When you’re looking for a job and you ask people in your network if they’ve heard of any opportunities, you’re asking them to refer you to a job.
Referrals are a powerful way to leverage your connections and expand your reach. Don’t ignore this strategy when you’re marketing yourself for anything!
Speaking: it’s never been easier
Whether it’s to 5 or 5000 people, speaking in front of an audience is a valuable opportunity to market yourself.
Speaking is a bold form of marketing because of its live and sometimes unforgiving nature. But when you speak well and communicate a message of value, you can quickly build connections with a large number of people. Some of these people may be quite interested in helping you, hiring you, meeting with you further, etc.
In this day and age, speaking can take place in many different forms. Yes, you can get up on a stage and talk into a microphone to a massive crowd, but you can also operate on a scale that’s far less daunting and more personal.
Going “live” on social media. Starting a podcast (stay tuned, because I’ll be launching one in the coming weeks!). Standing up to present a developmental topic to your peers in a small group setting: these are all forms of marketing through speaking.
In a couple of taps on your smartphone, you can be in front of an audience. If you’re able to articulate your ideas well in conversations, you can almost certainly become a good speaker. It takes practice, but putting yourself out there as a speaker is a quick way to demonstrate to people the kind of person you are and the sorts of help you can provide.
Writing: the enduring way of standing out
The written word is a powerful marketing medium. When done well, it helps to establish the author as a trusted authority in their space.
Although it takes a while to produce a body of work that pays the reputational dividends the author may desire, the reward can be everlasting.
Just think about Shakespeare, Lincoln, Da Vinci and Einstein…we’re a long way from forgetting about these folks! Oh, and J.K. Rowling…she’s not going to fade away anytime soon, either.
Another reason writing is such a powerful form of personal marketing is because of how deeply you can share yourself. Longer forms of writing can reveal how strong your knowledge of a subject matter is. Over time, it can reveal how you’re evolving as a person.
Having a personal blog or writing a regular column in a publication can help you build an audience of fans. And some of these fans may seek you out for an opportunity when the time is right.
It pays to develop a writing habit. You’ll gradually be able to spread ideas more articulately and with a greater reach. When it comes time to expressing your points of view (say…in a job interview), you’ll be more confident in your delivery and your personal brand will be much stronger.
Building a marketing habit
Marketing yourself is a process, not an event.
If you’re committed to building your profile in any way, think about these five strategies and how you might be able to employ them in your life.
Meet people, build relationships, and provide value in everything you do, and you’ll start to see opportunities present themselves.
Whether you want more job offers, more dates, more closed sales…it doesn’t matter! Marketing is the engine that will power you forward: it’s a habit that will completely change your life.
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