How many times have you made the excuse about the carpenter’s door, or the cobbler’s shoes when it comes to your own website and marketing efforts?
When we make these excuses we usually chalk it up to not having enough time. But I don’t think the problem is lack of time. I think it’s because, when it comes to marketing our own services, we don’t know what to do.
Let’s drop the excuses and own the fact that if we are going to be professional creative entrepreneurs we have to own the task of marketing. We can, and must set aside a few hours per week to execute a consistent marketing plan. But let’s assume that we’re resolved to do this. What are you going to do with these handful of hours, when you sit down to engage in marketing? Write another fruitless blog post? Drop a few comments on social media? Have any of these efforts ever clearly led to a new client?
The problem with your marketing efforts is not so much that you don’t know what to do, in fact writing a blog post and engaging on social media is a significant part of a solid marketing plan. The problem is with the substance of your efforts. The problem is with your strategy, or lack thereof.
Once you have a clear vision informing your strategy, the actual effort to write a post, or send an email, or build a following in social media is the easy part. Getting that clear strategy is the hard part.
That’s why positioning is such a fundamental part of marketing. Positioning is the basis for a focused vision. When you have done the hard work of defining a narrow positioning statement everything about marketing gets easier and more effective. Let’s run an experiment to see how this works. Let’s try to come up with a list of topics for a blog from the perspective of a generalist. What kinds of topics might you write about? You could write about the importance of design, or great photography, or about some interesting examples that have inspired you lately. Perhaps you can talk about the importance of branding (because none of your competitors have ever written about that before).
The problem with generalist content strategy is that you can say just about anything, to anyone, and it will impact just about no one. It doesn’t take long for a generalist to tire of writing weak blog posts that don’t engage anyone. That’s why the blogs of most creatives start off with a few posts in the first few months, and drop to once a month, and once every few months, and then crickets. I’ve seen the pattern literally thousands of times.
But now let’s consider the content strategy of someone who has narrowly positioned themselves as a specialist in what they do, who they do it for, and how it benefits them. Let’s change perspectives and pretend that we’re a professional photographer specializing in shooting food for manufacturers of consumer brands. That’s pretty narrow. But what might you write about? I don’t know anything about this space, but I can imagine that I could write about some of the techniques I use to capture the essence of flavor through staging and lighting. I might demonstrate how different approaches, based on a specialized knowledge of the competitive landscape of food products on supermarket shelves helps you to make your clients products stand out.
And once I’ve written up some of these specialized insights, it will be pretty easy for me to identify marketing directors at food manufacturing companies to reach out to with these insights.
Positioning transforms the fruitless marketing efforts of the generalist into the valuable and effective content strategy of the specialist. And once you have a clear direction, getting the message out is likewise simplified. And in next week’s episode I’ll share some practical and simple steps you can take to get your insights in front of an audience that cares.
Until then: don’t let the business of creativity overwhelm your creative business.