Did “Marketing” Killed Your Fire For Your Business? (aka, Death By Marketing)

Have you had this experience… you started out doing something in your business with passion, with fire. You tried to do it justice by learning all the business and marketing stuff on how to make it work, make it better, make it reach more people, make it make you a living… etc. (Whatever that training program sales page tried to convince you…) A few months later, you find yourself in a rut, chasing your tail on the hamster wheel but no longer know why the heck you are doing that for.

It has happened to me, and I think it’s time for us to go about it differently.

Most of us get into what we do because of our passion for the “craft” – regardless of what results you deliver, whom you serve, and how you do it. We started a business so we can do what we do best and do it the way we see best without others telling us what to do and how to do it.

We did not start our businesses (along with the stress, the “uncertainty” and the foregoing of health insurance) just so we can market our businesses.

We started our businesses because we are passionate about what we do (e.g. a specific process of coaching, an expertise topic, the tools, and knowledge… the “geek” stuff.) We started our businesses because we want to express ourselves and share our gifts through something that we can (theoretically, at least!) have complete control over so we don’t have to compromise our message, our integrity, our truth.

We want to make our lives about something we stand for…
We want our lives to be more than punching the clock.

Yet, after a while, probably a few trainings and programs later, taken with the intention of furthering our business so we can spread our message and help more people, we realize slowly but surely how our expression, interaction and decisions has become more and more driven by what we were “told” to be “marketing best practice” than by our individual vision and superpower (as in, our  expertise, secret sauce, experience and unique process that actually help our clients achieve results.)

We made ourselves follow some canned processes that require us to cut off our limbs so we can fit into a “tried-and-true” box. We become stifled by “blueprints”, and if we don’t yield the “results as advertised” we conclude that there is something wrong with us, or we are just not good enough. (So we went onto purchasing more of these trainings, further stifling our originality, draw us down the comparison trap and somehow, make us feel even more inadequate!)

We were told, training after training and program after program to SHUT THE HELL UP about your process and just talk about the “results”, the “benefits.” We were told that nobody cares about our “process”, our “tools” – essentially, our passion for our “crafts” – our superpower, our secret sauce. In fact, this is said over and over again so frequently that it is accepted as “truth” – hey, when was the last time it was being questioned and challenged?

Is denying our pride for our process sabotaging our success?

Have we ever thought that being told over and over again to shut up about our process, tools and “how we create results” because “people will just glaze over” is sending our subconscious a message that our passion for our “craft” is not important? That nobody cares? That we should leave it at the door so we can create canned marketing messages that “people will understand” – because you are aiming for the lowest common denominator?

How is this different from being told to leave your dream at the office door and get settled in the cubicle? (At least, you get health insurance, appear to be “gainfully employed” and don’t have to fumble when explaining what you do at the cocktail party!)

What if we can MAKE OUR PROCESS OUR MESSAGE?

Humor me, just ask… What if?

What if we can geek out about what we do, how we do it, AND make it magnetic to our ideal clients? What if, we can have our cake and eat it too?

Here is what I know: It is much easier to find your passion and then wrap some marketing content around it, than to find something hopefully marketable and then make yourself get truly passionate about it. You are not a used car salesman. Picking a “niche” because others tell you that it will work, is not going to work for the long-run.

What if, you can lead with your “craft”, then package and position your passions and superpowers in their fullest glory into marketable and profitable offerings without leaving any part of YOU behind?

What if you don’t have to cut off an arm and a leg
so you can stuff yourself into the “marketing box”?

Imagine your passion for your “craft” – the process, the tools, the knowledge – is a beach ball. By nature, a fully-inflated happily-filled beach ball floats. Many marketing trainings tell you to push the beach ball down and keep it underwater because “most stuff sink”! Hmm, let’s make the beach ball “sink” so it can “fit in”. If it’s happily inflated, you will have to keep pushing it and keep pushing it so it stays down. The moment you stop fighting it pops up and you feel you have failed the task. Eventually you get tired of pushing it down 24/7 so you DEFLATE the beach ball by letting your passion go. The sadly deflated beach ball sinks, and fits in.

Have you lost the fire by denying certain aspects of your passion? To get out of the rut, you look for more programs and trainings – getting sucked into quick fixes with big promises. You keep banging your head at it and think that somehow you can find that spark from outside of you. Like, someone is going to hand it to you on a silver platter for $297.

Yet those trainings keep telling you to shut up about your passion for your “craft”… and slowly but surely, you drink the kool-aid and instead of questioning what’s going on and what is true for you, you follow the instruction, do the homework, get lost in the shuffle and water down your voice.

I know an awesome spiritual mentor who was once told to “put her anger and rage away” by a “marketing guru” because “it won’t sell.” She struggled for a long time with some watered-down messages. Luckily, she found another mentor who encouraged her to put it all out there. She launched a program called “Rage To Riches” – yes, she is SELLING the raging and angry part of her – and now she is raking in 5-figures a month now.

Instead of stifling our unique blend of process, tools, knowledge and experience, what if we can MAKE OUR PROCESS OUR MESSAGE and use “marketing” to make it work for our business – expression of us?

Yes, we may still be “opening the door” with some “results and benefits”, but what about the next layer? Are people really going to pay you the big bucks if you sound just like your competition? What makes YOU special? What makes your potential clients choose you instead of someone who makes the same “lose 10 pounds and feel energized” promise?

Everyone is having a variation of the same “elevator speech” – same “talk about the benefits, the frustration and hey don’t forget about the fears!” What makes you different is not replacing a few words and call it a day.

What differentiates YOU is your process, what you actually do to create results for your clients – YOUR way. Your unique process is not some “x-month program” handed to you by your coaching school or other training programs.

You cannot buy some “signature program” off the shelve, squish yourself into the box and make yourself “work for” that program outline because you think you are not good enough or you don’t know enough to create your very own process. (Those materials do have a place in helping you get up and running faster and easier, but the foundation of your business should not be built on mindlessly regurgitating these materials.)

Your process is a gem that is a crystallization of all your passions, knowledge, tools, life experience, value, gifts and superpower. It is YOU as the whole package.

I have read enough sales pages to tell you that I don’t give a hoot about the “benefits” anymore because they say pretty much the same thing… “x clients in 30 days!” “6-figure business in x months!”… I buy because of the person behind the copy. I want to know what she stands for, what tools she has at her disposal, how she approaches the subject matter, how she delivers her materials – because during the process is where results and magic happens. I want to know that this person I am working with is not regurgitating something I have heard before, some cookie-cutter system others are also regurgitating.

When I land on a coaching/training program sales page, sometimes I know within 10 seconds that I have to join that program without finish reading the first paragraph. Why? I can sense the energy of the author and know instantly if it’s something original, something with GUTS, something that is a good fit for me.

Your potential clients can sense your energy, passion and enthusiasm through your communication – even if it’s only written words. If you don’t write about something you are completely passionate about, if you dole out some canned, watered-down stuff, how can you expect your readers to “feel you” – to get inspired enough to work with you?

Broad stroke promises on just the results and benefits are not enough to communicate the kind of truthfulness to establish the trust you need to make meaningful connections.

Here is the irony. I have seen quite a few “certification programs” that train coaches to deliver business and marketing coaching. Guess what they are selling – yes, the PROCESS! They are selling the process (what some later turned into a signature system) that turns around and tell us, hey stop talking about your process! No one cares about the process… but apparently droves of people care enough to shell out thousands of dollars to get certified. Hmmm…. let’s just think about that for a moment, ok?

A lot of business coaches also advocate creating a signature system. So it’s about the process, right? In my opinion, signature system is a great marketing communication tool because when done right, it succinctly tells people what you do and how you do it – tying the process to the benefits/desired outcomes. HOW YOU DO IT. Yep – the process.

Don’t get me wrong, I love marketing and I approach it as an art form – a form of self-expression. Not the canned version that plays “Simon Says.” Marketing communication is about understanding who you want to serve, and how you serve them then communicate it so your ideal clients understand the value you deliver (simple, right?)

Who is to say that your process – which is a crystallization of all your passions, knowledge, tools, life experiences, value, gifts and superpower – is not an important part of your message? I would want to know these things before I decide to pay a load of money and hire someone!

If you can’t fully accept all of you and put all your uniqueness out there; if you hide behind canned, watered down “results” that you *think* people want to hear – how can you expect others to fully accept and embrace your genius?

***

Let’s look at what I do as an example. I can just list some benefits on my sales page – “results” that thousands of other “business coaches” promise – like, building a 6-figure business, 5x your list in 90 days, get 10 clients in 30 days, or any variation of those – then call it a day. It’s easy, and “they” say it works.

But wait! Making those promises is actually antithetical to my process! Here is why:

Let me first tell you my deceptively simple 3 steps process (of course, there is a lot more nuances but I won’t bore you with the actual tools and how I deploy my superpowers):

  1. Slap you in the face so you can see your stories, preconceptions, limiting beliefs, fears and the likes. We are basically shining the light on the box you have been stuffed in, and acknowledging that yes, there is a box.
  2. Open up possibilities by looking at everything from a different perspective and ask questions – challenge the “what is” by putting your desires and superpower first. It’s like I take a knife and cut slits and windows in your box so you can see the blue sky and green grass outside.
  3. Ride the Clarity and Action Upward Spiral by getting some clarity enough for you to take action at the right direction – building a sustainable and profitable business that is a full expression of you. Through making decision to take further actions, you are required to clarify your thoughts and choose intentionally – revealing yet another layer of clarity. (Of course, I am here to make sure you do choose intentionally!)

Look at step #2 – opening up possibilities. We examine everything based on your truth we UNcover. A client may come in saying she wants to be a coach but as we examine everything about her, her superpower and her truth, we may realize that she are NOT meant to be a coach! (See the stories of my clients K1 and K2 here)

If I “promise” all my clients will walk out with a “thriving coaching business” (the results/benefits), we might have jumped into the conclusion that the client has to build a coaching business and neglect to look at all aspects of her so she can find the truest expression of herself through her business.

If I made that inflexible “promise” and were “selfish” enough to squeeze my clients through a cookie-cutter assembly line so they will walk out with a predetermined outcome at the expense of how well they can sustain that outcome (and be truly fulfilled) – I would be doing my clients a disservice.

I suppose I can say I will help you find your truest expression through your business and make a generous income doing so. That is the outcome, but because each client is different, this result can be manifested in many different ways – what is true for you is not true for the other person.

This “promise” is not really “specific” and I would imagine if someone were to pay me a good chunk of change for my coaching, they would want to know how I get to the results. How would I guide her? Want tools do I have at my disposal? What can she expect during this journey? Would I be using processes and tools that she have already tried and doesn’t work for her personality? Does she resonate with what I will be taking her through? Does she resonate with me?

A broad-stroke promise of the “outcome” can’t answer those questions, and doesn’t help me communicate the unique experience I deliver as a coach, a guide, a fellow explorer.

All that aside, I guess I just like to say “I will first slap you in the face and UNdo the box you have put yourself in”. I would imagine that it catches your attention more than some generic “build a successful business” promise because there is personality, passion and uniqueness in it, right?

Please, stop cutting off your limbs just so you can stuff yourself into the arbitrary box called “marketing” as prescribed by others.

>> Ready to get a good slap in the face and see where you are tying yourself down? Give me 30-min and see what magic we can make together.

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