marketing

Mark(et)ing Happiness

Not enough money, not enough time. The scarcity model, when it comes to running your creative enterprise, and your life, is over.

 

If you haven't already noticed, you can get a LOT online, for free. This blog post is not about accumulating free stuff, but points out and asks why much of our consumer market has veered in two directions: incredibly, exorbitantly expensive, or basically free.

 

A dear friend passed along a killer article about happiness, via the Atlantic. Absolutely worth a read. I "don't have enough time" these days to read long articles, but I made time for this one and it was worth it.

I’ll also link these ideas to self promotion and the artist conundrum: 
self promotion is scary, money might be bad - or is it good?
I’m not good enough, or I’m so good that I don’t need to promote.

 

The summarized point: Scarcity isn't just a term in economics. It's also a mindset. And lately, a number of the most successful companies and industries in the world gauge their collective success on two things: is the creative process enjoyable? And is my team passionate about their work. 

art by cristina rusu.

art by cristina rusu.

These two values are the exact opposite of scarcity. They speak to opportunity, freedom of choice, and an increased value for good work (people's work gets better when they enjoy their work, and more likely than not, they master that work as a result = increased value), and giving away information with the objective to help others, also increases (back to point about our economy's fork in the road).

 

I'm writing about this not because I had an 'ah ha' moment but rather because I have long shared this perspective: there's plenty of everything (but don't waste), and do what makes you happy. Always. Period.

 

I also link these ideas to self promotion and the artist conundrum: self promotion is scary, money might be bad - or is it good?, I'm not good enough, or I'm so good that I don't need to promote. As a creative person, you have an infinite affinity to make. And as a creative person, you have an affinity to make because you feel something as a result. Mostly, you feel good. Self promotion and 'marketing' your work might feel in conflict with the euphoria, or ecstatic state. 

 

But it doesn't have to. Let your experience of happiness move into the promotional space. Share that with the rest of the world. You don't need to give away what you do, and you don't need to extremely price it. 

 

But you must share work and it's happiness. You must get rid of this idea that promotion is bad - or that you don't have enough time, or enough resources, or enough anything. That model is dead.

Leave This Trail Behind

I've worked in sales. Not the car sales type gig, but the media sales type gig. At times, this position was as lowly, petty, predatory, and even humiliating as one who's never done sales, can imagine. Then there were other sales roles (I got to be a sales 'director' at one point :)), which I found satisfying, engaging and confidence-building. These were better.

Fast forward to now, and in the last two weeks I've had not only been approached by my previous employer for a role in sales but by another media agency, today. 

And it felt terrible. The offer was introduced vaguely in an email. The writer is someone I've known in the field for a few years and I think we've grown to respect one another. In writing, she didn't initially state the type of job, just suggested I might be interested in some work.

Then I made an assumption. I assumed she'd done a little digging. At least looked at my profiles online; seen I was fully engaged with my current work. I think so far my content demonstrates that I'm not only happy but that I'm employed in marketing. 

In my head I began creating all types of scenarios: her media company could contract with me. We would work out a retainer deal. I'd get to execute my big ideas with their big clients. I'd add so much and in turn learn and grow!

Aw, so sweet.

Then. We met. For a whopping 20 minutes. She asked about my work. I told her. She asked if I was happy. I responded with a resounding yes. She frowned in disappointment and the meeting fell flat. Sure, I pitched my latest work. My skill set. Delivered what I love doing and why.

And then she asked me why I don't want to be in sales anymore.

And let's be clear. I use sales almost every day. I used sales with my neighbor as we exchanged plants. I use sales with my landlord to get off-street parking. I use sales every single time I log on to social media and tell my followers what I'm up to. 

I actually really like sales. 

So I told her: To be honest, there are so many other things that...I'm better at...that make me happy. At the end of the say, I was never proud to say I was in sales.

She nodded. Gave me a tour of their new office.

Maybe she'll keep me in mind. Maybe. I left and felt defeated because the wild scenarios in my head (albeit, totally realistic) couldn't have been further from her goals.

So I came home and debated a run. But a client call pulled me back into work-mode and suddenly I was doing research again and came across this: two of my favorite business leaders, sharing an interview. 

Seth Godin explains to Marie Forleo:

there is no perfect scenario; your fate or your purpose is ultimately a decision about commitment. The opportunities are like a carousel. They're going by you every single day. They were going by when you were 15, they were going by when you were 26. But if you didn't hop on that damn horse and ride, then they just passed by.  

So to hell with someone who doesn't want to leverage what I love. Moving on. I've hopped on and I keep moving. 

"...If you leave this trail behind of thoughtful examination of your world, you can't help but get better at what you seek to do." - seth godin.

 

Proving People Wrong

Fast Company article link, here: https://www.fastcompany.com/most-creative-people/2018

Reese Witherspoon makes big budget female-centric films, Lyft's new VP of marketing raises $5 million dollars for charities and steals market share from Uber, and Vishal Shah makes it possible to use Instagram as a storefront.

Anyone can have a good idea. 

Implementation is the hard part.

 

'She turned Gone Girl and Wild into breakout films and followed them up with HBO’s Big Little Lies, sweeping nearly every category for which it was nominated at the 2017 Emmys. Having spent years hearing from studio executives that there was no market for big-budget female-driven content, Reese Witherspoon has succeeded to a degree that proves a hunger is there. “Fortunately,” says Witherspoon, “I like proving people wrong.” '

https://www.fastcompany.com/most-creative-people/2018

 

 

 

What Stealing Looks Like

This 4th of July holiday I made a new friend who works for Hearst communications. She's hustled hard to get her place as editor for a bike and running publication, and when we began following each other on Instagram, passing one of the many phases of the 21st-century friendship, I commented in faux (but secretly real) jealousy of her 2k+ followers.

 

In her profession, companies like Nike, Lulu Lemon, and Oakley not only send her **free** items but at events, press photographers take her stellar photo which she can, in turn, can post to her account. As you can imagine, the photos look pro (plus, she doesn't sell out for free stuff!) and the Instagram-presentation is what you're familiar with if you've spent even 5 minutes on the app.

 

What's important here, is I found this new friend to be a real, down to earth, modest person. She's a killer athlete, sure, but doesn't arrive with ego or self-importance.

 

Somehow we got to talking about her discovery and acceptance of the immediate reaction she began to receive from her followers each time she posted photos of...herself. The numbers were and remain, greater. Then she said something along the lines of: "People like the pictures, so I post them." This light observation can seem obvious but my marketing mind can't stop but thinking about it.  

 

What Molly experienced is what Seth Godin writes about'Nobody says, "That Yo Yo Ma, he’s so self-promotional," or, "can you believe what a self-promoter the Dalai Lama is?" That’s because they’re not promoting themselves. They’re promoting useful ideas. They’re promoting tactics or products that actually benefit the person they’re reaching out to.'

 

Ok, ok. I'm not comparing my friend to the Dalai Lama! And photos of her aren't necessarily helping others, but those photos certainly aren't hurting anyone. More importantly, she's posting not to self-promote, but rather because her audience responds with affirmation. 

 

"Give the people what they want" comes to mind.

 

I can't get this simple and obvious lesson out of my marketing mind. In my past and previous clients, I find an incessant fear. The fear stems from not 'getting' social media, and then grows powerfully out towards ideas that self-promotion is selfish and more commonly narcissistic (admittedly, I relate).

 

But what the hell are we waiting for? We want a bigger business, we want more people to know about us, and we want our audience to like what we sell.

 

I can't articulate this final point as well as Marie Forleo, a killer-instinct-businesswoman who you need to check out if you've not already. Repeatedly, she teaches her business approach along these lines: "If your audience doesn't know what you offer, you're essentially robbing them of your experience."

Popularizing Christianity

I don't know much about David Brooks. His name is familiar and if I take 30 seconds, the internet reminds me that he writes a column in the NYTimes. I've also heard him on NPR, and maybe PBS. If I still regularly tuned into PBS.

But I'm not writing so much about the career of David Brooks as I am about his life's work (there is, in fact, a difference). And his life's work is relevant to my career work because his life work is about marketing complex ideas to the mainstream world.

Growing up, I was raised, in part, by the son of a minister. The denomination isn't important so much as, one I'm still not a religious person, and two, our life was laced with religious ideas and values, morals, ponderings, etc. We didn't go to church frequently, but morality was big in our household and with a father who was not only the son of a minister but also a man of science, evolution was frequently a topic in addition to religion. 

The point: I found it interesting, even at such an age, that religion was so...sticky. Kids, like myself, didn't really get it, nor were we going to read a bible to ease our understanding. Before I understood how many children's books existed (those I hadn't seen obviously did not exist!) I remember suggesting: what about a book telling the story of Adam and Eve, but for kids. And it should additionally explain evolution. All content would be in kid-speak but the core, sticky stuff would also be presented. It was sort of like a book for meeting in the middle.

Back to David Brooks. He takes complex ideas and popularizes them for the mainstream such as Christianity and other impenetrable subjects. My 5-year-old brain had no idea what 'popularize' meant, nor of any streams except those behind our house. But I think I was kinda' talking about the same thing as Brooks.

And today, reading the opening paragraph of this article, I thought about my most complex client: highly skilled, talented, experienced architect and designer, who needs to popularize deeply intellectual work. This clients wants and needs to distill their ideas for the mainstream public. 

Why? Because they like many, want to grow business by acquiring more customers, and they like many struggle with the same problem as other firms: the mainstream customer does not typically understand the inner workings of a deeply intellectual artist.

And here there's a tug of war: does popularizing mean cheapening? Does popularizing mean omitting? But the tug of war can be a dance; there can exist fluidity in the communication between your brilliance, your creative genius, your spark, and the words, images, patterns, and thought-provoking choices any business makes in order to meet their ideal customer. It's just a matter, I think, of recognizing that you're not, in fact, compromising anything in this act of 'marketing'. Instead, you're doing your client a service by meeting them in the middle.