Stories You Tell Yourself About Marketing5 min read
Why does marketing often feel like a struggle, a challenging and not very fun to do?
I want to suggest that it’s mostly because of the stories you tell yourself about marketing.
If you haven’t noticed, you are always telling yourself stories.
And the first thing to notice about a story is that it’s not an accurate representation of reality.
A story is a narrative expression that is, at best, an approximation of reality. It’s actually a “virtual reality.”
And the only problem with a virtual reality is that it’s not real. In fact, more often than not, a story is a gross distortion of reality.
We tell all kinds of stories (to ourselves) about what we conceive marketing to be. And then we believe those stories.
We tell stories about…
Marketing – “…is just hype and half-truths.”
Selling – “…is mostly manipulation and lying.”
The past – “I’ve never been good at explaining what I do.”
The future – “I’ll never be able to get that person as a client.”
Efforts – “It takes too much work to build an email list.”
Results – “What I accomplished wasn’t good enough.”
Writing – “I have no idea what I should write about.”
Speaking – “I’ve never been good in front of a group of people.”
Networking – “Basically, I’m an introvert, big events are scary.”
Websites – “My website sucks.”
Social Media – “Nobody can get clients on LinkedIn.”
Myself – “I should be a better marketer by now.”
Others – “Nobody really understands what I do.”
Success – “It takes years of backbreaking work to succeed.”
Failure – “I’ll never really achieve my most important goals.
If you look closely, you’ll notice that you (and I) make up stories about virtually everything. Except not virtually. And of course, this includes stories about every area of our lives.
What is the alternative?
Awareness of the way things are, without a story attached.
This seems so simple and obvious, that most of us miss it completely.
“Reality is always kinder than the stories we tell ourselves.” – Byron Katie.
“We must kill the lies (the stories) we believe before they kill our ability to live life to the full.” – Niki Hardy
“Don’t spend your life believing a story about yourself that you didn’t write that’s been fed to you – that simply you’ve accepted, embedded and added to.” – Rasheed Ogunlaru
How would we approach marketing our businesses without telling ourselves all of these false stories?
Let’s say you were told by a wise marketing coach that the key to getting more clients was to have conversations with more people.
“Talk with more people. Meet with more people. Find out about them and share how you help your clients. The more conversations you have, and the more you work at improving the quality of these conversations, the better you’ll become at landing more clients.”
So, of course, the first thing you do is tell yourself stories about this idea of having more conversations. And notice that most of them aren’t helpful in any way whatsoever.
“I’m not great at having conversations. I talk too much. It’s hard to get people to listen to me. I don’t know who to talk to. I don’t know what I’d say. People won’t want to talk to me. People don’t want to be bothered. People don’t have the time to talk to me.”
Do you see that these are all simply stories you are telling yourself? They are assessments, judgments, and beliefs about situations, yourself and others.
They don’t accurately reflect reality.
And, by the way, trying to tell yourself positive stories doesn’t help much. Those aren’t really true either.
“I’m great at having conversations. Everyone wants to meet with me. My value proposition is interesting. I can get anyone’s attention easily. I’ll turn every conversation into a new client.”
What if you stopped telling yourself stories and started asking questions instead?
“Who are the people I should be talking to? Where can I find them? Who do I already know, and whom do they know? What are they most interested in? What groups do they belong to? What would get their attention the most quickly? What value can I give them immediately? How can I make it fun to meet with me? What’s the best time to reach out to them?” (And a zillion more.)
And, by the way, you can pose these questions to yourself, to others, to experts, and to Google. The answers are out there!
Notice the big difference between stories and questions?
Stories are representations of how we believe reality is. They are fixed, static, and inflexible. They hold no possibility for something new. They are like boxes that restrict our thinking and actions. They don’t take us anywhere.
Questions, on the other hand, are explorations into what is possible based on the realities you are dealing with.
The realities are: You have a service to share with others. There are people who may benefit from this service. Unless they know about these services, they will never buy them from you. And having conversations is, observably, a key activity that happens before someone buys your service. It follows that the more conversations you have with prospects, the more clients you’ll land.
Understanding that, asking questions opens up new possibilities and ways to have more of those conversations.
When we are open, looking, exploring and questioning, we may find many, many ways to make something happen, such as having more conversations.
And when we do that, marketing becomes an adventure, not a chore. We become like Edison in search of the right filament for his light bulb.
Every time a particular filament didn’t work, he was closer to finding the one that would work.
So, deal with reality, not stories. Ask questions and go about discovering what will work – in reality.
I predict you will find answers you never expected that will work brilliantly to help you find more clients.