There are essentially two foundational ways of showing up in our marketing and content:
You can get clients through both methods, but only one method unleashes your full potential.
Let’s start with what most people think marketing is about:
This is when you work hard to make a great first impression: awesome logo, amazing website, persuasive copywriting, undeniable testimonials, polished videos, perfect products. To be instantly charming and persuasive. There’s nothing wrong with these things per se, if they’re a natural culmination of organic development of your brand over time.
However, trying to be instantly impressive, stretching far beyond what is currently you, is not sustainable… and you’ll likely disappoint.
It also reinforces a “fixed mindset”.
“In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success — without effort.” (from the book “Mindset” by Carol Dweck)
You may succeed in making a perfect first impression on someone… but then you’ll have the pressure to keep up the image. You’ve set a high expectation. If that level of impressiveness isn’t natural (authentic) to your normal way of operating, then you will disappoint your audience, your clients, your business partners, and yourself.
Instant impressiveness is what you are trying to achieve when you work extra hard (not joyfully, not consistently) at anything marketing-related — creating persuasive web copy, attractive looking visuals, perfectly-scripted videos – beyond what you authentically and consistently do.
Making extra effort (or spending lots of money) on marketing is a risky strategy: you don’t know whether it’s going to work until the finished product touches the market. If you have lots of business experience, you know that effortful launches are usually a flop. (You don’t hear about those. You usually only hear about the successes.)
Instant impressiveness creates burnout. In this method, we’re always anxiously trying to look successful.
Truthfully, I don’t have enough energy for this method anyway, so I’ve taken a different path…
This is an ongoing dedication to showing up consistently, in service to your personal growth, and in a spirit of ministry towards your ideal audience.
That’s what authentic marketing is: a consistent effort to explore your calling while serving your audience with helpful content.
You’re not trying to be more polished than you usually are, or smarter than everyone, or “number one” in your field.
Instead, you are practicing the joyful diligence of authentic business: creating consistently… connecting genuinely… serving with heart… always with the curiosity of exploring the alignment between your passions and your audience’s wants.
Magic is created whenever you touch upon that alignment between your authentic energy and your audience’s wants. Your content gets engagement, and your products/services sell beautifully. This is the natural result of showing up consistently with an experimentation mindset.
Your explorations will grow your understanding about that blessed intersection between your passion and your audience’s wants.
In other words:
“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and work — brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” (from the book “Mindset” by Carol Dweck)
The world is a big place. Your journey of exploration is a long one. So, don’t worry about what others think of you at first.
Be more concerned whether you are showing up consistently.
By dedicating yourself to practice — to “kaizen” (continuous small improvements) — you will inevitably become authentically impressive. In this path, when people are impressed, they are seeing the true you: you really have become that good.
For example, I hated writing for most of my life. With consistent practice, I’ve learned to enjoy writing, and I’ve now self-published several books about authentic business. The first editions of the books are so-so, but I know that with continued improvement (future editions) they will become more authentically impressive.
True success arises with consistent practice.
But what are we to practice? I recommend The 8 practices of authentic business.
What I love most about this path of Consistent Authenticity is that it frames all our business efforts as personal growth. It makes marketing all about the journey of finding your true livelihood.
George Kao is a Marketing Coach for small business owners, especially solopreneurs such as Coaches and Mentors. He focuses on ethical & effective ways to grow one's platform and build true livelihood.
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