I could spend an entire day listing things that don't *seem* like marketing.
Doodles, thought pieces, blackout poetry, your photos on Instagram, a collection of your favorite blogs, your crazy creative process, 5-minute podcast monologues, a free consulting session, a 30-day challenge and community where everyone creates together...
These are all things people use as marketing because IT IS MARKETING!
Maybe you're hung up on all the courses by marketing and branding "experts," and you want to try their frameworks and join a dozen social media platforms and just go through the motions because you "have to" put your message out there. You may think you're ready and willing to kill yourself for every sale and client and do everything you're supposed to do... but what if you didn't "have to"? What if marketing is what YOU make it?
Creative marketing may give no guarantees, but it's always fun and often pays off big. So let's step back and try to make this journey at least a little bit fun.
There's a problem.
You're a creative introvert. You'd rather create than network.
Thing is, many of my favorite online heroes are creative introverts, just like you, who have found creative ways to draw people in, instead of pushing themselves on the people around them. The best kind of marketing pulls more than it pushes.
I'll give you some examples of people who do their own thing:
- Amanda Sandlin is a typical creative. You can join her 30 Days of Drawing challenge, and you'll be invited to join a facebook group called Make Your Mark where everyone creates stuff! She didn't join a huge facebook group, but started her own quiet revolution and ignored all the networking advice so she can do her thing. (Check out her new creative journal Grit and her lovely mixed-media art on Instagram.)
- Austin Kleon is a popular example of a rebellious creative. His blackout poetry, show your work approach, and tweets that honor the creatives of the past don't exactly scream "expert advice" or "traditional marketing." They're just his way of seeing the world and expressing himself and they have become his marketing.
- You won't see Jen Carrington on any videos. You won't catch her on social media either. But you will get a TON of value from her blog and podcast because she loves writing and having deep conversations with people. If you think the latter can't be a marketing tool, think again. Make It Happen is the living proof that it can be.
- Casey Neistat is a film-maker who became a vlogger, which is basically the same thing in his case. Who says vlogs have to be boring and just you talking? Casey has turned vlogging into art because of his film background and because he loves it. (Did you know that it actually started as a daily vlog challenge kind of thing?)
- Guy Kawasaki's "book marketing strategy" is to let his readers see his work-in-progress chapters and give him their feedback. By the time his books launch, so many people have been involved that the buzz is amazing. Instant best-sellers!
- Did you ever think an entire business can be built around a planner? I haven't, but Marissa Eltiste proves that it can. She started out by making a personalized planner to soothe her ADHD and ended up running a business. The best part is that the planner defies society's definition of "perfect." Typical creative rebel.
Listen, here's the deal...
These people are not playing by the rules. As a result, they STAND OUT.
And you already have a HUGE advantage over many other business or brand owners who are following the expert advice. You. Are. Creative. Don't squander this gift. Use it on every level of your business and see how far it gets you. (Usually, really far.)
The other day I was talking to a lovely - and quiet - designer. She said she liked to help people, but stay behind the scenes. She said she's side-hustling and taking courses that would help her get "booked out." She said she wasn't big on networking.
If I had a nickle every time a creative said all that, I'd be rich right now.
Thing is, as we talked - I asked her what she loved about her process and generally in creativity - we got to a really promising idea. Out of the blue she said that she liked time lapses. A bell tinkled in my brain. Then she said she'd always wanted to do one of those and that she was a film major in college, so she knew how to edit video.
DING DING DINGGGGGGGGGG.
I told her she should absolutely make a time lapse video of her process and use it to promote her design services. She said she'd never thought about it and I can tell you why - because we are TOLD what marketing is and HOW we're SUPPOSED TO DO IT.
Why would you want your life to be an endless string of helpful yet boring advice? Why would you want to do something that's not your style? Why would you want to do the kind of sleazy marketing you hate when you can just be yourself?
It's time to do things differently. It's time to let your rebel come out and PLAY.
As for my creative friend, she told me I inspired her to focus on creating rather than worry about business tactics. Nothing makes me happier than hearing people say that! And I know her creativity will be her "business tactic", just not in the traditional way.
Screw traditional, we're going ROGUE! You with me?!
Your love list.
Make a list of everything you love. Anything and everything.
Here's my list:
- I love collecting free photos.
- I love trailers and any kind of storytelling.
- I love watching sci-fi movies and TV shows.
- I love writing letters to friends.
- I love taking pictures of new places.
- I love talking to passionate people.
- I love creative journals and challenges.
- I love people who say f*ck a lot.
- I love sarcasm and sarcastic people.
- I love affirmations and inspirational quotes.
- I love people who don't give a damn.
- I love polar bears and naming my plushies.
- I love organizing things and seeing the big picture.
- I love brainstorming out loud.
- I love everything psychology.
- I love twitter and coffee.
Phew! As long as this is, I could probably add a TON of stuff to it.
Now take your list and pretend all of those things were MADE to help you with your business and marketing. Question is: How would you apply them?
If you love writing letters to friends, turn your newsletter into a letter like I did. If you love brainstorming out loud, try a mini podcast where you just give your ideas in 5 minute increments... again, like I did. If you love trailers, make them for your products. If you love polar bears, use them as your logo (like Paul Jarvis does with rats). If you love coffee, share funny coffee GIF's on social (like Melissa Stewart does a lot). And so on.
You can turn anything that spreads and strengthens your message into marketing. Just let your imagination go there. And don't wait around for people to give you permission. By virtue of being alive, you're entitled to be as creative as you want.
Hopefully, by now you see - you don't have to suffer in marketing. And you don't need to follow expert advice anymore than you want to. Just be a creative rebel with me - and my entire tribe which you should join like right now - and let's play it by ear. Buy way more creative journals than business courses and see where that gets us!
What you're building is a completely novel concept. The creative business is just blooming right now and you can make it into anything you want. It's what women authors used to be when the majority of books were written by men. What the Internet was before it became the norm. Even infopreneurship was a novelty once.
Take advantage of this innovation bubble and be as creative as you dare to be!
I'll be waiting on the other side, with Margaritas.