Someone recently told me that I am really good at marketing and promoting my work. This is nice to hear since I’ve never really considered myself to be good at this. I can promote the hell out of someone else but when it comes to my own work it is a bit more challenging. I was raised in the Midwest in a culture where it is considered impolite to talk about yourself and when you do, it is called “bragging”. So when I started my business 2 ½ years ago I had to re-program my thoughts about shameless self-promotion, the first being there is no shame in it at all.
Here are the most important things that I have learned
1. Be authentic.
Know who you are and what you stand for. When I was growing up I was always the girl who mediated arguments between friends and gave advice when asked, (and I was asked a lot). If a friend liked a boy, I was sent over to negotiate their “going steady” since I was the quiet girl who had good judgment. In high school I hung around with a group of 10 girls and I was the one who said, “For the record, I really don’t think we should do this.” I was the voice of reason.
In short, I am the glue. When my friends started Lucy & Leo’s Cupcakery and they found the perfect location but were concerned about the rent for a start-up business, I introduced them to my friends at Textures Handmade Market who were looking to move their established business to a new location. They have now been in business for the past 2 ½ years while sharing a space and rent together and becoming super successful. Glue.
2. Build relationships.
So, how does this character trait of being the glue help me in my own marketing and promoting? Well, my business coach, Elizabeth Barbour says we should think of networking as “relationship building”. In building relationships by being my authentic self, I am promoting my work without even trying. Luckily, I love meeting new people and I also love helping people out with whatever I can. If this comes back to me in the form of a sale, that’s great. If it doesn’t, who cares because I love to be the glue and being the glue leads me back to #1.
3. Surround yourself with good people.
I am choosing to spend my time with people who support me and have my best interests in mind. This doesn’t mean they tell me what I want to hear but they do listen to me and offer suggestions and really get excited about my successes and share in my disappointments. I am not interested in competition but I am interested in sharing and if this is you, I would like to go back to #2 and build a relationship with you.
4. Channeling my perfect customer.
If you are not a good human being, please don’t buy my work. I said it. I want my work to be out there in the world bringing beauty into your home and helping you to put healthy food into your body. (and if you occasionally eat a Five Guys burger, I’m right there with you) But my authentic self doesn’t want to deal with you if you are not spending your time putting good out there yourself. Because if you’re not a good person I cannot have you in my space and I certainly cannot build a relationship with you. (see #2 and #3)
My friend and potter Justin Rothshank fits all of these criteria. He recently told me that he gives away as many mugs as he sells. Does he do this as a marketing ploy? No, he loves giving gifts to his friends and people he meets. If someone sees one of his mugs in the world and likes it and buys it then that is great but his authentic motivation is the act of giving. Knowing Justin and building a relationship with him makes me want to promote him and his work and in turn I know that he will do the same for me. Because he is pretty freaking awesome! And I only surround myself with awesome people. And that lovely human being just sent me a Justin Rothshank Lincoln mug that I’ve been coveting for years! Which means one of my cups will soon be in the mail on it’s way to him.
And this folks, is how the world should work.