If you're an introvert, you probably hate marketing because “Marketing” is a dirty word. It means we have to sell things to people. Selling conjures images of pushy car salesmen. But what if marketing wasn’t sleazy? What if instead of “selling,” we were really just connecting people with the things they already want? We recommend TV shows to our friends right? Or recipes, books, movies, etc. And usually, our friends are grateful for our advice.
What if Marketing was just like that?
Or at least it can be when we use it correctly.
As introverts though, we have issues talking to people let alone recommending things we care about to others.
What are we afraid of? Bugging people, failing, and being inadequate. We tell ourselves, “People won’t listen to me, I’m not an expert.” “I don’t have qualifications, I’m not a salesman.” “I can’t talk to people. I plan every social encounter, people drain me.” “My material isn’t good enough. I’m not the next best-seller. My work isn’t worth much compared to someone else.” “There’s too much to learn. I can’t make it all work. I don’t have the time, patience, resources, skills, tech savvy etc.”
And, of course, we fear that horrible beast Rejection.
Here are the 10 most common hang-ups and how to combat them.
Bugging people. Huge hang-up of mine. I don’t like pushing my stuff onto someone else and I absolutely hate those posts on Facebook where people only plug their latest business scheme. I see beauty products and clothes everywhere. It seems that most of my friends are sales associates for these products, and I’ve un-followed a few because of it. I don’t want people to un-follow me, because they feel bombarded with pitches. Here’s the thing, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Combat your fear of bugging people by being relentlessly helpful like Tim Grahl suggests. These people made the choice to follow you. They’re interested in your life. Make it worth their time by helping them and then invite them to join your Email List. Email lists are what Seth Godin calls ‘permission marketing,” which means that the people on your email list actively decided that they want more content from you. So in effect, you’re not bugging them at all.
Failing. Steve Martin said, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” I don’t want to do all this work only to fail, and I imagine you don’t either. This has been my dream since I learned how to read. I want to make authoring a career and I can’t do that if I don’t make enough money to survive. I don’t want to give this up and live with the shame, because I wasn’t good enough. I don’t want to have to look people in the eye and tell them I failed. Until you believe you can, you won’t. “If you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” Combat the fear of failing by letting fear become your motivation instead of your stumbling block. Take the first leap especially if you don’t feel ready. Dive into the deep end like learning how to swim because we cling harder to success when it’s slipping from our grasp. Believe in what you’re fighting for. What will set you apart is the sheer amount of effort you put into your goals. If you want it, go get it.
Inadequate. “I have no expertise. I am only passionately curious.” -Albert Einstein. I feel incredibly inadequate next to those who came before and those who are pros now. “You are a writer. You just need to write,” Jeff Goins’s friend told him one day. “Those who believe they can’t, are right.” If you feel inadequate it should make you work that much harder to achieve your goals. Learning is Key to combating inadequacy. Read everything you can get your hands on. Join webinars and informative email lists, learn everything you can from the “professionals’ and never stop seeking knowledge. Then practice what you learn. Practice, practice, and practice some more. It’s been said that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to make an expert. That time is going to pass anyway. Decide what you want to be at the end of it and then work relentlessly towards it.
“People wont listen to me. I’m nobody.” I have nothing to say that hasn’t already been said. I have nothing to contribute. Better books exist on every subject. Not to mention, I have no audience. I don’t know how to build one. I’ve tried twitter and Facebook. I’ve set up my website. “If you build it, they will come,” doesn’t apply here. I can’t break the ice. I can’t even attempt to market because talking to people scares me. Here’s the hard, honest truth that we have to work with no matter who we are, everybody has to start somewhere, even the geniuses, the talented, and the professionals. We all have to start as nobodies. Think about the circles you’re in now. Friends, family, coworkers etc. You’re not nobody to somebody. There are people out there who believe you are worth listening to even if you don’t believe it yet. Build on their beliefs until you can nurture your own. Derek Sivers said, “What’s obvious to you is amazing to others.” Share your knowledge. Grow your audience with the things you have to offer. You’ll be surprised at how many people will look to you for guidance.
“I’m not an expert. I don’t have the qualifications.” I didn’t go to school. I don’t have a degree. So we’re not experts. So we don’t have the necessary qualifications to achieve our goals. This is where we have the opportunity to better ourselves. Search out the best in your field and learn from them. Join their email lists, participate in the courses they have. Ask questions, be involved in the learning process, take notes, study like a student and practice what you learn extensively until it becomes muscle memory, until you can do it in your sleep. This is how you will become an expert. Keep learning things close to your industry as well to round your knowledge base. Technology, science etc. are always moving forward, so should you. If you’re not advancing you’re regressing. Even experts have to keep studying to stay ahead in their field.
“People drain me. I have to plan every social encounter.” As an introvert, I plan everything in advance. Just to hang out with friends, I have to schedule, outline activities, and then mentally prepare myself to attend, make conversation, and not be awkward. Then I stress about the event until it’s over. I love listening to people, but freak out when it’s my turn to talk. I can’t find the words to say. I worry I’ll say the wrong thing. When getting to know people, I struggle in that awkward “surface talk” area where people pretend to know or like what I like to get that “deeper level,” which just seems artificial and tedious. It takes years and many encounters to truly get to know a person. This is a tough fear to combat because it’s not something we can magically fix (nor do I believe it should be fixed because we can turn it into a strength). I think the reason introverts struggle with encounters is because we value people so highly, and stress ourselves out about making the other person uncomfortable. But if we genuinely care about people, we want to help them, and we do our best no matter how nervous we are. If we can add value to the other person’s life, it makes us feel 10x better about the encounter. There’s nothing wrong with preparing in advance the things we want to say. Human connection is deep and should be meaningful. Treating people this way will create the kind of relationships that don’t drain us, but leave us feeling energized and refreshed.
“I’m not salesman material.” To me, sales are the most superficial interactions. I’ve worked closely with salesman. Car salesmen. It was my job. What I noticed is that they’re not interested in helping people so much as pushing a sale through and making money. Let’s be honest, we don’t like the image of salesmen because we’ve been pushed by them before, and we don’t want to be “that guy.” We think of them as sleazy, dishonest, and greedy. In what world would we want to be thought of in that way? Well, sales doesn’t have to be sleazy. Simply put, sales is the connection of people with products that they want and can afford. Marketing is helping someone make informed decisions about what you have to offer. Make lasting, meaningful connections with your customers. This is especially hard in sales because the encounters are so fleeting and surface level niceties, but by being honest about yourself and your product, you invite people to trust you. By trusting them and being genuinely interested in helping others, you create relationships (hopefully deep, lifelong relationships). If your friend offered you something that would help you, would you be interested? Most likely, Yes, because you know they care about you and won’t try to lead you astray. Tim Grahl’s definition of marketing: add value to people. Let your potential customers see your value. Show them what you have to offer, by letting them sample the product. If it’s a good fit, they’ll stick around.
“My material isn’t good enough.” We tell ourselves, “I’m not the next best seller. Compared to someone else’s work, mine sucks. No one will like it.” But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. How many books have you read that you loved, but someone else hated and vice versa? What about movies and TV shows? What about music? We as a society don’t all have the same taste, and that’s a good thing. Why do people go to the movies? To be entertained over and over and over. Why are movie industries making so many movies nowadays? Why do they announce them in advance and build up exciting trailers a year before the film comes out? Because people are going to go watch them and the movies are going to bring in money. Are the movies always as good as you thought they’d be? Not necessarily, but they keep making money anyway because of the people who have a taste for that kind of entertainment. Personally, I think a lot of material put out there nowadays (especially popular material) sucks. But secretly, it doesn’t matter what I think. I’m a speck within infinity, and other people like those books or TV shows so much that those crappy authors, musicians, movie-makers keep raking in the dough. What matters is that you wrote material, and someone out there is going to love it. If you don’t feel like the material is good enough, you can always make it better. “Is it any good?” is a loaded question. Can we really label it by anything except according to our own experience? There are opinions everywhere. Who decides what is or isn’t good?
Rejection. “I put my heart and soul into this project. It’s my baby. I can’t face rejection” The depressing, confidence-shaking truth is that people are going to reject your baby. People will refuse to acknowledge your product, say they don’t like it, and hurt your feelings. But if you really want to be an entrepreneur, you will have to learn to deal with daily rejection and the feelings that come with it. I waded hip deep in rejection letters from publishing companies. Every author who has tried traditional publishing can tell you similar stories. Rejection is inevitable. Dive into your projects with the realization that your work isn’t for everyone. It’s not personal. It’s just business. But also, be aware that your work might change someone’s life, and you’ll make amazing relationships as a result of your efforts. That alone will be worth the rejections you receive.
“There’s too much to learn and do.” I can’t do it all. I don’t have the time, skills, patience, resource. I’ll admit to being overwhelmed by all the information out there. I get dozens of different newsletters from different entities that help specifically with marketing and self-publishing. I listen to webinars, buy books, subscribe to courses, and take notes on everything I learn. The sheer volume of “do this, not this” is staggering. Not only do I have to write books and make them perfect, but I also have to basically build a small business to market them. That’s freaking hard! Set up a website, integrate an email subscribe form, market (which is it’s own animal), keep learning, and expanding audience by chasing down leads, writing constantly to get new fresh content out there. It’s more than a full time job. I spend entire days learning, writing, and tweaking my approach to marketing. And there’s so much differing advice! It’s hard to decipher what actually will work. Here’s where to start. Find the experts in your field. Who is everyone quoting? Who is the most followed. If you have limited time, it’s worth making it count by following the advice of one person, tweaking your approach to marketing based on their advice, and modeling your assets (such as your web page and email list subscription form) after that of the expert. Most of them give out good advice in their emails, have webinars every once in a while, write books on their subjects, and have courses you can sign up for. Take advantage of these. Also, when you have time, pay attention to who your expert works with or quotes. Even the experts had to start somewhere and they also follow people with great advice. Don’t let the learning process overwhelm you. Take it one step at a time.
It’s hard to move past the voices telling us not to put ourselves out there, but if we truly want it, we’ll go get it. Take these snippets of advice, ingrain them into your pursuits, and go forth and conquer. What holds us back the most is our mindsets and fears. It’s time to rewire our brains so that we aren’t afraid of success, but actively striving towards it.