This is Week 13 of a 52-week project/experiment in DIY marketing. Armed with nothing but a copy of the 2009 Grow Your Business Marketing Plan + Calendar and my bare wits, I'm applying the skills you need to grow a business in real time, day by day, and reporting on them week by week. You can follow along here every Monday; check in with my companion blog, A Virgo's Guide to Marketing, for additional links and information.
If you're working the Veteran's Calendar literally, you'll be drafting your first press release this week. While I don't doubt the value of press releases nor the wisdom in learning to draft one well in advance of actually needing it, my recent trip to SxSW netted me a couple of huge potential projects that would actually require leveraging the press, and I need to at least get them underway first. Cool? Let's move on!
This week was the first where my energy felt like it was back to something resembling normal. As I mentioned last week, big conferences can be useful—and, if they're South by Southwest Interactive, fun x 10—but they do take it outta you.
For the most part, my marketing efforts this week once again went into the blog: I've doubled down on the posts, in a way, writing more of the personal essays that I like writing, that I'd like to get paid to more of, and that my readers seem to like. In fact, the more the world turns to short-form social media messaging like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., the more I feel that there's real opportunity from a marketing perspective in getting your mother ship (that's the main site or blog you drive all your other social media traffic to) in outstanding condition. Here's how I worked on that this week…
Feeling the Force in Marketing
(or, "Hold onto your seat belts, my hard-core rationalist friends: it's going to be a woowoo flight!")
The longer I have a hand in this marketing stuff, the more I realize that there are two methodologies. They're both mutually exclusive and inextricably linked, depending on the practitioner, but I think that the finest in the land have perfected a mixture of both, with an entry point in one or the other.
The first is nuts-and-bolts marketing. That's you, on the ground, building up your marketing machine piece by piece: starting a blog; making dreaded cold calls; creating an email vehicle; connecting with other networkers. I liken this to a beginning cook learning the trade, mostly because I was very much a beginning cook for years. I had to learn how to chop and how to slice, which flavors worked and which didn't, which parts of a recipe could be omitted or changed up and which would render it unfit for dog food, and a million other often-tedious tasks and tricks. I washed a LOT of dishes; I ate a LOT of mistakes. But if you do the work and do it regularly, you will become a competent cook and be able to eat well.
The second type is intuitive marketing. These are the people who take to some (or many, blast them) parts of marketing like a duck to water. They are the types whom others are naturally drawn to, making them killers at networking (and, often, leadership). They are the natural sales people for whom cold calling is as easy and vital as breathing. They are people who have ideas that bowl over the rest of us with their singular brilliance and innovation.
If I were to analyze myself and my own style, it would definitely be "intuitive marketer": I love to entertain and have always been drawn to writing and art as means of expression, so I got away with a lot for a long time.
What's interesting to me is that the real superstars are those who have a fusion of both: they either learn the nuts and bolts and have it become so second-nature, they're drawn to explore the "softer" aspects of it, or they're arty-farty types who, when shown there's a method to this madness, start learning the techniques that will take them to the next level.
I bring all of this up because I have always thought there was a "right" way to do things, even as other people tended to marvel at what I considered my messes. Working this calendar—doing things methodically, having the accountability force me to examine the "why" behind my resistance, seeing the cumulative benefits of this rather (sorry) tedious process—has opened my eyes to the possibilities behind fusing art and commerce. (What—you didn't know I was a big commie pinko hippie?)
This week, in bullet points
Like I said above, while I'm all for creative freedom and room to express oneself, I have made myself accountable to you all for a reason: I'd like to get stuff done! So here are the nuts-and-bolts stuff I did this week:
- I sponsored the third monthly networking event for the LA Biznik community. It should be as easy as phoning the manager at Jerry's Famous Deli and showing up with name tags at the appointed time. But I'm an introvert and a worrywart and—yes—a Virgo, so there are other things I like to do. Like…worry. (Don't laugh; it's a full-time job.) This month we got off to a rocky start when a computer glitch kept the event announcement from going live on the main L.A. page until days before the event itself, so we had a much smaller turnout (albeit still a delightful one). But as with every time, I've learned some other good items to add to my prep checklist, which will make the next event go more smoothly. One of those things was adding a co-host, my friend, Heather Parlato; consider a buddy yourself if you're feeling overwhelmed. (BTW, if you want to join us, please do!)
- I revised the "consulting" page of my website and took it live. My slow march towards self-employed legitimacy continues. This week I did an overhaul of my consulting page and placed a big button link to it in the sidebar. (Feedback, please! Please!) There's still more work to do, but I feel much better having stuck my flag in the ground for all to see.
- I added a Twitter Policy Page. You heard it here first: at some point, someone will get ticked off at you if you don't follow them back. I've been keeping an eye on my unfollows at Twitter, and also checking the temperature regarding follow ratios in general. While most of the people who are on Twitter for any length of time get that it's a really flexible tool and that there's no one "right" way to use it, we're at a point where more and more people who have no idea are jumping on, with an attendant possibility for misunderstanding and worse, hurt feelings. I'm a big, squishy, earnest heart who wouldn't want to hurt anyone. I also use Twitter very specifically, plus I have the attention span of a gnat. I'm hoping that the Twitter Policy will serve as friendly boilerplate to cut misunderstandings off at the pass. Plus, I've been meaning to create some pieces on social media usage beest practices based on the content from my speeches, and this was a good start.
- I updated my newsletter archives page. With a new one coming out this coming week, it's good to have the archives ready to go. And they are!
- I wrote my marketing-for-actors column. The column is the entry point for a lot of actors to the rest of my material. Not all of them will stay, but a few more do each month, and every little bit brings me closer to my goal of 1,000 True Fans.
- I worked on two book proposals. Yup, you heard right: I've got two, count 'em, two books I'm gearing up to write this year. May not have both accepted by publishers; may not have either. But I'm getting the material in shape so that I can write at least one. It's as essential to my growth as a writer as it is to marketing my services as one.
Here's me being honest: I blew off my cold calls AGAIN this week. AAAUGH!!! What's up with that? Well, I know: I like them the least, so I'll jump on the smallest excuse to avoid them. This week, it was—don't laugh—a dead phone battery. Yeah. I know.
I bought a new one and am all charged up this week. Wish me luck.
Oh—and seriously, if you have any feedback about my revised consulting page or my brand new Twitter Policy page, I'd love to hear them.
And while you're at it, feel free to throw in any questions you have about Twitter in general. It'll be big-time helpful as I gear up to write the how-to pages.