I'm 38 years old. For my entire youth and into adulthood, I was being pitched products by the television and radio every moment of every day. Blasted by billboards, and accustomed to the 20 pages of ads before the table of contents in every magazine. I was overstimulated, oversaturated, and basically burned out. Before my life had even started, America had converted to a heavily consumer based society, and I was living through the fat belly of marketing, nourishing us all through our childhoods.
By the time I was an adult, I had begun to ignore advertising altogether. It simply didn't move me to take interest in things. There was no trust in it, and I relied heavily on recommendations from peers to purchase just about everything. I was content in my anti-corporate heavy metal culture I gravitated towards.
It all changed…
I remember the first time I signed onto MySpace. It was 2004, I was 25 years old, and an entire world beyond South Jersey opened up. Within a couple of months, I realized that I was able to reach potential clients. In early 2005 I got married, moved to Pittsburgh, and got pregnant with twins. Suddenly, the importance of building a client base became my single most important career point.
Ever since then, I have hopped from platform to platform, learning as much as I could about effectively marketing my personal brand. Of course I knew nothing of marketing and branding, I was only trying to pull in clients the only way I knew how: by engaging them in one on one conversation about what I can do for them.
Along came a spider
It wasn't long before advertisers hopped into the social media space. First MySpace began with header ads, then Facebook with side ads, then pop ups, banners, pre video commercials, you name it. Every old form of advertising had crept its way in and found a digital equivalent.
And you know what? I still didn't care for it. In fact, I hated it even more. Social media was a space that I was cultivating for my own experience. I didn't want shoes and fast food ads popping up everywhere. I didn't want ads at all.
Except for one thing:
I owned a business. If you want serious success, you have no choice but to advertise. How could I possibly promote my own business while still defying corporate stiffs like a true metalhead?
The answer was right in front of me. I had been doing it for years. The single best way to build a client base for your business is intimate one on one attention. Show that you care. I had been treating my online interaction with others as if we were face to face, and I was doing my best to provide them quality service.
The entire concept of intimate attention had basically been bred into me through the very subcultures I indulged in as an escape from corporatism. The DIY aesthetic of metal and punk music relied heavily on unity, cooperation, grassroots word of mouth, and good old fashioned hard work in order to gain recognition. These are the same principles that push successful marketing strategy, especially for small businesses and individual brands.
No one wants a cold and soulless sales pitch. We want genuine, authentic interaction that feels less like a sale and more like someone who is helping us solve a problem. After all, sales is nothing more than presenting products that aim to give solutions to a variety of problems.
Where do you go from here?
The path is simple and intuitive. Don't present yourself to others in a way you wouldn't want them presenting themselves to you. Marketing your personal brand and business are necessary to achieving high levels of success and growth, but you can do it with integrity. Don't treat your clients like transactions, treat them like people with real goals and desires. Show them the same level of care you would want to be treated with.
While I have adapted tools such as adwords and Facebook ads to fit my methods, my primary concern is always the client experience. Without them, I couldn't feed my family. Who would've thought that an antisocial metal kid from Jersey would have been given the tools to navigate marketing and advertising by completely rejecting marketing and advertising?
When you strip away the flow charts and data sheets, marketing is about being of service. It's about being passionate and raw, and finding your voice amidst a cacophony of noise. Be real with your customer base, and do your best to give them value.