*Part 1 of a 2-part series about Online Marketing and Discernment.
Part 1: How we REALLY feel about online marketing
It’s damn near impossible to go online and not be reminded again and again of what we ‘should’ be doing to grow our business. The messages are constant, noisy, distracting, and many of them serve to make us question ourselves: am I doing everything I can to help my business? Am I doing a disservice to my business if I don’t start doing #allthethings?
Over and over the message we hear is: Do. It. All. All. Of. The. Time.
In my work with women entrepreneurs I hear a consistent longing to learn how to unhook from all the shoulds, to filter out ‘hard and fast’ rules, to dial down the noise so we can actually hear our own wisdom. I’ve heard that longing expressed as different questions: what is right for me? How can I move from uncertainty to clarity as I make decisions for my business? How can I develop an unwavering practice of discernment?
The overwhelming impact of these ‘business shoulds’ is so prevalent among the women I speak to, I was inspired to reach out to clients and colleagues to find out which marketing messages irk them the most. The responses were immediate, thoughtful and SO consistent. Also funny. Because isn’t it the most refreshing thing when our allies vent with ‘real talk’ about what we’re all feeling?
Here’s what they said (any of them sound familiar?):
“Apparently you need to be skinny, white, young and aspirational to be successful.”
“Get on stage in front of crowds to find clients. Have a big social media presence. Automate and delegate service delivery. Have a massive list. Make everything about growing the list.”
“Pick a niche and only write, talk, speak about that. Once you have mastered your niche you should teach others how to run a biz just like yours.”
“Need an expensive passive-income-based group program (but hardly anyone learns that way!).”
“You have to ‘pay to play’ to coach with people who will then promote you and share you with their network. It’s a freaking popularity contest.”
“I have FOMO on lots of things. So, even though I’m not building a huge online presence – that’s not my goal – I still get the pang of thinking I need to do it. It takes a lot of energy for me to stay in my lane and not try to be all things to all people. Being specific on who I serve dictates where I spend my social media currency.”
“Be pretty. Like, pretty website, pretty social media, pretty words, pretty life. OR, be MESSY, but in the name of having some lesson to share about vulnerability or complexity or overcoming.” I’m actually SUPER BORED by the majority of my social media feeds – Instagram especially – that are just a constant drip feed of pretty pictures and other people’s words of wisdom. There’s altogether too much wisdom and not enough mucking around and cat pictures, if you ask me.”
“I’m just not interested in an IV drip of other peoples’ aha moments. AND, I’m guilty of it, too. Faaaaaackkkk!!!!!”
“Conversion rates = 2% therefore thou shalt be unable to pay the bills without a massive list.”
“I’m still getting marketing programs designed with the element of fear in them, like: ‘sign up now or you’ll miss out on ever getting another client again’.”
“Be ‘cool’ and popular on IG. But the message gets lost when the person is all about posing, looking the part (whatever that is in the moment) because where’s the fucking substance?”
“Have a strong social media presence on ALL channels available (and use instastories or snapchat or facebook live as much as possible??!). Gain followers on all of these channels like you’re Kylie Jenner.”
“So many squirrels! I’m always seeing a ton of ‘experts’ and courses telling me how I could be so much better – at everything from running my business, fitness, nutrition, coaching, and life in general. Staying focused and confident on my own path is tough.”
“SEO SEO SEO. I hear this all the time. I have to blog and drive traffic back to my site.
“I have to have an Instagram feed that’s beautiful and consistent to drive traffic back to my site. I have to have an Opt In to grow my list. Sometimes I just want to put up a picture of my Goldendoodle sleeping upside down. And then I don’t, because I’m not supposed to.”
“Start your own community… but not on FB anymore. Although alternatives are not presented, because, you know, there aren’t any.”
“Start your own podcast >> Interview people with big lists >> Gain raving fans >> Grow your list with subscribers >> Sell-out your programs = Win at Business. LOL! PS: I have zero plans for a podcast.”
“Follow 80/20 rule of content/asking. It’s like, ABA: Always Be Asking. SO MUCH NOISE!!!”
In summary: You are not alone.
Real talk is refreshing because we get to see that we aren’t the only ones trying to navigate through all of the online marketing noise. We can also see that, left unchecked, these messages can create confusion in our business, self-doubt about our decisions, and even impair our ability to move forward with sovereignty in our businesses.
If we’re feeling ‘over it’ when it comes to all the messages that tell us to do #allthethings #allthetime then where do we go from here? It’s not like we can hide from all the noise. No matter how many people we unfollow, unlike or unsubscribe from, social media has a way of sneaking in those salesy ads and sprinkling our feeds with #allthethings.
That’s why we need to talk about discernment. Discernment is the internal process that allows us to make decisions that feel right and true for our business. Rather than measure our decisions against the constant barrage of marketing messages, we can learn to tap into our power of discernment to filter out the distractions, tune out the noise, and focus on our own priorities. In Part 2 of this series, How to Cultivate Greater Discernment, I explore the concept of discernment and pose some important questions that can help you make decisions that feel in alignment with who you are and what will work for your business.