Do You Really Have To Do ALL The Marketing Things?

too-many-choicesFrom the Ask Naomi mailbag:

Hi Naomi,

You don’t know me, but my boyfriend is a reader of yours and he suggested I reach out to you. I’m overwhelmed and I need help.

He said you have some posts on how to manage all the things you’re supposed to be doing. Not like, productivity. More like, all the directions you’re supposed to be going in at once. I have all these people telling me I need to do ALL THE THINGS (FB, Instagram, Twitter, blogging, paid traffic, list, content marketing, etc, etc) in order to succeed and I don’t know how you manage to do all that and sleep.

In short, “argh argh, there are too many things, all the things, all the people say I should do everything argh thud wibble”

I’ve Googled and my Google Fu has come up empty. Can you help?

RJ

Hi RJ!

Ahh. Well, good question. Hmm. Your boyfriend is quite correct. That is the sort of thing I talk about.

However!

I have looked through 6 pages (aka 60 posts) of my own website and even I cannot find anything that meets this description. Therefore, I now give up in defeat. Apparently both he and I believe I have said things on this topic, and neither you nor I can find them. I shall therefore channel my inner W.C. Fields and say, “If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.”

Having said that, I do have some thoughts.

Stop listening.

Simply stop listening.

You see, there are three types of people who give out free, tactical advice on the internet.

Camp Number 1: “I succeeded this way, therefore this is the way to succeed.”

These people achieved whatever they have achieved via one means only (Instagram, say) and therefore are going around saying, “Instagram is the way!”

These people are not simply wrong, but stupid and blind to boot.

They either think the other ways don’t work, or only work as auxiliary strategies, or they don’t even think about them at all because, well, Instagram. It’s the way.

Their cognitive bias is so overwhelming that they ignore all evidence that suggests there are those who have succeeded via any other means.

Camp Number 2: “I will gain something by telling you this is the way to succeed.”

These people may or may not have achieved anything, via this means or any other. But there’s some financial (or social) gain they receive from promoting an ideology. Let’s pretend it’s Instagram again.

There are many ways to gain from promoting a method.

There’s the most direct financial compensation, which might be selling their own product about how Instagram is the grooviest.

There’s indirect financial compensation, which might be making affiliate money promoting somebody else’s product about how Instagram is the grooviest.

There’s future financial compensation, through the law of reciprocity. If I promote Suzie’s product, Instagram Is My Homegirl, Suzie may repay my kindness later.

There’s even the social gain from being an affiliate or advocate of a product or ideology. I promote Suzie’s product and gain standing in her little tribe of disciples.

People in this camp may or may not be malevolent. They may or may not also be in camp number 1. Regardless, they’re too biased to listen to.

Camp 3. “I get there are many roads to Rome, but I will happily teach you the road I know.”

These people are the ones you want to listen to.

They’re not saying Instagram is the way. They’re saying that Instagram is a way, and they’ll teach you if you want it.

This is how most online guru types start out. They really just want to help. But over the years, many come to the conclusion that if they’re not loud and obnoxious and channeling their inner Donald Trump, nobody pays attention. So gradually, nice people who just want to help become irrational, camp number 1 screamers.

(If you find a teacher you like in camp 3, give them money and good feedback. Hopefully they’ll stay nice.)

The first two camps make up the overwhelming majority.

Your experience is a common one. You’re not alone. This comes up a lot.

The thing to realize is that your experience says “all the people say I should do everything”, and I validate that experience. You’re right. That’s what it feels like. There are a lot of people, and they’re all shouting and cajoling, and you’re hearing 100 different things you should be doing.

This is true. But if we look a little closer, we realize that each individual person is generally only shouting about one or two things. This person’s yammering about FB ads and webinars, and this person’s on Instagram, and this one says search, and so on.

If, instead of looking at them as “all the things you should be doing”, you look at them as salespeople selling you their food at a carnival, it becomes a very different situation.

What you actually have is a large group of people shouting, “Buy funnel cakes!” “Buy cotton candy!” “But a corn dog!” “Join PETA!”

Nobody’s saying you have to eat all of them. Each of them just wants you to choose their thing.

It’s the same with marketing strategies, tactics, and ideologies.

In that situation, you go away to a quiet place and narrow down your options. Narrow your options to one or two or three palatable ones that feel like they might be fun and won’t make you go thud.

Then, if you want, go to the people who are shouting about those things and listen to them, or possibly buy their products.

Ignore everything else.

There are some exceptions, certainly. Depending on your line of work, being utterly pathetic at something may be conspicuous, and you may want to remedy that, but that can usually be achieved by hiring something out. But that’s usually just an appearance issue. You won’t actually lose money because you’re not on Twitter. You might look like an idiot if you haven’t been there for three years, or you only show up when you’re launching your latest WhizBangTM. But if you don’t want to do Twitter, don’t do Twitter.

And don’t listen to people who are so blind they honestly think they know the only way. Throw eggs at these people.

Hopefully that helps a little. If nothing else, it gave you something to read in the midst of the thudding.

So You Think Your Marketing Idea Might Be Silly

silly-marketing-ideaSo you think your marketing idea might be silly.

I had a delightful conversation with a woman from Zurich today. She had an idea for the launch of her business – just a little idea, one small tactic for a fun promotional opportunity.

She asked me, “Is that a good idea? Or do you think it’s silly?”

That’s a good question.

One of the most difficult parts of running a business – and in particular starting a business – is having no idea if you’re out of your mind. This applies to everything from domain names to product lines to stationery to the t-shirt you wear to the trade show.

On every conceivable front, you could be totally insane, and you wouldn’t even know it. It’s nice to have somebody to ask the simplest of questions – is this silly?

So I asked her what I always ask in response to this question.

“Is there a downside?”

In almost all cases like this, the answer is no.

Sure, if the idea was “rent a $30,000 booth at the New York book fair”, well, yeah. There’s a downside.

But usually the idea is “put a little bluebird beside the ISBN on the book cover”.

There’s not really much that can go wrong with that one.

One of the reasons we go into business is to be able to do all the little things we weren’t allowed to do before.

In corporate, at school, even on the PTA, there’s always somebody wet-blanketing every tiny nice thing you want to do. It’s stifling, and we crave the independence of being able to put a bluebird anywhere we damn please.

The corporate world was so serious, so grave. Every bluebird needs a planning meeting. We crave being away from it.

But!

We’re so conditioned to that corporate gravity that often, when we become our own bosses, we become our own bosses. We act like they did, because we have no other frame of reference. In the absence of their gravity, we supply our own. Now that they’re not worried about the bluebirds, we worry instead.

That’s fine. That’s normal. You’re not stupid. But there is a way out.

The first step of the way out is to ask:

“Is there a downside?”

If there’s no downside, or you can easily absorb the loss of any predictable downside, go ahead.

You always wanted to advertise your new book on the side of a bus, and you’ve got the money? Go for it. There’s no downside.

You always wanted to package your soap like the woman in Castaway, with the colorful butterflies? Go for it. There’s no downside.

You want to send a little present after every clarity call, and it’ll only cost you $80 a month? Go for it. There’s no downside.

If there’s no downside, or you can easily absorb the loss of any predictable downside, go ahead.

Put your bluebird where you want.

50 Shades of YAY: Ways To Celebrate Success

Champagne - one of the many ways to celebrateYou want ways to celebrate? We’ve got ways to celebrate.

Whatever it is that you’re celebrating probably took a lot out of you and might have been a long time coming. Even if all you did was decide on a domain name, that decision was birthed after a long labor.

Here are fifty ways to celebrate success.

1. Champagne. Good champagne. Special champagne. “Good” and “special” are not price categories – they’re subjective feelings. Buy the champagne that feels good to you.

2. Send yourself flowers. Real flowers. The ones that are delivered by a florist. I have spent years buying little grocery store bouquets for myself and then I was sent flowers as a gift for finishing Money, Money, Money. The difference was incalculable. For the price of an ugly sweater you will never wear, you can get the kind of flowers that make you feel like a princess.

3. Play. Play with your kids, play with your partner. Play tennis. Play scrabble. Play house. Just play with your whole heart for a while. Put your whole self into it, drop the Responsible Adult BS, and play something.

4. Book a spa treatment you wouldn’t normally get. Yes, the pedicure is apparently the go-to pampering purchase, but it’s just never been my bag. I figure if you can get it for twenty bucks in a strip mall, it might not be the best reward for finishing a launch that nearly killed you. Scrubs, wraps, specialty massages – look at the special stuff you don’t normally do.

5. Dinner at the special place. If you never go out to eat, you can probably go anywhere and it’ll make for a good celebration. If you go out all the time, you’re going to have to pull out the stops if you want it to count as a reward or celebration. Try for “wow” rather than “good”.

6. Clean. I don’t know about you, but when I’m working, basic standards tend to suffer. In my twisted world, a few hours to really clean says to my psyche, “Behold! Feel the luxury! You have time to SCRUB THINGS!” Your mileage may vary.

7. Leave town. There’s something about a different location that says “special”, even if what you’re doing when you get there is pretty normal. Yes, you can stay there for a few days, but you can also just get in the car and go to a small tourist town for oh-so-cute lunch and then come home.Ways to celebrate - take a vacation

8. Put a deposit down. If what you did deserves a big “yay” but you’ve only got the time or money for a smaller one, consider putting a deposit down on a future experience. Maybe you can’t go to Cozumel next week – but you can book a future trip. All the buzz of celebration for 10% of the cost – this is one of my favorite ways to celebrate.

9. Do something you don’t have time for anymore. Remember being in your late teens and early twenties? Remember that stuff you liked to do? If you’re like most people, you don’t really remember because you haven’t done it in so long. Go to an art gallery or read a Harlequin or watch a creepy foreign film. Do that stuff that you used to do all the time but stopped when you grew up and got responsible.

10. Give a gift – energy, time or money. If what you’ve accomplished has impacted other people, this might be a beautiful time to give them something to show you appreciate them, and also to suck up. Partners, children, and even pets give up a lot so you can have a business you love – celebrate by giving them something that matters. (Also, I have noticed that partners and children who are spontaneously given wonderful things and told, “This is because we’re celebrating!” tend to be a lot more supportive in the future. Just saying.)

11. Donate – time or money. This is one of my favorite ways to celebrate, because there is huge symbolism in this. If you celebrate by giving of yourself to those in greater need, you reinforce to your subconscious that you do not lack. This is huger than huge.

12. Make plans. Strategy and long-term planning are often the first things to go (well, other than cleaning, above) when you’re in the midst of working towards something significant. When you’re celebrating a milestone, give yourself the gift of time and make big plans. Plan a vacation, plan Christmas, plan your kitchen renovation. Hell, plan your trip to the mall. The fact that you finally have time to plan is worth celebrating in itself.

13. Buy yourself something “only rich people” buy. I don’t care if it’s an $1800 coat, an $18 cocktail or a $1.80 heritage tomato – do something only rich people get.Ways to celebrate - buy something nice

14. Consume, rather than create. You and I are in a line of work that taxes our creation energies near constantly. Give yourself the gift of consuming something somebody ELSE created. Maybe it’s a movie, maybe it’s a play, maybe it’s a dorky training program. (*raises hand guiltily* You should SEE the junk I’ve bought in the last three months. It’s just such a relief that I wasn’t the one who had to make it. I’m gorging on terrible info products.) However you do it, let them entertain you for a while.

15. Get a sitter and do something. Yes, you can do something totally awesome, but if you’re new at Taking Time For Your Damn Self Already, you’ll probably do something totally lame. That’s fine. It’s a learnable skill. Start learning it now.

16. Give yourself a raise. If your finances are organized enough that you’re taking an official salary, give yourself a raise. Your boss would give you a raise, wouldn’t she? Well, you’re the boss now. Act like it.

17. Brag. Tell someone, or several someones, about your awesome celebration. If you are telling a person, try to find someone who thinks you are fantastic, which probably rules your mother out. If you’re telling several someones, try Facebook. Good news is always good, and you might get a bunch of comments and likes that will make you feel like you’re having a party. (My favorite parties are the ones where I don’t have to leave my house, or even wear pants. Note to self: Spend more time on Facebook.)

18. Get grateful. Write, speak, make a collage, do an interpretive dance – somehow record all of the people and circumstances that helped you along your way. Jenna helped me by letting me bounce ideas off her. James helped me brainstorm alternatives. Mike kept my spirits up. My mom watched the kids. With each consciously considered inclusion, you reinforce the significance of what you achieved, and how many people want you to succeed. Heady stuff.Ways to celebrate - say thank you

19. Eat ice cream. Remember when you were a kid and you did something special and somebody took you out for ice cream?* You DID something special and somebody SHOULD take you out for ice cream. Be that person. (*I had a milk allergy as a child, so I got taken out for sliced bananas in a cone. My parents were very creative.)

20. Alternatively (or additionally), purchase a cake. Like, a cake. A cake that you have to go to the counter and get them to write on. If Bertha in HR can have a retirement cake, you can have a “Holy Lord, she finally finished the book” cake. YOU ARE A GROWN ADULT. YOU ARE ALLOWED TO HAVE CAKE NOW.

21. Brazenly self-promote. Channel your inner PT Barnum and use your celebration as an opportunity to hawk your wares. Finished the book? Store sale!!! Finished the redesign? Store sale!!! Brushed your teeth? Store sale!!! (Note: Some people get cranky when you do this. Those people suck.)

22. Keep a promise to yourself. Multi-task celebrating with crossing an item off of your bucket list. Depending on your resources, this can be big or it can be tiny. But try to avoid thinking only in tiny. Maybe swimming with dolphins in Hawaii really IS the best way to celebrate your success. Awesome stuff is not just for other people, you know.

23. Wreck something. If your celebration involves the end of something, consider destroying it. I’ve heard of start-up CEOs smashing through walls with sledgehammers when they expand into a bigger space. I’ve heard of happy divorcees burning their wedding dress. I make a big fuss of shredding my notes when the product is done. Is there something you can symbolically destroy?

24. Frame it. If you wrote a book, get the cover blown up to poster size. If you got your drivers’ license, frame the letter. There are box frames, too. Ain’t NOTHING you can’t frame.

25. Read something completely unnecessary, something you never let yourself read. Saturday newspapers and special interest magazines are good choices here.reading a book

26. Create a mini-celebration anchor. If something is small but still worth giving yourself a visceral high-five, do something sensory to celebrate – songs are a good choice, as is dancing. Do it a few times and you anchor the song to the feeling. (Mine are Timber and Land Down Under and One Night In Bangkok. Seriously. Listen to them. HOW CAN YOU NOT BE HAPPY RIGHT NOW?)

27. Get a plaque made. Remember when your dad got Employee of the Month and his boss gave him that dorky plaque? You run the business, now. The dorky plaque will not present itself. You need to take charge of the dorky plaque situation. You’re the boss here, remember?

28. Make your own souvenir. You know when you go to a festival or something, and you get that awesome t-shirt so you can remember the moment? Your success is way cooler than that festival. It deserves a t-shirt, too.

29. Make a copy. If you launched a digital product, consider having a physical copy made. Get a DVD printed, put your ebook in paperback, or make a CD set. Digital’s great and all, and I love living in the Matrix as much as the next girl, but sometimes you need something you can hold.

30. Make a change. If your success is particularly meaningful or a major life milestone, you’re now a different person. Maybe you made your first sale, maybe all your kids made it to college, maybe you got a divorce. This would be a very good time for new hair. Or a new BMW.

31. Have a party. Have an actual party to which actual humans are invited*. Clearly state the reason for the party in all available ways. Write that it’s a celebration party on the invitations. Hang a Congratulations! banner. Give a speech. This would be a great place for that cake, incidentally. (*If you are an INFJ, you may eliminate human guests and substitute them with pets, providing you retain all of the other elements. Yes, including the speech.)

Ways to celebrate - have a party

32. Upgrade something. Choose one of the tools associated with your success, and bring it into the big leagues. A stunning grown-up pen, a sparkly new iPhone (don’t forget the case!), even a pro set of weights. Remember – fabulous people deserve fabulous things.

33. Drink heavily. One of the preferred ways to celebrate for everyone from frat boys to Auntie Mame. Granted, this one’s not for everyone, but neither are pedicures or bubble baths. Drink like you did when you graduated. Drink things with “bomb” in the name. Do shooters. Get crazy.

34. Do nothing. Quit. Quit everything. Quit all the things. You’re not taking the day off, you’re taking the day off from life. No email. No shower. No cooking. Go on a No bender.

35. Dress up. You wrote a book? Congratulations, today is Author Day and costumes are mandatory. (Also? Dress Up Day is a GREAT day to get new headshots.)

36. Get a tattoo. Each of the members of the country music band, the Dixie Chicks, got a tattoo of a chick’s footprint with every number one single. Keith Urban calls his ways to celebrate “little signposts along the way”. Throughout history and across many cultures, tattoos have been used to signify major life events. Maybe it’s time to get yours.

37. Jewelry. Even for men. I’m not going to say you can’t go wrong with jewelry because, um, yes. Yes, you can. But you ALMOST can’t go wrong with jewelry. Try for symbolism, explicit or implied. (Alternatively, engrave existing jewelry. As far as I’m concerned, AUTHOR is an excellent addition to any piece of fine gold.)Ways to celebrate - new jewelry

38. Upgrade your budget. Every time someone runs their first six figure launch and celebrates with a new mousepad, all the puppies whimper. When you go into a new salary bracket, you’re allowed to spend your money differently. Now’s the time to go to the better grocery store or register at the luxe gym. Isn’t that why you were trying to make all that money in the first place?

39. Purge and declutter. You’re riding high on your success and you feel like you can do anything. Take this time to purge and declutter to clear the space for more success. The bigger the thing (old Bowflex, I’m looking at you), the more satisfying it feels.

40. Start a new journal. When you’ve just achieved something, huge or tiny, it’s an amazing time to restart your journaling habit. Set a positive intention moving forward into the future by starting right now, when you feel amazing.

41. Change your screensaver and phone backgrounds to visually represent your awesomeness. Admit it – the lotus flower was getting old. Go for something that represents how great you feel, so you can feel it again later. This can be anything from an aspirational picture of the Bali resort on your vision board to “Jessica Jones, Published Author”.

42. Buy (or finally use) a Grown Up Thing. You know that thing you said you’d do when you were grown up and successful? Maybe you were going to make tea the Japanese way, or listen to real classical music, or eat from adult plates. You ARE grown up and you ARE successful. (See? You just succeeded!) Do something today that you always said you’d do.

43. Physically restore yourself. Pay attention to your body, your soma. Everybody and their schnauzer is telling you to take a bubble bath, but maybe you hate bubble baths. So how about a run? Or a three hour walk? Or a hot yoga class? (Go really crazy and pay the drop-in rate. Madness!) Do something nice for the body that puts up with all your crap for decades on end.Ways to celebrate - take care of your body

44. Keep it with you wherever you go. Think of three traits or strengths you drew upon to succeed in this endeavor. Bravery? Wisdom? Strategy? Faith? Write them down and put them somewhere you’ll see them all the time – a sticky on your monitor, a note in your wallet. Keep it with you all the time to remember you have those strengths all the time.

45. Update (or finally make) a work music playlist. Get a few dozen songs in there that represent kicking ass and taking names. Do it now, while you’re in a good mood. You’ll need it later when you’re thinking you suck.

46. Get a makeover – hair, clothes, makeup, whatever. Give someone money in exchange for making you look better than you did before. This works for both men and women. Ask whoever’s helping you for tips on highlighting your best features. (You can also ask them what your best features are. Then you get compliments while you’re there!)

47. Do something unboring, right where you are. Even if you can’t get out of town, do something great, right where you are. Take advantage of your surroundings and do something you don’t normally do. Restaurants! Theatres! Bars! Comedy clubs! (I have recently been informed that my city has an orchestra, and has for 43 years. Who knew? I didn’t know, because I was sitting around like a stick in the mud, thinking my home town was totally pathetic and rolling my eyes like a teenager. Mature, I know.)

48. Take new pictures. File this one under Ways To Celebrate That Also Count As Business Write-offs. You may want to combine this with makeovers and upgrades to really do it up. Unless you’ve had pictures taken in the last year, you could use new pictures. If you’ve recently accomplished something fantastic, you could definitely use new pictures. (Hot tip: Consider paying money for them. Radical, I know.)

49. Take a crazy adventure. Celebrate your newfound expansion of awesome by… expanding your awesome. Go ziplining. Jump out of a plane. Hell, just rent a convertible and mess up your hair. The universe loves synchronicity

50. Retire early. If your accomplishment is huge, well, technically you really could retire early. But for smaller accomplishments, try smaller retirements. Think of that list of things you’ll do when you retire – go golfing, take a watercolor class, do a wine tour. Got it? Great. Now pick one. The future is now, baby.

So there you have it. 50 ways to celebrate success.

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