Alice has a dilemma. She has designed an amazing workshop that’s perfect for the clients she loves to work with, but she’s feeling awkward around how to promote it authentically. Every time she goes to mention it – by email, on social media, in conversation – she can’t seem to shake the notion that she’s annoying people.
And yet, if she doesn’t let people know about the workshop, she feels she’s letting them down. She knows she needs to give them the opportunity to hear about it and decide for themselves if they want the benefits. She also knows that if she doesn’t sell enough places, the workshop can’t run and she won’t get paid and she’ll feel less confident about leaving the job she hates.
How can Alice promote this great offering without becoming an annoying spammer?
And how can you promote your products and services, authentically and freely?
The key is to promote to an email list that has given you permission to do so
You’ve probably heard marketing coaches (like me) banging on about your “email list” like it’s the be all and end all for growing your business. And in many ways it is. One reason is that a professionally managed email list (in other words, using software like Aweber or Mailchimp) is one of the strongest vehicles for “permission marketing”.
Let’s backtrack… Once upon a time, the world became saturated with what’s known as “interruption marketing”. A lot of the marketing messages we’re confronted with on a daily basis would fall into this category – for example, an advert on the side of a bus, in a magazine or on TV, or a flyer you get through the door.
These “interrupt” your experience. You didn’t ask to see a large film poster on the bus stop, you were enjoying looking at the scenery going past. You may have absolutely zero interest in that film – for example, it’s a horror film and you hate horror films.
“Permission marketing”, on the other hand, is about communicating with people who have said they want to hear from you. They voluntarily give you their email address (for example, by signing up on your website or on a sheet of paper you pass round at an event) because they want you to send them useful content. They know that much of this content will be free (like blog posts, videos, webinars or teleclasses) and that some will be information about paid offerings. That suits them just fine because the services you’re offering are likely to be useful for them – they’ll be solutions to needs they have.
If you have felt uncomfortable emailing people about your offerings, it’s important to check your set-up. If you’re using your regular email account (like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo or AOL) and are sharing the information with all your contacts, it can feel like spamming because those people haven’t asked to receive the information. It’s unsolicited and they also don’t have an easy, polite way of unsubscribing.
With a professionally managed email list, people can easily unsubscribe. They can take their permission away at any point – namely, by clicking the “unsubscribe” link in any email you send.
This means that anyone who stays on your list is telling you that you can keep communicating with them. So, do!
Disclaimer: Maybe some interruption – or disruption – is okay
Even with permission marketing, you are still interrupting in a way – in a good way. You are interrupting the reader’s norm with the message that something else is possible for them. You are disrupting their notion that things have to stay as they are: stuck, painful, unsatisfactory or unfulfilling.
This was an insight I got from one of my brilliant one-to-one coaching clients, Nancy Murphy Spicer, who supports women who are mothers to create space for their own life and passions. When promoting her new workshop Pamper Your Soul & Claim Your Passion she realised that her promotional messages had a positively disruptive impact. She says,
“Maybe that’s what this work is about for me… disrupting the norms of how mums are expected
to operate… giving endlessly and selflessly to others. Yes, I want to disrupt those notions!”
Could you disrupt the notion that back pain or RSI is forever? Could you disrupt the belief that divorce is the only solution? Could you disrupt the notion that writing a book is hard or that a stammer will always hold someone back?
Just as your subscribers are giving you permission to market to them, give yourself full permission to let others know about what you offer. Give yourself permission to disrupt their unsatisfactory norms. Take this as your mantra: “It’s okay to let people know I exist and that I have something of value to offer”.
Over to you
What ways of marketing are you already using that feel “permission” based? When marketing has felt icky, was it because permission wasn’t there? How do you imagine it would feel different to communicate with people who actively want to hear about what you offer? Leave a comment below, let us know…
(And if you’re a mum who’s aching for time for YOU, then do check out Nancy’s upcoming Pamper Your Soul & Claim Your Passion workshop, taking place on Saturday 19th May in London. Feel it will positively disrupt a way of being that doesn’t work for you? Book your place!)
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© Corrina Gordon-Barnes, 2012