Consistency trumps everything in marketing.
Today, I’d like to demystify marketing for you.
Despite what you hear and read, people aren’t goldfish. The predominant narrative goes something like this: “You’ve got eight seconds. You’re marketing to goldfish, so be memorable.”
Talk about pressure!
The stakes seem SO high, and so most freelancers make the default choice and do nothing. Rather than market “incorrectly,” they don’t do any marketing.
Now I recognize that other factors come into play here: poor time management, weak positioning, messaging that misses the mark, and so on.
Even so, the only way to guarantee that your marketing will fail is to not do any marketing. Consistency trumps everything in marketing. Better to market incorrectly, to keep marketing incorrectly, and to still trip over some wins, then to do nothing… perfectly.
Pick a strategy, any strategy.
If you were to pick a single strategy — for example, attending startup-related events in your city — and stick with it for two years, you would get new freelance clients.
Would-be clients need repeated exposure to you. Consistency grows into familiarity. Familiarity makes way for warmth and affection. Warmth deepens into trust.
Or, to put it more simply, most people need time to make up their minds and part with their dollars.
Your first Facebook update, special promotion, or email newsletter probably won’t make a deep and lasting impression.
But consistent exposure is different.
The goldfish way of thinking ignores how people actually behave. Think about this because it is true in your life.
You hear about a new restaurant in town after a friend ate there and had a good experience.
Do you drop everything and drive across town? No. At least, not yet.
Later, another friend raves about the Bahn mi.
Then, you actually drive past the place on your way to a coffeeshop.
Then, a local blogger you follow writes a positive review.
Then, you get hungry. And you’ve got some birthday cash burning a hole in your pocket, and Thursday night is date night.
So you treat your spouse to dinner.
My point is that we very rarely make eight-second decisions about anything.
Have you ever hired a graphic designer you knew for eight seconds? And have you ever sat down and read a book for longer than eight seconds?
No. And yes.
As soon as you part ways with the goldfish myth, you will turn a new corner and realize that you don’t need the perfect offer or even the perfect timing — though both can help.
You need consistency because consistency increases the likelihood that you will be at the right place at the right time. If you keep throwing pebbles at a hole in a log, you will eventually sink one.
Yesterday, an old acquaintance bought my travel hacking workshop.
When did I start promoting the workshop and record it live? July.
Why did she wait five months?
I have no clue. Perhaps she forgot. Perhaps she needed to save her money for more important purchases. Perhaps an upcoming trip gave her a new sense of urgency about saving money on travel.
Regardless, she knew about the workshop, and she eventually bought it. In fact, she paid $20 more because I raised the original price.
Does that jive with the goldfish myth?
- We see hundreds of marketing message a day.
- Technology and overexposure have killed our attention span.
- You’ve only got eight seconds to grab attention.
- If you don’t grab attention right then, you have lost.
C’mon. Human beings are two-dimensional like that. Cardboard cutouts of our supposed behavior may make for good clickbait, but out in the wild, where people are acting both rationally and irrationally, where they make snap judgments and then later change their minds, our purchasing decisions (and effective marketing, by association) have more dimension, nuance, texture, and richness.
A kind of fatalism has taken over marketing — “If you don’t snag their attention instantly, then you’re screwed.” — and it reduces marketing to hooks and gimmicks.
“You never have a second chance at a first impression,” Mr. Marketing Guru warns you.
So turn up the volume! Make the colors pop! And be sure to add some boobs and explosions!
People have always been and always will be more sophisticated than that.
Marketing gimmicks will disgust many of the most sophisticated people who would have made great clients precisely because they are discerning, fair-minded, and value-conscious.
What if you set aside your tackle box full of hooks for a moment and spoke from the heart?
What if you worked from the assumption that most people are shopping for authenticity?
What if you believed that you had plenty of time to make a good impression?
My wife would tell you that I didn’t make a strong first impression — or at least, not a positive one — and our second interaction was worse.
Even though I made a negative impression, we later become friends. Then, we joined our lives together. Eight years later, we have a beautiful marriage and three children.
Marketing isn’t reeling people in so that you can pick their pockets, and marketing isn’t speed dating.
Speed dating says, “You’ve got a tiny opportunity to dazzle her, or she disappears forever.”
People in healthy marriages say, “Every fantastic first date doesn’t end in a marriage, and some duds do. Just try to be yourself”
Here’s the truth about marketing:
- Old impressions fade, and new impressions replace them.
- Real people — as opposed to cardboard cutouts — do give second, third, and seventy-seventh chances.
- Marketers do make mistakes, and people in their target audience forgive them.
If you make a bad impression, and then disappear, people obviously won’t buy from you. But if you make a bad impression, and then keep showing up, then many people will change their minds.
Like old-fashioned dating, marketing is giving each individual a chance to care.
Despite the occasional zit, off-color joke, and painful conversation, the two parties may find, to their mutual surprise, that they can find a working arrangement.
If you want more freelance clients, then pick a strategy, any strategy. Stick to it. Be authentic. You can make mistakes and still get clients.
The only real mistake is doing nothing… perfectly.
Do you want to get serious about your marketing today?
A good next step is to use my “Attracting Better Clients” worksheet to rethink your marketing and to start connecting with the freelance clients you actually want—that is, the ones who will pay you what you’re worth.
Click this link to share your name and email address, and I’ll send you the download link for the worksheet.