What I’m about to tell you might kill my business, but I have to say it: I’m done (yes, you can stick a fork in me).
I’ve never wanted to build an empire — at least not one whose sole purpose was “bigger, better marketing.” And a 4-hour work week? Puh-lease. Those of you who read this blog on a regular basis already know I’ve got a love-hate relationship with the work that I do. That I’m advocate for Slow Marketing and creating your own recipes. You know I love-love-love helping my clients find clarity about who they are, what their message is, and how to share that with the world. For cryin’ out loud — my newsletter’s called the PB&J! (Purpose-Brand & Joy)
But so much about marketing drives me batty
The fact that “Internet Marketing” has become an industry unto itself, for one thing. Yes, Virginia. The Internet Marketing Industrial Complex is a real thing. And much of it is pure unadulterated crap. There’s too much focus on things like traffic and conversions and not enough on relationships. I’m exhausted with topics like “branding” and “lead generation.” I’m done being worried about SEO or SERPs (even when they’re dressed up like Hummingbirds and Penguins). I’m bored with talk about content and social media strategies. And honestly, I don’t give a ratatouille how big my list is (or how big yours is, either). Also…? I’m done. Wouldn’t you like to be, too?
How I Got Here
I love words and pictures. Stories. Heroes on a mission. I totally groove on the whole communicating thing. And the Connecting with Other Humans thing. On getting to know you and your purpose. Those strengths are what turned me into a marketer in the first place. In the early days of my career, I was o-so-dutiful: I took marketing classes at the university and joined professional associations and focused on understanding things like benchmarks and best practices. I wore pantyhose and went to meetings and developed fabulous strategies for my employers.
Eventually though? I left the corporate world of spin and crazy-making for the world of good (i.e. nonprofits and local governments). Still wearing pantyhose…but even there, I was more embroiled in politics and personalities than accomplishing things that mattered. When Life offered me a chance to do my own thing, I created a marketing agency (aka Social Good Marketing) and recommitted to using my superpowers only for good.
Two things killed that first business:
1. I spent too much time chasing contractors and employees than I did creating work that mattered (again!). and
2. I learned the hard way that there are those who use “doing good” as a cover for grabbing your money. (I thought that only happened in big organizations and governments! Imagine my surprise…) Basically, I found just because I can do something, doesn’t mean I should do it. AND even more important?
That it’s uber-critical to keep my values aligned with the work I’m doing. [Funny thing is the Universe keeps giving me opportunities to prove I’ve learned those lessons. I bet you’ve noticed that happens to you, too?]
This iteration of my business (Word Chef) was built on a different model: teaching and coaching. (Yep, I’m more in the teach-a-gal-to-fish camp.) I knew what I wanted to do so that’s where I focused my efforts. I even recently came to understand WHY that’s the particular place I get my jollies. It’s huge when you know the underlying reason for what lights you up. But something big is still out of alignment. If I’m honest, I’ve felt it for way over a year, now. I’ve ranted about the craziness of blueprints and roadmaps, sure. But it’s more than that.
It’s time to hang up my “marketing” hat
Our world needs a new word for what you and I do to promote ourselves and our businesses. I need a new word for what I want to do with and for you. Call it semantics, but the word marketing feels like fingernails on a chalkboard to me — does it bug you, too? Unfortunately, there aren’t many options in our limited English language to talk about this thing called “marketing.” Believe me, I’ve looked. I’ve checked several Thesauri and I’m stumped. I’ve asked around on social media but the best I could find was “to educate.” I thought maybe I’d find some insights by looking at the feelings and connotations you have with me and my business.
Remember this little survey? The responses you gave amazed me. Many of you shared similar thoughts and ideas: When asked what emotion you felt when thinking of The Word Chef, several of you gave me a variation of “safe.” One person even told me she felt like I was “comfort food.” But if you’ve ever hired me, you know I’m much more of a “feet-to-the-fire” kind of person. I want evidence. Finished projects. Outcomes.
So how can I be both a “hard ass” and “comfort food” at the same time? And why should any of this matter to you? Do you care if what we do together is called “marketing” or “storytelling” or something else? I really do. I keep coming back to stories. Words, pictures and inspirational heroes. Curiosity. Inspiration. And our connections to each other. All feeding and nourishing us just like a good meal. At heart, I’m a storyteller (and a storylistener!).
And knowing these simple facts about who I am and what I love — knowing them in my heart — means I know what I need to focus on: helping you find and tell your best stories. So yes, things are going to shift around here BIG time. The curriculum in the Digital Dining Room is definitely gonna change. There’ll be a lot more emphasis on using words and pictures (even audio and video) more effectively. I hope you’re ready to join me and give up the marketing-as-usual shenanigans being talked about everywhere else. AND I hope you’ll help me form and shape this new iteration into something delicious we can share with each other — and the rest of the entrepreneurial world.
Are you in? If so, I’d love to hear from you in a comment below. Even better? Share a bit about your experience with storytelling and whether or not you think focusing on that (as a skill) might be useful to you and your business (and what you’d specifically like to learn, if you know).