Don’t Market Yourself. Market Your Message.


13285456_sa concise, 42-page eBook exploring a stress-reducing, clarifying and liberating approach to marketing



If you have a business, you are going to be known for something.

It’s inevitable.

The question is this: will you be known for the right things and will your reputation bring you the kinds of clients you want?

Not always.

But what if you could be known not just for what you do but for the message that underwrites it?

Your message to the world can actually be one of the most powerful things you can be known for.

And so here is the message of this book: Don’t market yourself. Market your message.

That was a phrase I heard from my colleague Morgana Rae (whose message is: “make money by putting love first”). Something in it made sense to me. It stuck with me like a burr in some hand knit, wool sweater.

It was this idea that, instead of standing up in front of a group and trying to convince them that I was worthy of their attention, I could just speak about something that I found worthy of my own attention. That instead of pitching myself, an uncomfortable proposition for all involved at the best of times, I could pitch an idea; instead of making the case to work with me I could make the case for their considering an important message.

And then I was looking at my colleague Mark Silver’s Heart of Business website where it stated his core message so clearly: “every act of business can be an act of love.” So clear. So evocative. So meaningful.

For a while now I’ve been thinking about the message that “marketing can feel good” and noticing the resonance that has with people far beyond talking about marketing tactics and tools.

I’ve noticed that when I share the message that “marketing is a vital part of doing good in the world,” it resonates with people. When people understand that marketing can actually feel wonderful, warm, and be a force for building community and expressing our values, that people light up.

I’ve noticed that the businesses I’m most drawn to tend to have some sort of a message they’re spreading.

Expression without a message is just noise.

So, what is a message?

Well let’s start off with what a message is not.

A message is not a promise of a result. It’s not empathy for your clients’ struggles. And it’s not just a statement of values. It’s not a slogan like Movember’s “Changing the face of men’s health.” Your message isn’t about you. It’s about something bigger than you.

It’s not a full-blown point of view either. Your message is like the title of a book about your point of view.

Your message isn’t the deeper cause or “why” of your business, though it’s related to that. For instance, the deeper cause of my own business is “right livelihood” but the message is “marketing can feel good.”

Your message is like the words on a coat of arms; a motto or tagline. It takes your whole platform and point of view and distills it down to seed form.

It’s the thing you can’t help but talk about and, inevitably, steer every conversation towards.

One client wrote me years ago and said,

“Tad, thank you for these amazing posts – as someone who recently accidentally launched the wrong business :) your ideas are so helpful to me in narrowing down the right one.  I can see it now in a simple way, I wasn’t ‘on message’ – my business wasn’t having the conversation I really want to have!  I chose something easier, less personal and not half interesting enough to me.  ‘Message’ just feels like the conversation you want to have for the next fifty years… yay! too excited to sleep now.”

A message is an idea that you are so passionate about that you find yourself reading about it, listening to TED Talks about it, yet . . . you feel like there’s still something missing that you want to see brought out into the world.

It’s the drum you beat. It’s your core thesis you want to prove. It’s an idea you know that, if it were embraced on a mass level, would change the world. If this message were really “gotten” there’d be so much less suffering. It’s the way things oughta be.

A message is often the words you wish you’d really understood when you were younger and struggling. It’s the words you really want a particular group of people to hear.

Your message is likely the answer to this question: “What would your TED Talk be about?” Every TED Talk is about an idea. Some might feature projects – but they all have a crystal clear message in them. Something simple, direct, easy to understand, and uplifting.

There’s a point to it. 

Standing up at the front of a room and pitching people is just saying, “buy from me!” But sharing a message is saying, “Whether or not you buy from me, I want you to know _______ because it will make your life and the world a better place.” And that’s attractive. It’s coming from a place of giving, not trying to get anything.

Your message is your medicine.

It might take you a while to find it. And, in the process, you’ll likely come to find that, even though your business may be guided by one particular overall message, it contains many messages nested within it like eggs in a bird’s nest, or treasure in a treasure chest. Or maybe it’s more that your core message is a tapestry seen from a distance but, as you get closer you can see the individual threads.

Ten Reasons to Identify Your Core Message:

REASON #1: Speaking about your message is more comfortable and inspiring for everyone than being pitched to.

REASON #2: Your message is more relevant to people than your best pitch.

REASONS #3: People are more likely to share (and discuss) a message than a product or a service.

REASON #4: Your message builds trust.

REASON #5: Your message gives you more attractive things to share (by being a thread that weaves all of your content together).

REASON #6: A message is a good “client filter.”

REASON #7: Your message will get you invited to speak whereas a compellingly laid out “pitch” for your high end services won’t. 

REASON #8: A message is something you can become known for.

REASON #9: A clear message makes you more flexible. It gives you a center of gravity. 

REASON #10: A clear message helps you get found. As Seth Godin put it, “Al Gore started leading his tribe when he didn’t know who they were. He stated his message and people found him.”

This eBook is there to help you make progress on identifying your own message.

In this eBook you will:

  • read many examples of real-world messages from businesses
  • learn about the six kinds of messages
  • be guided in exercises to identify your own message
  • learn five ways you can apply your message that will build trust and credibility between you and your clients

You can buy it here:

Cost: $20 USD