I’m in Vancouver sitting at yet another favourite hang out spot here – Eternal Abundance (full of raw vegan goodness, comfy chairs, high ceilings and lots of natural light). I love places like this.
And something clicked for me this weekend. I’m calling it ‘Slow Marketing’. You’ve likely heard about the Slow Food movement (from which I borrow this colourful snail) and Carol Honore’s book In Praise of Slow.
And, for some reason, I’d never considered how that might apply to marketing.
But, over the weekend, I was sharing how marketing is like baseball and that we can’t ‘skip bases’ in building our relationships with people. First there needs to be clarity, then trust, then some excitement . . . and then a commitment. It can take time to build relationships with our clients. Some things can’t be rushed.
And one woman expressed her thanks, ‘I’d never considered that before.’ Something about knowing that it was okay to go slow felt confirming of her best instincts and affirming that she hadn’t failed just because she’d not gotten immediate results.
Most marketing we see is so fast.
Lynn Serafinn wrote a beautiful book called The Seven Graces of Marketing where she contrasts the common place sins of marketing with the potential graces of marketing. One of the sins she talks about is scarcity. And so much marketing is based on creating a sense of scarcity, ‘act now while supplies last’. We see seminars full of people rushing to the back of the room to sign up for a next level workshop they don’t fully understand and can’t entirely afford (and that may or may not be a fit).
So much rushing.
And it seems to work. But what you don’t end up seeing is the huge numbers of people who get ‘buyers remorse’ and cancel their participation in the programs. Or go to it and then ask for a refund because it wasn’t a fit (and then become extremely bitter when they can’t get a refund). What we sometimes fail to notice is the cynicism these tactics create in the marketplace. And the low level panic we all live in.
I remember when I first started in sales, it certainly wasn’t something I knew. I was cold calling people and trying to pressure them into making decisions. It was all I knew how to do. I thought you had to do that. Of course, it was all under the auspices of empowering them. But pressure is pressure. And it was all so fast moving. It wasn’t until years later that I began to learn that by slowing my marketing down it worked better.
It’s like irrigating a field, the slower you drip in the water the deeper it goes.
But so much marketing is so fast. It’s ‘buy now’ and ‘closing people’ and ‘converting prospects’ and creating ‘irresistible offers’. It’s ‘double your income in 30 days’ and ‘lose 50 pounds overnight!’
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people express shock that I’ve not written a book yet or developed more ‘advanced level’ seminars. But I knew I wasn’t ready yet – I was still cooking. I knew I was still figuring out what I wanted to say. And I knew that, eventually, something would click and I’d be ready and that things would flow fast.
I remember being told about the Chinese bamboo tree. You plant it and you don’t see anything grow for five years. Even though you’re doing everything right. And then, in the 5th year, it grows ninety feet in ninety days. Some of us are like that.
It’s the tortoise, not the hare.
Martin Luther (the founder of Lutheranism) used to meet with important people and had an aide who would help him organize these things. One day, his aide looked in awe at the number of important meetings and things he had to do and said to Martin Luther, “Tomorrow is so busy that I suppose you will only be able to spend half an hour in meditation instead of your usual hour.” And Luther responded, “No. Tomorrow is so important I will spend two hours in meditation.”
The higher the stakes feel, the more tempting it is to move fast . . . and the more important it is to slow things down.
Panic is not a business strategy.
What would happen if we all. slowed. down. our marketing?
Here’s what Slow Marketing means for me . . .
It means that we can accept that sometimes it will take a while to build trust with people we’ve just met.
It means that instead of pressuring people to buy right now, we encourage them to sleep on it and sit with it to make sure it’s really a fit (so that any clients we get are solid and long term).
It means that when we sit with a client to explore going to the next level with us – we really sit with them. We take them in. We receive what they have to say. We pause before responding.
And that means that we really take time to sit with what kinds of clients are actually a perfect fit for us.
It means we remember that, in terms of relationships with clients, forever matters more than today.
It means that we’re okay being an apprentice for a time. We’re okay learning the ropes and not needing to be ‘discovered’ and famous tomorrow.
It means that we don’t rush to write our book, create our products but slow down a bit so we can focus on crafting what we do to make it even better so that it really helps people more. We work on building our boat instead of trying to swim people from one island to another on our back. We build up the systems and checklists in our business that help us relax and know that we’ll be prepared for things as they come.
It means we don’t just accept that we sometimes need to slow down, but that we enjoy it. We relish in it.
It means it might be okay (even wonderful!) for us to have a day job while we build our business up.
It means that we acknowledge and honour each potential client’s unique right timing to work with us (or not).
It means we slow ourselves down, get still inside and let go of the panic that comes from posturing or collapsing. That we create space in our lives where we can and listen to our intuition.
It means we let emails to our list sit overnight instead of sending them out immediately.
It means we run our marketing ideas by friends and colleagues before trotting them out to the market place. We let things sit.
It means we plan further ahead to give ourselves time.
It means that we get really good at finding ways to make our business safe to approach for people and easy to buy from us. We give them lots of ways to sample what we do for free, from a distance. We do what we can to reduce the risk for people.
It means we slow down our conversations with potential clients and really listen. Instead of pushing, we lean back. Instead of starting to give advice, we get more curious about their situation. Instead of skipping over a challenge, we go deeply into exploring it.
It means that we focus on building and deepening our relationship to key hubs and community leaders instead of trying to reach our clients cold.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on what ‘Slow Marketing’ means for you. You can write them in the comments below. But no rush.