The Five Fundamentals
Over the past decade or so, it’s become clear to me that there are five fundamentals most entrepreneurs need to go through to have their marketing feel good (to themselves and potential clients) and to be effective.
My goal in this letter is to help you understand a bit more about how I see marketing in an overall sense (for what it’s worth), see if I’m a fit to help you and help you to clarify your own understanding of marketing (much more important).
Six Reasons To Focus On The Fundamentals Of Your Business
Reason #1: Because it will save you time. Every hour you spend on the foundations of your business could save you ten over the next couple of years and hundreds over the coming decades.
Reason #2: Because it will save you money. Every dollar you spend on the foundations of your business will save you hundreds over the next couple of years and thousands over the coming decades.
Reason #3: Because it will get you out of reaction and flailing. In the long term, most businesses fail because they build the house of their business too quickly and they ignore the foundations, and so they are caught in the constant repairs and reactions to its falling apart. They’re never able to get ahead. Once you set the foundations properly, they will be there for the life of the house you build. Once you’ve got your niche, you likely won’t need to change it for a long time. Once you’ve laid out your point of view, you can roll with it for years to come. That freed up time allows for strategy.
Reason #4. Because it will save you from having to use shitty templates. Without solid foundations, entrepreneurs need to rely on shitty-templates given to them by marketing coaches who might get them close but the results will never feel like “them.” Their business will always feel like they’re wearing a borrowed suit vs. a tailored suit.
Reason #5: Because it will free you from ever needing a “script” again. Without solid foundations, business owners will be able to memorize an elevator pitch but they won’t be able to improvise in the context of the moment in response to the question, “So what do you do?”
Reason #6. Because it will unleash your capacity for strategic moves. Without solid foundations, how can one ever figure out one’s hubs? Without solid foundations, how can one craft compelling offers? Without solid foundations, how can one communicate one’s value or unique point of view? Without solid foundations, how can one develop the a solid reputation and word-of-mouth? Without solid foundations, how can one craft a solid, consistent, successful marketing strategy?
Whether it’s through this program or someone else’s, tending to the basics is where long term success comes from.
The first fundamental is to get a basic understanding of marketing.
Most conscious entrepreneurs are a bit allergic to marketing. They don’t like it and what it stands for.
And, being real, they’d rather just do their work and have someone else handle the marketing for them.
To make matters worse, they’re usually too close to their own business to see their situation clearly.
But worst of all, they have no idea how to market their business in a way that gets them more of the kinds of clients they want, without spending a fortune to do it (or selling their soul). This results in so much confusion and frustration.
So, step one is just about getting a basic education and context of how marketing can be done in a new way. Step one is a sort of osmosis, a hanging out around it and absorbing it like you might go to another country to immerse yourself in a foreign language. The combination of being around a new language all day, every day and formal instruction is dramatically more powerful than reading it in a book.
Like learning a new language, this first step can feel overwhelming. There’s so much to learn.
If you check out my blog, you’ll see that there are around 500 posts on this site but I wanted to sit down and write you a letter to ensure that you were directed to what I feel are the dozen or so most foundational, important and essential things you could learn that could make the biggest difference in your marketing.
But where to start in learning a new way of marketing?
At the heart of it, I’m a believer in the idea of slow marketing.
We live, increasingly, in a fast-food world. Everything has become rushed, instant and lightning quick. And that’s affected our expectations. We think marketing should give us instant results too. We want to be able to press a few buttons and immediately have more clients. And it’s hardly our fault, it’s what we’re being promised constantly: instant results, a flood of clients, six figures quickly.
And, while I also know and teach some ‘fast marketing‘ ideas, those are only the tip of the marketing iceberg. I believe that the vast majority of our marketing must be slow. Because that’s how life ultimately works. Marketing tends to be seen as the conquest of ‘space’ – dominating more and more geographic area, owning more niches, growing our business wider and wider. But marketing must also happen over time. And go deep. As Gandhi said, ‘there is more to life than simply increasing its speed.’ I believe that slow marketing is, ultimately, more human, longer lasting, more effective and more profitable.
I think that part of what screws marketing up is the secret agenda to ‘get the sale’.
In fact, any secret agendas can screw us up.
I think the best marketing is totally upfront and transparent.
Once you get all of that, I think that there are three foundational areas that you need to focus on in your marketing: your platform, your paths and your container. This is all delved into in more detail in the footage of my day-long workshop Marketing for Hippies 101.
Once you have a basic grasp of the heart of how marketing can work and be different, you need to make some choices about who you are trying to reach (even though it’s tempting to want to try and reach everyone).
And this takes us to the primary question of identifying your niche.
I believe that the only agenda that works is the desire to know the truth of whether or not what you’re offering is a genuine fit for the potential client.
If your agenda is to ‘get the sale’ you will push them. If the agenda is for them to ‘like you’ then you will collapse. If your agenda is for them to ‘respect and value you’ then you will posture. If your agenda is only to see if there’s a real fit between you two then you will be composed. You can read more about all of that here and here.
But all of that lifts up the questions, ‘Do you really know who would be a perfect fit for you as a client?’
Have you put as much thought into identifying your niche as you need to? Thinking about this matters. Let these Marketing Bears tell you all about it.
The confused mind says ‘no’.
In marketing, the most important goal is clarity.
If people aren’t clear what you do or who you help or what you’re about, they just won’t hire you.
Clarity is power in marketing and most entrepreneurs I meet are only 10% as clear as they could be.
And the most important thing to get clear about is what you want to be known for.
Your niche is what you’re known for. It’s the DNA of your business. It’s the blueprints you build everything from. And it’s the heart of whether your business comes across clearly and authentically to others. The challenge with most people’s platforms is that they are flat, uninspiring, confusing and occasionally feel really gross. They’re often one dimensional. You want your platform to be crystal clear but with some depth. There are seven elements of a strong platform and most entrepreneurs only ever focus on one (almost always the same one). I go into this in depth in the Marketing for Hippies 101 workshop.
That’s the heart of it: ‘I can take you on this journey from one island to another’. If they trust that you can do that better than anyone else, they will hire you and buy from you.
But all most entrepreneurs do is talk about how fancy their boat is and try to push everyone to get on board.
When your platform is clear, the rest of marketing becomes so incredibly easy for you.
But, when it’s fuzzy, expect to struggle.
Here are some free videos you can watch to get my core take on niching and some more on why niching matter.
But as this gets clearer, you’re ready for the final fundamental . . .
I think Point of View Marketing might just be the crown jewel of any contributions I might have made to the world of marketing.
I teach a 30-Day Program about it.
I wrote a whole eBook about it.
In essence, it’s this: instead of trying to sell people on yourself, share your perspective and let them decide. Instead of trying to persuade them to buy from you, make a case for your approach.
If you can make the case for your take on things effectively, you don’t need any fancy pitching skills.
If you can’t make that case, no amount of skill in pitching will suffice.
In many ways, this is a deepening of the work on niching.
Niching comes down to what we’re known for.
We can be known for what we do, for whom we do it, where we do it, when we do it, why we do it and… how we do it.
Point of view fits under that ‘how’.
You do your work a certain way.
But why? Upon what philosophy or set of understandings is this approach based?
Believe it or not, not only do people want to know this, it might just be the most compelling thing you could share with them.
In the Niche section above you read about Island A and Island B.
The Point of View work deepens and dimensionalizes this by reminding us that there are many ways by which one might travel from Island A to Island B. How one makes that journey might be as important as the journey itself.
Most entrepreneurs overlook this. Once people find you . . . then what? You must make it safe for people to approach you and want to engage with you. You must make it really easy for them to get to know you at their own pace. This often means giving them some free samples of your work like the pink spoons you might find at an ice cream shop. But, like the ice cream shop, you can’t only give out pink spoons. You need to sell ice cream in single, double and triple scoops. You need to sell buckets and ice cream cakes. A yoga studio needs free classes to attract students but also drop ins, monthly passes, weekend retreats and teacher trainings. On your website, it’s vital to have some ‘free gifts‘ that you can offer people so they can get to know you without having to opt in to anything.
The container is about your business being safe to approach but also sustainable for you. If the paths are like water faucets and water is more clients and money then your container is like a bucket, and most entrepreneurs have a very unattractive and leaky bucket.
For most holistic practitioners there are ten fundamental elements of their container I’d advise them to work on pulling together.
You need all three: platform, paths and a container.
Again, I go into this in more detail in my Marketing for Hippies 101 video.
It’s one thing to know what you’d like to be known for and it’s another thing to actually be known for those things.
There’s the old saying that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
But, I’d take it a step further: it’s who knows what you know.
The idea of becoming a hub is to become like the hub of a wheel – where all the spolks connect. You become the center of a certain community, the trusted advisor or got to person.
That’s the idea.
The goal is to make it really easy to find you and safe to approach you. Most businesses actually make it very hard to be found and hard for people to spread the word. You want to make it almost impossible to miss you. You want your business to come from word of mouth not your endless hustling and grinding.
If your business were a cabin in the woods, you’d need paths to lead them to your door. Your paths are the ways people find you. In marketing, we might call these ‘tactics’ (e.g. social media, ads, PR, networking, speaking, writing etc.).
And the clearest way I know to use paths effectively so that your ideal clients can find you is to identify what I call your ‘hubs’ as in the hub of a wheel. There are some videos you can watch on this too. Using hubs in your marketing is what I call warm marketing. Trying to convince total strangers to pay you money is what I call cold marketing. And cold marketing doesn’t work very well. Warm marketing, the strategic use of hubs, works very well.
Word of mouth will always be the most powerful force in marketing and so focusing your efforts on delighting your existing clients is, hands down, the best long term strategy. But some people are much more connected and respected than others. Clearly a raving endorsement from a client of yours who no one really knows or likes will not have as much impact as someone like Oprah Winfrey endorsing you. Oprah is a powerful hub. But, in your city, industry and niche there are hubs too. You can do ‘cold’ marketing all day long (e.g. cold calls, direct mail, bill boards etc.) but it won’t be a fraction as effective as what I call ‘warm’ marketing where you are introduced to your ideal clients by others (hubs).
And of course there’s a level even beyond warm marketing – where you become a hub. That’s the hot level.
Being a hub is like being a host. You’re inviting people into you space. Which means we need to talk about something I call, your container (or business model).
There’s a lot to think about in marketing.
It can take some time, but remember, most people overestimate what they can do in a year but underestimate what they can do in a decade.
Here’s to a form of marketing that speaks to our virtues not our vices, and that uplifts us into living more full and whole lives.
Here’s my promise to you: In a world where deeply anti-human and anti-life agendas are rising and marketing is becoming more and more devious, through this site, you’ll learn a kind of marketing that makes us all more human and better humans.
I wish you well in your journey. I hope that you are found by the perfect people, at the perfect time and in the most perfect ways.