GUEST POST BY MAGGIE GIELE
“What’s my thing? What can I build a memorable brand around if I don’t have a thing?” Common thoughts I had when I started my business, feeling invisible and unseen in the myriad of other marketing specialists.
Secretly, I geeked out on video games and fantasy.
I binge-watched the extended editions of the Lord of the Rings. I’ve consumed the audio, book and movie versions of the Harry Potter series many times. I have spent countless hours playing video games since I was four years old and commanding my father as he played Doom.
Video games have always been a huge part of my life, but as I started my own business, I hid that aspect of myself. I was terrified people would think I was unprofessional and wouldn't take me seriously as a strategist.
People will think I’m childish.
I won’t be taken seriously as a business owner.
Embracing the geek in me and putting that out there into my business world was one of the hardest things I've done for myself and my business, but also the most rewarding. It culminated in a re-brand and my creation of the Content Quest, an award-winning virtual (geek-themed!) co-working, content-batching event.
What changed for me? I had a burn-out that landed me in the Emergency Room. While recovering, I realized I was literally bored with my own marketing. It didn’t speak to me, I didn’t find it interesting and I didn’t enjoy creating it.
IF I FELT THAT WAY, HOW BORED MUST MY AUDIENCE HAVE BEEN?
I GET THE STRUGGLE. I'VE BEEN THERE. It took a burn-out to see how unhappy I was with my business and make a change. It’s time to stop looking at others doing creative, memorable, interesting things with their businesses, and start embracing who you are, with all its imperfections.
Here are some ways to help you stop feeling so disconnected in your business, level-up your brand, and feel more like you.
build genuine connections /
People buy from people. Your audience wants to connect with you. In the online world especially, you have to build trust, credibility and most importantly, relationships, for genuine growth.
To do that? Your audience needs to see you for who you really are. Not the business owner, or the strategist… just you.
Try to start opening up to your audience about who you are as a human being. Pepper your marketing content with personal stories, or mention what you’re planning to do that evening. Find ways to insert more of your personality and interests into the conversations you’re having with your audience, and you’ll begin to see how people respond and relate to you.
You don’t have to come out of the gate with a fully edited YouTube channel. Start small by doing an Instagram Story. You’ll get used to opening up to your audience and speaking into the camera.
embrace your uniqueness /
Lara Croft doesn’t hide who she is either. What makes you unique? I know that’s an incredibly hard question to answer, so here’s a prompt.
One trick I love is thinking back to those deep conversations you’ve had with friends, in business or otherwise. What made those conversations so meaningful? What made you laugh so hard? Or spend the next few hours deep in thought?
What do you totally geek out over? (You don’t have to be a fantasy nerd like me to geek out!) Think about the things that occupy your mind and how you spend your free time. Do you spend hours at the yoga studio every week furthering your practice? Do you obsess over finding the perfect pairing? Do you spend your weekends thrifting and hunting for that exquisite vintage piece to add to your collection?
When you’re the boss you can take the parts of you that you usually hide at work and totally own them.
align your personality with your business vision /
“What do I do next to grow my business”?
Your purpose, your values and what you stand for are a crucial part of your business. Without a vision that aligns each of these pieces, you’ll end up losing interest in your business, or worse, burnt out and in the emergency room!
In fantasy, role-playing games, you can pick a character’s alignment - their approach to the world. Chaotic Evil characters make good thieves or assassins. Lawful Good characters are best as healers. If the character does something out of alignment (such as a Lawful Good character robbing someone while on a quest), there’s a penalty. The connection between a personality and actions is clear, so let’s make it a little clearer in business as well.
Map out your core values. What do you stand for, what do you want to be remembered as, and how do you want your audience to see you?
What can you do more of in your business that’s in line with these values? What do you actually enjoy doing, and how can you bring that into your business?
Think out-of-the-box. What can you do for a higher-impact? I did the Content Quest, because I thought it was a fun, useful idea, and it won an award. Ashley Beaudin felt that a sense of community disappeared under the shiny Instagram surface of perfection and neat desks, and started #TheImperfectBoss movement. Brooke Saxon-Spencer wanted women to feel like they belonged… and started Belong Magazine.
Bringing your values into your bigger picture vision is the first step in creating a business that feels totally and completely YOU.
choose your own adventure /
Playing it safe is no way to beat the game. If you make your business a clone of everyone else’s, how will anyone remember you?
You are allowed to do things your way. Put your own spin on it, whether it’s your marketing, your content, or even your core business.
Do what you feel like doing. A huge part of online marketing and business growth is simple trial-and-error. Those tactics we see regularly? They started by someone experimenting, seeing success, and repeating what works. Give yourself permission to try new things!.
When I started my business, my eight-week digital strategy package was creatively called “8-week Digital Strategy”. Intriguing, isn’t it?
Now, it’s “Slay Your Strategy”. My three-month action plan package (previously entitled “Action Plan”) has been renamed Biz Battle Plan. Numerous clients have since told me that the names of my packages were an added detail that led them to hire me.
My website favicon is a unicorn. I could have made it just an “M” in my brand colours, but I thought a unicorn would be on-brand and more fun. Including geeky little nods like this in my branding have allowed me to stand out and have way more fun running my business every day.
Add those details of your personality to what you do in interesting ways. Create copy that sounds like you. Have fun with the names of your packages and services. Give glimpses of your real life in your Instagram photos and stories. Be real about what you like and forget the term ‘guilty pleasure’. Own who you are and let it shine through every day.
It’s the big picture that people see, but the details that make you memorable.
BE THE HERO OF YOUR STORY.
The Lara Croft of the adventure. Go out there, and conquer the world.
Maggie is an award-winning business and marketing strategist, helping fiercely dedicated business owners take strategic action and build sustainable, scalable businesses with a sprinkle of magic.
Maggie is also the creator of the award-winning Content Quest, a geek-themed co-working virtual event, and is hosting an action-taking business retreat in Prague in 2017.
Find her on her website.