Part 1: Why marketing feels overwhelming (for wellbeing business founders…)
Help! I’m the founder of a health or wellbeing business. I need to do some marketing, ASAP. And I don’t know where to start!
Firstly, may I say that you’re amazing, brave and wonderful for founding your own health and wellbeing business?
Secondly, let’s check if this might help you.
- a yoga, pilates or fitness teacher, a nutritional therapist, a parenting or birth coach, or an expert in a discipline like mindfulness, neuroscience, sleep, holistic health, self-compassion, and…
- you’re just setting up, or you’ve been running for a year or two
- you work solo – without a team to handle marketing for you
- you have a head full of marketing advice from peers, Instagram, and online gurus who send you a lot of emails
- and/or you’ve been burying your head in the sand when it comes to marketing
Then this is for you.
In my ideal world, we’d be having this conversation over coffee and a couple of vegan junkie wraps at my favourite cafe.
(They’re filled with houmous, spinach, beetroot, pickled cucumber, crispy onions, house remoulade and sunflower seeds, since you ask).
In person, I’d learn more about you, and I’d tailor my advice to your unique situation.
Maybe you feel the same – that face to face is just easier?
That digital marketing – which others seem to find so easy – is just not your natural mode of communication?
That you can’t work out how (or where) to get your message across, amidst all the noise of the online world?
Relax. We’re going to unpick this together.
This is Part 1, in which I’m going to cover
- Why marketing can feel stressful, overwhelming, neverending and even impossible
- Why that’s especially true for a lot of health and wellbeing professionals
In Part 2 I’m going to offer a short & practical checklist of the marketing elements you might need, in (totally subjective) priority order.
I’ll explain that this process of ‘setting up the marketing’ goes on literally for as long as your business exists.
So, as long as your efforts result in a business that clients will pay for, there’s really no rush, or any need to feel like you’re not doing things in any single right way.
Honestly, there’s no wrong way. (In spite of what you might read in every Facebook ad from a marketing expert).
To wrap it all up, I’m going to encourage you to trust the hell out of your own passion and instincts (more on that in part 2…).
Marketing burns us out. Why?
Why does marketing feel so stressful and overhwelming?
As a solo business founder, you’re working with a precious resource: your own energy.
Up until now your energy may have been focused on studying to qualify, or designing your product or service.
Or perhaps you’ve been working an entirely unrelated day job. Maybe you still are.
If you health and wellbeing business is already up and running, your energy has a very important focal point – your clients and customers.
So when it comes to promoting your business, your energy for marketing has to come from the same pot as the one you’re using to do all of these things:
- Remembering all the stuff you’ve learned, and communicating it to the people you help
- Attending to clients and customers, a lot of whom might be struggling, i.e. in need of your empathy and emotional resources
- Non-marketing business admin (your spreadsheet brain!)
- Any practical elements – logistics, setting up events, getting your clinic or class space ready
And, because you’re a solo business-owner, it’s probably tempting to work outside of normal hours to keep things going. Perhaps all of your marketing has to be done in what you’d normally think of as ‘free’ time.
This means your marketing energy also draws from the same pot as:
- Siblings, parents, anyone who relies upon you
- The ups and downs we all deal with each day
- Keeping your home vaguely tidy, getting your food shop done (I’m assuming you don’t have a team of cleaners, PAs and fridge-fillers)
Then there’s your emotional energy…because marketing is emotional, especially when we are our business. When you’re putting yourself out there, you’re also opening up to the possibility of feeling ignored and rejected. We’re all susceptible to those feelings.
That emotional energy has got to come from somewhere.
The wider context of the world we live in comes into play, too.
It’s been clearer over the past two years how badly some of us struggle to work when the state of the world feels overwhelming.
And for those who face greater social, economic and political pressures than others, the struggle work comes in the form of real obstacles: time, money, health, trauma. The world can feel stacked against you (and to some extent, it is).
This all uses energy.
To add to things, marketing is draining in any context
When I worked in-house for a major book publisher, the marketing team was notorious for a high staff turnover. New recruits would feel swamped. We had one or two junior team members who bounced in and out of the company within twelve weeks.
When I moved around, freelancing at different companies, I saw it was true everywhere: marketing teams were frazzled.
What if we told those corporate teams they had to make the company money with:
- no experienced staff to consult
- no big budgets for ads, experiments or creative
- very limited training and systems?
…I can tell you, staff retention wouldn’t get better.
But that’s exactly what you’re doing as a solo founder.
(Did I mention you’re courageous, inspiring and beautiful inside and out? Well, you are. Now, more on marketing).
REASON 1: There’s always more you could be doing…
Read it again before you try to make a ‘complete’ marketing to-do list:
There’s always more you could be doing…
“What went wrong with the campaign?”
“Marketing,” came the eye-rolling response. “They missed the boat.”
“It’s always marketing…” said my boss.
“It’s always marketing?!” I heard myself squeak.
I overheard this at work as a junior marketing exec. Two senior directors talking about a friend’s book campaign at another company.
“If things don’t go right, you can always find a gap in the marketing plan. The list of things a marketer could have done is never-ending. So you’ll never hit a full strike. If the campaign fails…we have to blame marketing.”
I smiled and died inside. My whole job was a scam, then. I could work and work, and even when things went well, the credit would go to the money I’d spent, not me.
The marketing to-do list can be framed as a list as long as time itself, an infinite pile of time you’ll waste and budget you’ll mis-spend.
As a solo founder, it’s worth remembering that the list literally never ends. There are always things you could be doing.
And yet – quite aside from preserving our bottom line and making money – we have to sustain our energy levels, in order to keep our businesses running.
And if that’s true, is it worth allowing ourselves to get caught in the trap of lamenting all the marketing activities we’re not doing?
(The answer is no. Because lamenting the unfinished to-do list is a huge drain on energy levels).
So if you find yourself thinking:
- I should have a website by now
- I should start an email list
- I need business cards
- I hate my business name! I need to rebrand
- Maybe I should start running ads…
- I need a funnel
- What is a funnel?!
The list doesn’t stop there.
It doesn’t stop, full stop.
But you can only do what your energy will permit you to do.
And stressing out has the terrible consequence of depleting your energy, passion and motivation to work.
In Part 2 we’ll cover creating a to-do list that is short, focused and (this is crucial) feels genuinely exciting to you, while allowing the time to do the basics that keep your business running.
REASON 2: The marketing-industry pros use tactics designed to make your head spin
Let me ask: have you started signing up to email newsletters, following Instagrammers who tell you how to run a great business, and joining Facebook groups, and suddenly found yourself bombarded with ads for shiny, new things that will solve all your marketing woes?
And feeling both drawn in to spend small (or huge) sums on ebooks, courses and coaching programs, but also like you have no way of discerning what, or who, might actually help the most?
Some of those tools, courses and programs might help you.
But don’t lose sight of this:
Marketing experts employ some of the most effective marketing techniques to sell to you.
We’re talking about messaging experts.
People who have studied the psychology of pushing your buttons.
People who know how to trigger your sense of fear, FOMO, and frustration.
These marketers are absolutely getting right inside your head, with the aim of getting you to buy their thing.
They pile on tried, tested and true techniques like:
Appealing to emotion (especially fear of failure)
…and these techniques will get under your skin.
If you’re exposed to them in a vulnerable moment, you might end up making choices that aren’t based in your wisest self.
Spending money you regret, focusing on a channel or approach you can’t sustain, or just feeling unfulfilled, because that’s not you.
As a solo business owner who needs to get things off the ground, when are you not vulnerable to some big, hefty promises about what a marketing course, guide, book or membership will do for you?
But when you go looking for marketing advice online, this style of message absolutely will target you, to convince you there are
- Things you don’t know which you need to know right now if you don’t want to fail in business
- Unbreakable rules in marketing and copywriting which you’re definitely missing
- Unique systems and approaches only they can provide (when in reality, what works in copy and marketing hasn’t changed in a very long time….and, in other ways, it changes constantly, in a way that can’t be taught in an online course)
To be clear I am not saying that no marketing guru can ever help you.
(If I was this blog would be redundant! Let’s not beat about the bush – I’m a marketer, blogging about marketing, and I’d very much like to help you in a paid capacity, if I truly can help…)
I am saying there’s a style of messaging that’s at least a century old, and incredibly effective at pushing you into action via your fear and insecurities.
And it’s still the dominant style of messaging, especially in certain circles with a lot of overlap in the health and wellbeing arena.
There’s a building wave of experts, coaches and copywriting guides who aim to avoid this style of high-pressure marketing advice but the number one expert on what’s right for you is actually…
…you. Your gut instinct. Your financial resources (this is a big one – please don’t be swindled into overspending on marketing help in the early days, before your offer is tried and tested, unless your money-pit is seriously deep and you can afford the risk). Your passion, motivation and, yep, your energy levels.
Reason 3: Marketing doesn’t feel like you.
For anyone who provides health and wellbeing services, there’s an additional (potential) conflict you might be dealing with that drains you of precious energy resources.
It can feel like you’re being pulled into a conflicting way of being.
Marketing is competitive, isn’t it?
At worst, you might feel encouraged to be deceptive, or misleading. To use those psychological tactics (fear, urgency, the idea that time’s running out, that there are only a few spaces left) beyond what feels comfortable.
Even the idea of ROI, putting money at the top of your priorities, might be uncomfortable for you.
You’re in your business to help people, and the notion of deliberately selling might feel at odds with your whole identity.
Well, what’s the cure here?
Firstly, it’s noticing that you feel this way.
Then reasoning it out: whatever you’re doing, no-one will pay you to do it unless they know it exists.
You might have to be a little louder – a little more attention-seeking – than you’re used to, to get noticed.
You might need to slice away at the ‘noise’ in your fluffy, friendly messaging, too, just to ensure your ideal clients understand what you’re offering them.
But you don’t need to turn yourself inside out and become someone you’re not.
There are ways of getting your marketing in-line with your ideals and values, and still making sales. Good, well-thought-out copy plays a huge part in that.
Your tone of voice.
Some big-picture, background thinking about what you do and don’t believe in.
Of course, things change, and you might want to develop how you approach talking about yourself. Maybe you could use a little ego-boosting time on stage (figuratively or literally). Maybe you want to be the bigger, louder, more shouty version of you that’s been hiding inside.
Sometimes, stepping beyond what feels cosy, easy and comfortable can be liberating, and helpful.
But my suggestion: take small, consistent steps, rather than trying to emulate or be someone else entirely.
Consider what feels good, and what feels less good.
In the short term, you could go full-throttle and make sweeping overnight changes to your whole persona in the service of skyrocketing business success.
But there’s usually a cost to overnight transformation. (And that cost is usually your energy and enthusiasm, which is the real engine of your business growth).
Think about it: if a client or customer came to your yoga studio, clinic, or workshop and said they wanted to be a whole new person by this time next week, would you tell them it was possible?
Or advisable? Healthy?
Steady growth comes via steady work, not pushing so hard that you don’t have the energy to move forward anymore.
So, should ‘write a blog’ be on your to-do list?
Maybe! We’ll cover more of that in Part 2….
But why am I telling you about this stuff, as a copywriter? How does this benefit *my* marketing? And work with my energy and enthusiasm for what I do?
For me, it’s a balance of feeling helpful and motivated, and creating content I can use in my own marketing efforts.
I get asked for help a lot by businesses who are in the early stages of getting their online presence together. Business founders who don’t yet need a copywriter, and I want to help.
While I have a quick-book service that can be used to talk about anything, I like to make it about copy, because that’s where I can offer the most value to individuals, with specific, detailed advice that’s about you and you only.
When it comes to the basics, my biggest offering is this insight: you don’t have to do it all right now. And that applies to everyone.
I believe this series of posts might help you get where you need to be: thinking clearly, calmly, and creatively about the next steps in your marketing journey…