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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work Relationships

3 Ways to Make Marketing (Yourself or Something Else) Less Creepy

If I had a penny for every person who told me marketing to their audience made them “feel creepy,” I’d be a rich little lady.

And I totally get it—for a long time, I was one of them. Writing copy stuffed full of buzzwords I didn’t understand and engaging weird marketing tactics to get people to buy what I was selling made me feel like a jerk.

But here’s what I figured out and what I want you to know: It doesn’t have to be like that. It should actually be nothing like that.

We have so many ways to speak directly to our audience—like engaging customers on our social media platforms or writing newsletters that end up in their actual inboxes instead of their junk mail. And it turns out that simply being a human trying to answer a need, rather than spouting jargon just to get our products out the door, actually works in our favor.

So, whether you’re completely grossed out with your current marketing plan or the heebee jeebees have stopped you from even writing one, here are three things I give you permission to do.

1. Use Your Words

Even for those of us who are extra careful to avoid BS, it’s really easy to get caught up in your industry’s jargon. You want to sound professional. You want your company to be taken seriously. And you have competitors that are using phrases like “actionable information” and “low hanging fruit”—so you wonder if these buzzwords are the key to engaging with your clients.

But jargon can also make you feel really uncomfortable. Your most important job as a marketer is to make an emotional connection with your audience, so you can meet their needs. If you’re doling out phrases you don’t understand or truly believe in, you’re not showing up to the party. And your audience is going to sense it.

So, say what you need to say in your words—not the words dictated to you by your industry or peers. Just make sure your grammar is correct and you’re not offending people.

2. Call it Schmarketing

I was working with a coach friend recently to help her market an upcoming program, and she kept talking about how much she hated the idea of prospecting.

At the same time, she was really comfortable talking to people about the program because she was so excited to help the women she brought onboard. She loved writing and pitching blogs because she felt so passionate about the message she was sharing. She was constantly engaging with her community on social media and through her newsletter. And the other day she emailed to say that she’d reached out to a thought leader in the industry about partnering with her on the upcoming program—and how much would her community love that?

Her program was enormously successful, and she is genuinely one of the best “prospectors” I know. She just needed to frame it in her own language to make it feel authentic to her.

So, call your marketing whatever you want. The important thing is that you feel confident about how you’re talking to your community—because they’ll be able to sense that, too.

3. Find Mentors and Muses

The more passionate I’ve become about authentic marketing, the more it’s been both inspiring and comforting to find people and companies that create the kind of authentic rapport with their community that I try to have with my own.

A few of my favorites include Marie Forleo, Sarah Jenks, Casey Erin Wood, Warby Parker, GE, and American Express Small Business Saturday. While you should definitely check them out, be sure to make your own list. What inspires me to bring my heart into my own marketing may not be what inspires you—so find your own muses and keep them bookmarked.

That way, when you’re feeling tired and deflated and wondering if maybe you should give some of that jargon a go (because everyone else is, and they seem to be doing fine), those people and companies will be there to remind you to keep fighting the good fight.

Remember: the best marketing shouldn’t feel like marketing. It should feel like you.

Photo of man speaking courtesy of Shutterstock.

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