Your work is like the beautiful truffula trees in Dr. Seuss’s classic, “The Lorax.” It has deep, intrinsic value. But it doesn’t speak. At least not in English, and not very loudly.
I work with a lot of entrepreneurs who started their business based on a deep inner calling. The work they’re doing feels intensely personal — it’s their gift to the world. Often, these business owners have a strong aversion to typical marketing and sales strategies. They don’t want to “taint the purity” of their offerings by being overly pushy or salesy. Their work comes from their heart and soul, and they want to keep it that way. They get stressed and contracted at the mere idea of “doing marketing.” It’s icky, it’s not fun, it’s their least favorite part of the whole thing.
That all makes perfect sense to me. I’m a huge advocate of people aligning their work with their joy. I love it when people are able to find and express their “Zone of Genius”* through their businesses. I appreciate when entrepreneurs do their best to stay away from activities that make their energy drop.
Yet here’s what pains my heart: Instead of getting playful and curious about how they might attract more customers in an authentic, aligned way, these business owners fall into the trap of believing that their good work “speaks for itself.” They turn their backs entirely on the idea of deliberately attracting more customers.
From there, the path is well-worn: The referrals trickle in unpredictably. The people they could be helping never know it. Because they feel a scarcity of clients or customers, they feel scared to charge their full worth. They end up stuck just getting by, when this business was supposed to help them build a life that fulfilled them.
Your Work Needs A Voice
Like these entrepreneurs, your work is like the beautiful truffula trees in Dr. Seuss’s classic, “The Lorax.” It has deep, intrinsic value. But it doesn’t speak. At least not in English, and not very loudly. It needs a translator and an amplifier — someone like the colorful, feisty Lorax — to say aloud what lies within.
To switch metaphors, if your business is a flower, your customers are honey bees. Your product or service is the pollen those bees come to enjoy. But in order to attract the bees, the flower relies on two additional elements: its scent and the breeze. The scent is the translator — speaking the language of the bees to draw them in. The breeze is the amplifier — spreading that sweet message father and wider.
Bringing it back to the business world, you soul-driven enterprise can’t thrive just by sitting there, hoping its “bees” will happen upon the yummy pollen. You need to figure out how to best translate the nectar you offer into language that’s meaningful to your customers — a sweet scent. At Magic Words Marketing, we call that “messaging”: finding the ideal flavor of words that will instantly click with your exact right audience.
Next, you need something like the breeze to spread and amplify that message — we call that “promotion.” That can take a lot of forms (social media, emails, ads, etc.), but it’s also important.
This isn’t some artificial, rigid constraint the evil capitalists are imposing on us all. This is a reflection of some deep laws of nature. And figuring out what scent attracts your honeybees, and how best to spread it, can be as yummy and playful as you let it be. When you get it right, you get to give your gifts even more fully.
So: Are you willing to speak for your work?
*Zone of Genius is a term that piques curiosity for many folks. To learn more, check out these resources from my friends at The Conscious Leadership Group.