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approaching marketing as a practice

2012 May 10

 

photo courtesy of courosa on Flickr

This is part 2 of my blog series about creative rhythm and how it can help you develop a marketing practice. You can read part 1 here.

One of the common themes that I hear from clients is that they don’t know where to start when developing their marketing strategy and plans. They’re overwhelmed.

Marketing as a creative entrepreneur is not about “the numbers” and blanketing as many people with your message, services and products. It’s about finding the right people and talking with them, finding out what they need and delivering something that you can give that meets a need or solves a problem.

That’s the left brain approach, which doesn’t help the entrepreneur who is stuck. Who wants to hear that?

To be honest, the stuck entrepreneur actually hears blah target market blah blah deliver blah blah blah get results. As you can tell, this is scientifically proven!

marketing as a gentle, playful practice

In my own development as an entrepreneur, it’s been a process stepping from behind the corporate marketing consulting role (and resulting anonymity) and bringing myself and my business visibility in a more public way. I’ve found it to be challenging and rewarding and frustrating and exciting.

As a self-described creativity retreat junkie, I’ve practiced and cultivated being in retreat, being silent and contemplative and being in many creative environments. I find myself integrating all these experiences as a business person.

I’ve started approaching marketing as a practice, taking small steps in the beginning and layering a little more, bit by bit, as I developed confidence and capacity. The word “practice”, for me, takes away the pressures of perfection and frees up the creative process. After all, marketing can be a creative way to express ourselves and our ideas. It can be fun, too!

(On that note, be sure to read my announcement at the end of this post.)

Maybe you already have a practice in your life where you experience flow. Piano practice. Yoga practice. Prayer or meditation practice. Running. Knitting. A writing or creative practice. You showing up to the piano, mat, church, meditation cushion, track, blank page or canvas.

You play your instrument and practice your particular art.

I don’t know about you, but the idea of not having to perform, be perfect, to play has changed the way I think about marketing efforts. Yes, there is still fear. Yes, there is still doubt. But I accept that as part of my particular creative process…and it has less power and influence over me. Imagine that!

Finding your own practice which resonates with you is one way to bridge the overwhelm. Clients relax into this and we get to a more creative state of mind.

creative rhythm + a healthy relationship with the soul of your business

Marketing is about showing up, consistency and delivering the goods. As an entrepreneur, it’s also about having healthy, clear relationship with the soul and spirit of your business and with the people you serve.

Part of this relationship is about your relationship with you and honoring your creative rhythm. Sometimes you’ll be in creation mode and sometimes you won’t be motivated at all. Noticing and accepting your rhythms, or patterns, and the rhythm, or cycle, of your market, helps you determine your planning for a day, week, month and even a whole year’s cycle. Pairing your creative rhythm with your marketing practice motivates you to take small, consistent action. I find I am not fighting or questioning myself at each step of the way as much as I used to.

These are some of the parameters that only you know about yourself. As an entrepreneur, you have the ability to apply these to decisions in a conscious way that is in alignment with your values, natural rhythm and tendencies and who you are, right now, not who you think you need to be or should be.

In the next playful marketing expedition, we’ll be focusing on building our relationship with our business via a special “playbooking” session. It will be a lot of fun! Registration is not open yet, but you can sign up for the expedition notification list here.

special giveaway!

I’m excited to be doing my first giveaway! If you signed up for my occasional newsletter, you already know this, but Lisa Sonora Beam, author of  The Creative Entrepreneur, has given me a free spot in her 8-week online Creative + Practice class to give away to one of my blog readers, Twitter followers or Facebook…likers!

Lisa has been an inspiration since I attended her Creative Entrepreneur Retreat in Mexico. I wrote a little bit about the experience here. Her work as a businesswoman and working artist has influenced my own development and connection to my marketing work. In this class, she shares her personal creative practice through weekly videos and emails with digestible homework.

All you have to do is leave a comment (even a “Hello”) below or on my creative rhythm blog post, on my Facebook Page or Tweet me by Friday, May 11, 2012 at 9 am Pacific to be eligible. (Registration is open to everyone for $147. The class starts Monday, May 14.)

I’ll choose a random winner, so no worries about leaving a “good enough” comment. If you are the lucky winner, I’ll contact you via email or Facebook message.

Good luck!

embrace your creative rhythm

2012 May 7

Spring is my favorite season. Seeds and bulbs buried in the soil break the surface and unfurl to greet the longer days. Barren fruit trees invite bees to shake & shimmy in pollen or sip nectar among fragrant blossoms.

My creative energy seems to follow the seasons. I’m more energized in the spring than I am in the throes of winter, for example. As I come alive in the spring–a time I consider my “new year”–I have creative energy to take on new opportunities and partnerships and create new offerings.

As entrepreneurs, we can make conscious choices about how to run our businesses, depending on which business stage we’re in.

pay attention to your creative rhythm

Your creative rhythm is critical information to knowing how you want to run your business. Do you pay attention to your own particular creative rhythm?

What is your daily rhythm? When are you energized? When do you feel like taking a nap? (Do you let yourself take a nap? I’m pro-nap!)

Take stock of when you do and don’t have energy over a week, a month, a quarter, a year. Do you notice any patterns?

Observe. Write it down. Take notes.

overlay your creative rhythm with market seasonality

Once you know a little bit about your creative rhythm, you can take this information and combine it with your knowledge of the seasonality of your business. It’s not all about self-work and personal development, though it’s an important process!

If you’re a life coach, January is a great month to help new clients reach their goals. What can you prepare you or your business for new clients in January?

In many businesses, big and small, summer tends to be slower than other times of the year. Is there a way to be proactive about the summer slump? Can you use this time to create offerings for the fall? Or can you do something at other times of the year to mitigate the inevitable slow times?

This is just one way to think about your creative rhythm, but it’s a foundational element of how you want to structure your business.

don’t go changing…to try to please me

Maybe you’ve noticed that I haven’t suggested you be more productive, wake up earlier, or  change anything in your current schedule. I’m not asking you to change a thing, because you are already good enough, perfect enough and smart enough to market your business as you are.

This is the first in a series about the importance of honoring your creative rhythm in creating a sustainable marketing practice for you and your business. 

dabbling at the intersection of work & play

2011 May 24

sometimes i need a new perspective (photo from my first Secret Play Date)

Playing on the right side of the brain for serious problem solving is a theme I’ve been intrigued by and experimenting with for awhile…in private.

It’s no secret I’m a fangirl of smArts & culture‘s Maryann Devine. So when she started blogging about her weekly Secret Play Dates, where she gets things done in a playful, creative way, I had to try it.

code names & layer cake

A few months ago, she hosted the very first Society of the Secret Play Date, which has evolved into a biweekly gathering of support and accountability. Unlike most group calls, Society gatherings are not recorded (whew!) and members are encouraged to use code names.

Code names! And you wonder why I wanted to try this!

(By the way, if you do join the Society, you’ll have to guess which one is me.)

I started playing with photography, collage, or sketching, alternating the “play” with “work” projects, like:

  • outlining a proposal for a prospective client
  • sketching out a new program
  • tabulating survey results for another client

Maryann calls this the “layer cake” method, and gives Secret Play Daters a number of approaches to play that I had never considered. Apparently I need to open my definition of play a little wider. All fun, all creative and doable.

(Fingerpainting with ketchup, anyone?)

playing fast & loose and getting it done anyway

Your mileage may vary, but my most successful play dates are the ones where I don’t have a rigid plan on either side of the work/play equation. Before the play date call, I make a list of creative things I could do that are already set up, or easily accessible (e.g. watercolors, doodling with colored pencils or markers, collage, photography) and a short list of 3-4 projects I could work on that would move me forward that week.

Then I let myself play with whatever seems the most fun in the moment and choose the work project that has the most juice. Simple, right?

At the last Society meeting I attended a few weeks ago, I used the first twenty minutes to clear space on my art table, then the last forty minutes scribbling in my secret lab notebook, which helped me make a couple of important decisions that I’d been avoiding. I got on a roll and didn’t need to layer cake.

Playing lit me up, giving me enough spaciousness to get a bit of clarity that day.

In fact, I’ve surprised myself by getting lost in flow and almost forgetting to call back to check in a number of times.

Secret Play Dating reminds me that sometimes I need to get out of my own way and give myself a break when I get too serious. That there is always something I can try when I get stuck, including stepping away from it for awhile. That a little group support can be helpful, and even (gasp!) fun.

encaustic key detail (photo taken at a Secret Play Date, not the art)