Not all marketing efforts are evil. You can’t just create whatever your art is and think strangers worldwide are going to stumble across it. If you’re afraid of promoting whatever it is you create, you’re stuck in the anti-marketing mindset.
Did you notice a few years ago when Weird Al Yankovic made a roaring comeback? He released a new album and amassed over 20,000,000 views on YouTube in just three weeks in 2014. His album hit #1 on the Billboard Charts, the first time a comedy album has hit #1 since 1963.
To most people, it looks like Weird Al just made some funny songs, filmed some funny videos, and shared them with his audience. What you don’t see or hear much about is the following:
- Weird Al has been making music and honing his craft for 30 years! That in itself is an amazing feat.
- Weird Al’s record label didn’t have the money to produce the 8 videos for his latest album, so he went to sites like Nerdist, CollegeHumor, Yahoo!, and Funny or Die to partner with them. Not only did they help fund and produce his videos, then they promoted them to their built-in audiences (because any great content on their platform helps their platform).
- Weird Al has been appearing as a guest on a number of popular podcasts (again, tapping into existing networks).
- Weird Al got the blessing of Pharrell, Robin Thicke, Lorde, and the other artists he parodied. By doing this he earned their respect and they wanted to share his parody because it helped boost their other music.
- Weird Al has his own blog where he’s been sharing unique content and behind the scenes stuff for years.
- Weird Al uses social media well, reposting content that matters, and sharing interesting content.
- He wasn’t platform exclusive, and his album has been downloaded 100,000+ times on Amazon, iTunes, and other sites.
- And a whole hell of a lot more stuff that I couldn’t quickly find on Google…
Safe to say, Weird Al Yankovic is not afraid to market his product (his music). He’s not scared to promote something he spent tons of time working on. And his efforts paid off!
All of this seems great for a celebrity like Weird Al, right? Maybe you’re thinking you can’t apply this to whatever thing you are creating? False.
Here are the exact takeaways you can steal from Weird Al…
How To Avoid The Anti-Marketing Mindset
Step #1: Hone your craft
Weird Al has done this for 30 years. You don’t have to have been doing it for 30 years, but you need to get good at whatever you’re putting out into the world. Spent countless hours getting better at whatever you’re trying to do. Test all of your assumptions about not being able to create whatever you want to create. Share your work, get feedback, make it better, rinse and repeat.
You’ve probably heard of Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule? Don’t let that number scare you. Embrace it. Invest in honing a skill that will lead you to success (in however you define success!).
Step #2: Partner with people who have existing networks you can tap into
Weird Al didn’t have College Humor, Funny or Die, and Nerdist knocking on his door. He sought them out and pitched them his (mutually beneficial) idea. Also, I’m sure he received some “No’s” from plenty of other networks. Don’t be afraid of hearing “No.” Make a spreadsheet right now of all the websites, bloggers, Instagrammers, podcasters, etc, who talk about whatever it is you’re creating. Reach out to them. Share your work with them. Don’t spam them! Show up in their communities (in the comments) and try to bring value while also sharing your creations.
Partnerships aren’t created overnight, be willing to invest in building strong relationships you can lean on later down the road.
Step #3: Keep your audience engaged
Don’t just promote yourself when your latest thing is out or for sale. Marie Forleo does an amazing job of promoting herself for 11 months out of the year and selling her B-School product for only one month out of the year. That means 90% of the year Marie is doing nothing but marketing herself (even though it may not actually look like marketing).
Come up with a content creation plan. If you can write, write articles just like this one and publish consistently. If you like making videos, record behind the scenes content and grow a YouTube channel. Whatever content you can authentically give away for free for 90% of the time, do that.
Related: Read my Ethical Guide to Building an Audience
Step #4: Share your work across multiple platforms
One of the biggest anti-marketing mindsets is, “I don’t want to overwhelm people and over-promote my product.” Don’t worry about people seeing your work too much. If people love your work, they’ll want to see it over and over again. If people don’t want to see your work that’s out of your control and they can take their attention elsewhere.
If you truly love what you’re creating, you shouldn’t be ashamed to promote and share it!
What To Do When It Feels Like You’re Talking (Marketing) To No One
In a perfect world, you’d use your unique superpower to create something amazing and people would find you on their own. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world.
Thinking people are just going to find you on their own is a pipe dream that’s simply never going to happen.
Back in 2008 when I conceived the idea for my IWearYourShirt business (by standing in my closet), I thought it was the next big thing. I thought I had created an idea that was going to have rocket-powered success.
However, when the website was finished and I “launched” IWearYourShirt only 12 people showed up on the first day (thanks Mom and Grama!). I realized quickly that just putting up a website and hoping random people would find it is kind of like putting up a billboard in the middle of the desert.
Had I just sat back and waited for people to find me, nothing ever would have happened.
I got on my marketing horse and started emailing friends and family about IWearYourShirt. I got on Twitter and started searching for appropriate hashtags and engaging in conversations with strangers. With only a handful of hours spent marketing IWearYourShirt the first few sales started to pour in and I made a few critical connections.
The same could probably be said for the success of Weird Al’s latest album. He could have just shared it, uploaded some videos to YouTube, and seen some viewership/success, but it wouldn’t have taken him to the first #1 comedy album in the past 50 years.
As a creative person, I know the feeling of wanting to be found. By putting my heart and soul into creating things, I always keep my fingers crossed that they’re just randomly going to be found and take off (read: overnight success). But this isn’t realistic and never works.
You can’t just create whatever your art is and think strangers worldwide are going to stumble across it. Sometimes you might even think by continuing to put your work out into the world, a little spark of magic will happen (read: your thing goes viral). This also doesn’t ever happen.
Most people, not just creatives, suffer from the anti-marketing mindset
By not actually thinking about marketing your product, service, or art, you’re putting yourself in success handcuffs.
The anti-marketing mindset stems from a few different things:
- You see people in your field who’ve had success and it looks like it happened out of nowhere
- Creating a marketing strategy seems daunting
- Doing actual work is hard and takes time and effort
- Artists (especially) want to be found and think their work won’t be as “great” if they have to promote it
Marketing is an iterative process that looks a lot like a maze. Some marketing ideas lead to dead-ends, but eventually one of those ideas (or the most likely the culmination of them) will bring you success.
This is all well and good, but you probably want to know how to take off the success handcuffs don’t you?
I don’t have a magic potion, a 12-step process, or some miracle online course you can buy to propel you toward success. What I do have for you is a plan of action you can take to get out of the anti-marketing mindset:
- Find people in your related business and ask them how they got to where they are. Learn from them. What worked for them? What advice can they offer? What failures have they had that you can avoid.
- The simplest marketing strategy looks like this: Find your superpower and then start taking action.
- Stop reading Facebook and Twitter all day. Stop listening to all the podcasts. Stop only consuming content and start creating it. Reward your content creation with content consumption. I like the 50/10 rule: 50 minutes of creation (work) to 10 minutes of consumption (pleasure).
- The only way your art, product, or service is going to get “found” is to share it with the world. You should immediately buy and read the book Show Your Work by Austin Kleon. It applies to everyone.
- Build and audience and promote your stuff to them (10% of the time, remember?)
Stop putting yourself in success handcuffs. Stop thinking you’ll get more customers by doing the same thing over and over again. Get yourself out of the anti-marketing mindset.