How to Find a Marketing Method That Fits

This post is in response to a question on the Accidental Entrepreneurs’ group at Facebook. You can join the group and ask your own questions about self-employment by clicking here:

“Last year when my book was published I tried a variety of marketing ideas and projects with limited success. I feel like I’m flitting about following every shiny object that comes into my peripheral vision. Any insights on deciding which projects are right, authentic and fulfilling for me and my clients/readers/visitors?”

If you’ve ever talked yourself into buying a pair of shoes that don’t fit, you know the consequences of bright shiny object marketing.

You know how it goes. You might not even have been shopping for shoes when you spotted a pair that exerted an almost magnetic pull. Perhaps you’d been feeling a bit dowdy or down, and when you imagined yourself in those shoes, you felt exotic.

You tried them on. They didn’t actually fit very well. The toes pinched (but just a little). The heels slipped (but you could still walk in them).

Still, they looked fantastic. So you bought them. You wore them once or twice (if that), and then you consigned them to the back of your closet.

Marketing methods are like shoes

Marketing is all about putting your best foot (!) forward. It’s about being visible. That can make you vulnerable to methods that, on the surface, look glamorous but don’t actually fit who you are or whom you’re trying to reach.

And when you do try a method that doesn’t work, you get a bit anxious. The pressure to get results increases, and you’re even more vulnerable to the next marketing idea that floats by.

It doesn’t take long before you have a stack of marketing programs and nothing to show for them except a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach and an empty checkbook.

So how do you choose a marketing method that is right, authentic, and fulfilling?

Right, authentic, and fulfilling, the short version

  • The right marketing method is sustainable.
  • An authentic marketing method fits your personality.
  • A fulfilling marketing method focuses on connection, not persuasion.

The right marketing method is sustainable

Marketing is a conversation, and a successful conversation unfolds over time. It requires repetition, because different people will enter the conversation at different times. This means that whatever method you choose must be something you can see yourself repeating over and over again, not just for weeks or months, but for years.

So, what makes a marketing method fit so well that you can imagine doing it repeatedly for years?

For one thing, it has to fit your values. If you’re reading this column, it’s a sure bet that get-rich-quick marketing schemes, however enticing in the short term, aren’t going to work for you. Even if you can bring yourself to follow the system once or twice, you won’t be able to keep it up.

Another key to sustainability is that the method you choose needs to build on your strengths. An ezine or blog are good marketing vehicles for you if you write well and are reasonably prolific. If you are comfortable in front of a live audience, offer to speak about topics of interest to professional associations and service clubs.

Are you a natural educator? Give no-cost introductory seminars or teleclasses. Do you love to collaborate? Focus on strategic alliances where other people promote your work and vice versa.

If you don’t know what your strengths are, ask friends for their perspective. We’re often blind to the things we do well and naturally.

An authentic marketing method fits your personality

Authenticity and sustainability go hand in hand. Marketing that makes you feel inauthentic won’t work very well, nor will it be sustainable. One key to authenticity is suffusing whatever method you choose with your own personality.

My friend Jennifer Louden ( excels at putting her personality into her marketing. When you read the description of her Writers’ Retreat, for example, you feel like she is speaking to you personally. Her warmth and exuberance are palpable.

The same is true of Jennifer’s blog, ezine, and audios. Every one of them consistently expressed her bubbly, caring nature.

Much as I love Jen, her personality and mine are different. I come down more on the irreverent, recovering intellectual side of things. If I get too warm and fuzzy, it strikes a false note.

Perhaps the biggest barrier to allowing your personality to infuse your marketing method is the belief that you need to be a certain way—a way you are not—in order to get clients. The opposite is true. What makes you stand out in a crowded field are the ways in which you are different from others.

A fulfilling marketing method is about connection, not persuasion

I’ve said that marketing is a conversation. Instead of entering this conversation with the intention of persuading people to buy, enter it with the intention of establishing a meaningful connection.

Understanding is the basis of connection. Before you try to market to them, you need to understand your just-right clients and how the world looks from their point of view. Ask past and existing clients to tell you about their care and concerns, hopes and dreams. Talk to the kind of people you’d love to work with and listen to what they want and what keeps them from getting it.

Be careful not to slip into problem solving or marketing when you have these conversations. Stay focused on understanding and connection. The more you connect, the more people will come to see the value of what you do.

The right marketing method will fit like a good pair of shoes

The right marketing method for you will be in deep alignment with who you are and the people you want to serve. It will fit your personality and strengths well enough that you can sustain it over time. And it will foster a meaningful connection with clients who fit just right.

Just like a good pair of shoes, the right marketing method will help you show up to your best advantage without pinching your feet.  And it will make you feel great.

What’s not to love about that?

Image credit: Nancy Dorsner

About Molly Gordon

Molly Gordon is the owner of Shaboom Inc., a company devoted to helping Accidental Entrepreneurs who are allergic to business develop the skills they need to prosper. She’s an artist, writer, marketing consultant, and coach -- as well as a paddle-boarder, cyclist, singer, and grandmother. She lives in Suquamish, Washington with her husband, two hens, and Bolivia the Wonder Cat. Molly blogs at, where you can also sign up for her weekly ezine, Authentic Promotion.

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