Monday, September 22, 2008

Marketing Schmarketing: Thoughts on Language for Introverts

Howdy-do from Texas,

Hope you all are doing well! Things have improved dramatically for me since I've been reconnected to the internet. Hot dog! My poor little ET heart light was waning. I was in dire need of some e-juice. Phew, got plugged back in just in the nick of time.

I've had a lot of time on my hands this past week to consider the meaning of the universe, strange Fall fashion trends, and why I still shudder at the M-Word. Here is what I've come up with. You see, the word marketing just holds no appeal for me. I can't think of a single connotation that I find alluring, sexy, or even interesting.

Stock market? Shudder. Grocery market? Must I, really? Meat market? Gee, I'll pass. Farmer's Market? Must they flaunt their Brussel Sprouts (aka tiny alien heads) at me? Book Marketing? Yick!

You see where all this is going, don't you? We need some *new* language around this, coupled with fresh, shiny images. And, they won't be the same for all of us. As we've learned over these past months together, though we belong to the same tribe, introverts are a diverse group. Some of us love to teach and speak to crowds, but run shrieking at the phone or doorbell ringing (uh, that would be me). Some of us can't imagine speaking to both our dentist and her hygienist at the same time, but can happily while away hours on the phone.

I've learned a lot doing buddy book signings with Robin, and one of the things I most admire is her "pitch"-- her ability to summarize her book into one or two sentences. She does so in a way that reaches out and embraces her potential reader. She focuses on how the book might meet their needs vs. how cool the book is. She is able to adjust her synopsis a widge each time so that it makes sense to whomever she is speaking to, be it a child, a parent, or a teacher. It feels fresh and personal each and every time. I'm reay to whip out my wallet and buy another copy by the time she's done.

At times, my pitch can sound like an apology, or perhaps as if I've never actually read the book. Truly! I have the dardest time with it. I need to tip the focus off me and my insecurities. To do that requires that I come to terms with the quality of my work. Did I write the best book I possibly could at the time? If so, and my editor liked it enough to publish it, I'm going to go with its assumed value.

In all other areas of my life, if I have something of value, I always want to share it with others. Why should it be different with my books? When I make cookies, I make enough for the greater tri-counties area. In my coaching practice, I am confident that I'm good at it, and I feel comfortable inviting people to hire me.

Here is the shift that I'm making that I challenge you to consider. If the terms marketing and promotion cause sweat to run down your inner thighs, call it something else. We know that words are beyond powerful. Change a word, change your world. So, I'm moving from marketing to connecting and from promotion to sharing. I feel skilled at both of these activities, and they both feel tied to a higher purpose than sales.

I believe in the power of children's literature to catapult a child into a new realm of being. If I'm lucky enough to be one of the voices in the field, and I believe in my work, what a waste not to share it. What a missed opportunity if I don't try to connect with others while I have the air time.

So what about you? There are many, many components to marketing. Can you isolate an area(s) of strength and expertise? What about changing the language to something that excites and motivates you? What else can you call marketing? Or promotion? Or pitching (for god's sake)? How about something less corporate than networking? And I'm not thrilled with anything that ends with 'campaign'--ideas on that?

And, please, anything more humane than branding? In fact, I hate that one so much that I'm attaching a **PRIZE** to anyone that comes up with a good replacement for that. And platforms are good for shoes, but can we find a better way to describe one's area of expertise?

Robin and I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Grab your creativity and come on over!


Mary Hershey


Jen Robinson said...

Glad that you have Internet back, Mary!

I think this is an interesting post, and a good approach. Turn these perceived negatives into positives.

As far as branding goes, what you do when you brand yourself is you make it easier for other people to remember you, when the situation arises in which they might need what you offer. So I think a more people-centric way of looking at is that it's about communicating your passion. So at Shrinking Violet Promotions, you and Robin are passionate about helping introverts, and that's what comes across. So if I'm an introvert and I need a little lift, I think to come here. You do people a favor by communicating the core thing that you're about, so that it's easy for them to remember.

That's my two cents, anyway.

Terry P. said...

Howdy, Mary! Love the attitude--if you don't like the negative connotation of a word, change it to a positive one. A perfect philosophy on so many levels!

I see networking as connecting, and pitching as sharing in a nutshell. Branding? All I've ever thought of with that one is "cows." And we're not a bunch of cows! How about making it more about letting our personality shine through like a sunburst? Shining!

Thanks again for another great post!


Anonymous said...

"At times, my pitch can sound like an apology,...If so, and my editor liked it enough to publish it, I'm going to go with its assumed value."

Yes! Thank you for voicing what makes the idea of sharing my book so hard. It requires me to actually say I think I wrote a good book! Ack---how snotty and conceited can I sound? Yet I don't ever think that when I hear other writers pitch their work. I need to work on adjusting those thoughts--and coming up with a different term to use. Just seeing the folder in Word called Promotion makes me a little queasy. I'm going to decide on something else to rename it!

Mary Hershey said...

Hi, Jen, Terry, and Laura--

Thanks for the comments and branding alternative suggestions. I'm entering "communicating your passion" and "shining" into our contest for an alternative name.

Laura, great idea to change the folder name on your computer. I'm doing mine today!

Love hearing from you all--
Mary :-)

liquidambar said...

We could call marketing "chocolate." I like that name.
Hm, but I think it's already taken!

Colorado Writer said...


I mean it only takes a spark and word of mouth can light a book on fire. Not on fire like Palin would like certain books to be, but you know what I mean.

Great post for me to tuck away for someday...when I am actually published as opposed to being in the revision cave of doom.

Jennifer said...

I am so happy I found your blog via a link on the Writer Mama blog. What a great post!

How about extending the "shrinking violet" metaphor? Marketing could be "planting the seeds." Promotion could be "blooming." Pitching could be "tilling" or "cultivating." Your brand could be your "bouquet" something unique and beautiful you can't help but share with others.

I might have to rename a few files myself... And I'll definately bookmark your sight.

Robin LaFevers said...

Ooo! Great suggestions, Jennifer!

And we're so glad you found us, too! ;-)

Anonymous said...

I'm not really an introvert, but all this is still incredibly valuable. I second the "Huzzah!" for Jennifer's way of looking at things, especially since marketing is something that freaks me out. Planting seeds and thinking of my bouquet totally work for me.