When to start marketing

Simon leaning around a door saying "it's not ready yet"

No one opens a restaurant with a Michelin Star on the door. You have to earn it.

The same is true with marketing. You can’t go straight from doing no marketing at all to showing up every day with a wide range of engaging multimedia content. Yet this is often the expectation people put on themselves. And not least because they regularly hear from ‘experts’ that this is how to make it work.

Just like a good chef, you have to experiment with your marketing menu, learn what gets a rave reaction, what the regular favourites are, and what comes back to the kitchen uneaten. After a lot of practice and experimentation, you create a marketing menu that people can’t resist.

Trust isn’t a given

Promotional poster for The Bear showing the characters from the show

In case you’re wondering, I’ve been watching The Bear on Disney+, which is all about a chef trying to turn around a restaurant. It’s incredibly well written, and I’ll be honest, it’s edge-of-your-seat stressful to watch. Still, it’s a masterclass in how every set back teaches you something and makes you better, even if you can’t see it in the moment. Most of all the show is about how much passion, belief and determination you need to get it working.

Not that I’m saying that marketing needs to be that stressful. Far from it. What I’m saying here is that it’s all about building trust.

When you first start out as a coach, consultant or freelancer, it can feel daunting. Often because you might not trust yourself – it’s that imposter syndrome feeling of fake it until you make it! It’s easy to say, “You have to back yourself” but it’s harder to do, especially when you’re trying out new approaches.

And if you don’t trust yourself, it’s hard to feel confident that clients will.

Laying the foundations – building trust

Trust – yours and others’ – is built through showing up and delivering consistently. This is true for both your work and your marketing.

After all, very few people start out with a fully formed product, ready to offer. For most people it’s a process of trying… and learning from what works and what doesn’t.

After years of working with coaches, this is something that comes up over and over again: the preconception that it has to be ready (perfect, even!) before you can tell anyone about it.

This is where marketing helps. Not only with engaging with your audience but also with working towards the best iteration of your product. By generously sharing your ideas and concepts, by answering questions, you will start to build trust – with your audience and yourself.

Life is a work in progress – why would business be different?

By showing up regularly and generously, the trust you build means that you can also share things you’re working on before they’re perfect. You can experiment, knowing that a ‘failed’ experiment isn’t a marketing disaster; it’s a learning opportunity and a step towards a better product.

You can evolve your product, trusting the feedback and reactions of those who trust you to help you make it better and better. Along the way, you’ll get a clear idea of what it is your clients want to buy, and what you want to sell. Think of your product in the same way as you do your marketing content. Then you can be much more intentional, and clear, about what you’re offering.

Over time, you will get clearer on what you want to sell, and find the audience that want to buy it – a perfect match that takes time.

But… I don’t feel comfortable offering something before it’s ready.

I get that it can be hard to put an idea out when you feel it’s not fully ready. It’s easy to spend a lot of time and money offering something you are convinced is what people really need, only to be confronted with the reality that it’s not what people really want. (I dived deeper into needs and wants in a recent blog post.)

Anyway, the sooner you can talk about your offer and get feedback from people on it the better it will end up. After all, this isn’t just how you learn and make it better; it’s also how you can build your audience – by engaging honestly.

Award-winning offers don’t happen overnight

Even people who appear to have it all ‘working’, who are filling programs and have courses and books to offer, didn’t start with all of this ready to go. They iterated and evolved their offer, and are still doing so.

As you build trust with your marketing, you can share thoughts, plans and ideas on with your audience. Those who are interested, curious and maybe even looking for just what you’re sharing will happily give you feedback and maybe want to buy it – even before it’s ready.

Not all of the marketing content you put out there will be as successful as you imagine it will be. But the stuff that resonates? That’s the process that will help you create a marketing menu that people can’t resist.

If you want to find out more about how to show up regularly for your audience and make them curious about your offer, consider my book Reframing Marketing. It’s a three-step guide to effective and ethical marketing that will help you develop your product offer and marketing content to bring you more of your ideal clients. Order your copy directly from me at refrmaingmarkeitng.com