“I don’t know how many years on this earth I got left, I’m gonna get real weird with it.” – Frank Reynolds, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.
It may not speak to the pinnacle of mental health, but at one time or another I have declared almost every character on the genius comedy It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia to be my spirit animal. Frank’s comment, above, results in exclusively dysfunctional behaviour on the show (which is why we love it, no?!) but it’s the sentiment that I admire.
Forget the judgers and the haters, life is short – do what you want.
Uh, oh. I feel a meme-attack coming on…
I DO WHAT I WANT, THOR!
Where were we? Right. Getting’ real weird with it. Doing what we want. Being the most authentic version of ourselves that we can be.
Generally, excellent life advice.
Specifically? Fucking amazing marketing advice.
Sometimes I get all ugh-yuck-grody about topics like this.
Like, I’m not selling myself. I’m not a brand. I’m not a commodity. It calls up images of Adbusters or Dark Angel (nerd alert), all barcodes on necks and creepy brainwashing.
There is something we can do, though!
Using This Power For Good, Not Evil!
If you’re a solopreneur or a small biz that you are the face of, here’s an unavoidable pro-tip: you ARE the brand.
And that’s a good thing, if you work it to your advantage. Because mostly? You’re not selling a product or a service, you’re selling a lifestyle. You’re selling an experience that someone wants to have or a way they want to be. And how they want to be, if you’re doing it right? Is like you.
Position yourself as the example. As the ideal, as the super-cool-gotta-have-it that your clients/customers/audience are craving.
Let’s grab a brand example to explore this idea – something I use every day, and a brand we’re probably all kiiiiiiiinda familiar with. Apple computers. And iPods. And iPhones. And iPads.
Remember those “I’m a Mac / I’m a PC” ads? You wanna be the cute, cool, funny Mac, right, not the kinda bumbling, stuffy PC guy? They have literally personified their brand. And it’s cute, it works. Every other brand out there does this to some degree, whether it’s a celebrity spokesperson, or just an image they portray.
We gravitate towards this marketing technique like fangirls to Michael Fassbender.
I’ll personally be the other part of the example. I’ve had a few different iPods over the years. I have an iPhone. I’ve had an iBook, a MacBook, and I’m currently attached at the finger tips to a new MacBook Pro. My family has had Apple desktop computers exclusively since the early ’90s. Both of my parents still have MacBooks and iPods too.
That’s some serious brand loyalty. If all we cared about were the fastest, newest, cheapest, biggest, whatever-est computers, there would have been some PCs in there somewhere. But no. We’re creative types. We (think, at least) that we’re clever, but we’re not overly tech-saavy. We’re as impressed by how our computing devices look as we are by what they do.
Apple crafts their image and their product to go with this mindset. Even when I can see clear through it, I still gobble it up. They’ve positioned and sold themselves so perfectly as their old “Think Different” ads, that even walking into an indie coffeeshop brimming with 20 other hipsters squinting into silver MBPs I don’t think “lord save me from the sheeple.” Instead, I sigh and think fondly “MY PEOPLE, I HAVE FOUND YOU.”
The fact is, we like that feeling. We like the feeling of fitting in, even if it’s fitting into something that’s supposed to be non-conformist. Or kinda weird.
Brand selection, loyalty, and identification can serve as a shorthand for “this is what I am like,” and “this is what I believe.”
We like community, we like fitting in, and we like being able to identify “our people” in a crowd…whether this is a literal crowd, a bar, a class, or the online community. We gravitate to people who like the same things we do, share our sense of humour, have the same hobbies, dress similarly, or any number of other identifiers.
You might be protesting, you might say “I’m not that shallow,” “I don’t make judgements like that,” orrrrrrrr you may have taken the sensible route and realized I am speaking the truth and you should just go with it. So, put that in your bonnet and go to town. …what?
I’m not saying you do or should view the whole world as high school-style cliques.
What I’m saying is, when you recognize something familiar in someone else, in a brand, in a group, in whatever, you’re naturally going to be attracted to that because you think “they will understand me and I will understand them” and that can make life a whole helluva lot easier.
Ever tried to work with a client or colleague who doesn’t share your sense of humour? Or, even worse, god forbid, doesn’t HAVE a sense of humour?
Painful, right? Probably a lot of misunderstandings. And uncomfortable moments. Disagreements. Awkwardness. Maybe someone ran away screaming, or locked themselves in a supply closet. Ended up with a ball-point lodged somewhere uncomfortable. But I digress.
Now, you’re not always going to be 100% super perfect blissfully happy in everything that you do. Duh. But we can still do our damn-near-best to make things as awesome as they can be.
Be as much like YOU as you possibly can BE
You’ll attract the clients / audience / people to you who GET YOU the most. And you’ll all be monkeybananas happy about that.
Make your personality BIG.
Share you quirks and amp up your humour (or lack thereof, to which I must wonder…what are you doing hanging around here? have my shenanigans not bundled you off to the nutfarm yet?). Take the stuff that makes YOU, um, YOU, and emphasize the poop out of it. Just not in obnoxious ways. What we’re not trying to do is convert anyone to our way of thinking. We’re trying to attract the ones who will naturally get us. And hey, if our super-contagious enthusiasm convinces them to try out something they didn’t already share with you? HUZZAH.
Use yourself as an example of what you’re selling / talking about.
Remember “I am a Mac”? You ARE the lifestyle or experience customers / clients will walk away with after doing biz with you. So, make it look super funtimes awesometown. In a totally authentic way, obviously. But you knew that, right?
Get real weird with it.
Emphasize your quirks. My friend Becca, a coach and champion of freedom-seekers everywhere, just wrote a post about how she pees standing up. Yup, you read the right. SHE can pee STANDING UP. That’s how much she values freedom, and living life on her own terms. She’s willing to have the whole internets talk about her amazing stand-up pee-skillz (you did want us to pull that out as the example from your whole site, right Becca?), because it’s a totally memorable and kinda cray example that she’s living the life she’s encouraging others to go for.
I promise, you’ll connect with YOUR. PEOPLE.
If they can’t find you, they can’t get excited about all the shit you’ll have in common, or how jokes it’ll be to work with YOU YOU YOU, and not that other boring life coach who hates LOLcats and prefers Pinterest to Tumblr. Or, like, whatever YOUR THING is.
Hell, give potential clients a questionnaire to fill out re: their favourite films / records / books / social media habits, before you even agree to work together.
Actually. Hold up. I think it’s time for me to draft up one of those. …you’ll fill it out, won’t you?
Speaking of getting to know each other better…have you signed up for my ‘list yet? I’m about to revamp how I do things there, so you should probably get in on the behind the scenes goodies. It’ll be even weirder, I promise!