How is your business like a marriage?
Do you remember the first word you ever said?
I don’t even remember the first words my kids said. Maybe Momma? Dada?
But I DO remember the first word that Melanie ever said.
Melanie was the young daughter of a photographer I worked for in my early twenties. Some days I worked in the darkroom at his photo studio, some days I was sorting negatives. And some days I looked after little Mel if her Mom got called in to work.
Those were the fun days.
Mel was a sweetie pie with a head full of blonde curls and lots of energy. But she didn’t talk.
I spent most of my time with her trying to get her to say MY name. I thought it would be funny if her very first word was Kim. Just another feather in my cap!
But on the big day, when Mel uttered her first word, we were all a little dumbfounded.
She said, “Brolio”
Brolio!! WHAT? I mean, I was disappointed that I couldn’t coax her into saying Kim. But what about Mama or Dada? Brolio. BROLIO!
Turns out, Brolio was the name of their cat. Melly consistently heard that word over and over (and over) again. Of COURSE she said the word she heard most frequently. Of COURSE she said Brolio!
But that got me thinking about being consistent and how consistency is SO important in marketing.
When I work with clients, our approach is usually two-fold: Get their marketing house in order and then KEEP it in order. I sometimes refer to it as the wedding and the marriage - the planning phase and then the nurturing phase. (that nurturing phase lasts forever, btw!)
Figuring out your brand story and strategy, your ideal customer, what you are selling, how you price it - all the upfront stuff - is like getting your house in order. It’s planning the wedding.
It’s a lot of work, you do it once, at the beginning, then it’s done.
You’ve made the promises, had the big celebration and launch, and now it’s time to keep those promises. (I know, I know, you can renew your vows. That’s another story!)
The marriage is the everyday part. It’s KEEPING your house in order. It’s what you do consistently to make sure your relationship stays strong and keeps working.
The marriage part of marketing is actually writing and sending the regular email you promised to send, the blog posts and social media messages that you committed to. The phone calls just to catch up with clients, recording the podcast, whatever you do to stay connected to your customers.
Being consistent with your marketing keeps you top of mind, builds those relationships with your customers and helps you position yourself as that go-to person in your industry.
I'm not sure if consistency is the secret to a happy marriage...but I'm damn sure it's the secret to a successful business!
There will be bumps in the road. Times when you are so busy with client work that the promotional promises that you’ve kept to your own business get put on the back burner. That’s a bad idea. (Don’t ask me why I know that.)
Prioritize your own marketing. And if it’s hard to do, do less. Figure out what is totally doable, and commit to that. It’s better to be doing SOMETHING to keep yourself out there than nothing at all.
Oh, and that cat was named after a bottle of wine. OF COURSE she was!
PS: Happy Birthday Melly - I know you just celebrated a milestone! You've expanded your vocabulary quite nicely since I first met you.
Thanks so much, Kim!!! Too bad the cat's name was kim too :). Ironically, your article speaks to me as I'm starting to market my services. Great tips you provided. I like the part about keeping things doable - I am trying to commit to 2 or 3 social media posts per week. That seems doable for me :).
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The Small Business Guide
Kim Houlahan is a marketing consultant who loves helping small business owners improve their marketing.
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