Some days it seems that everybody wants to tell you how to do your thing. Sometimes it seems that there is more advice out there than you could ever hear, and most of it contradicts something else that is the “way to go” according to somebody.
So that raises the question – how do you select which is actually useful and which advice needs to be buried at the back of the garden and expunged from your mental library? You can use some simple guides – will that action drive somebody else crazy? will it frustrate and annoy? If so, get rid of it. This should roughly halve what is being shouted at you.
But then it gets a little bit more difficult. How do you break up the ice berg that is left, blocking your efforts through a confused cacophony of screaming mental demands? My first step is to assess the comfort. A little outside your usual zone of comfort can be a good thing, but we are not all the same. Some of us are much more comfortable walking up to a stranger, some are better with writing advertising copy, or you might even prefer singing and dancing. You could do things that would fit in all these categories, but there is one certainty: If you are not comfortable doing it, then it will never be an effective promotional effort.
So you need to be honest with yourself – and ask the question: Am I comfortable doing this? If the answer is no, then you must ask: Why not? Sometimes the second answer tells you this is an insecurity that you must face and change, and sometimes it tells you that the entire thing is a bad deal and you then know to cast it aside.
One other thing is certain: if you push ahead with a promotional activity you are not comfortable with, it shows. It sends a message to your target promotional audience that will not sell your work. If anything, it will harm your sales because you will come across as not genuine or as dishonest.
When Billy from marketing tells you you must do something because that is how it is done, Billy is usually being an idiot. Billy is ignoring YOU, and when selling your creative work, YOU are a major aspect of the product. If Billy is not selling YOU as you are, then billy needs to be fired.
We all have particular skills and social outlets, we all have particular marketing avenues that work for us. Mine work for me, yours work for you. A true piece of marketing advice will show you a new way of harnessing that which you already have in a way that brings you better results. If it requires you to change WHO YOU ARE in any way, then it is bad advice.
So how do you choose the advice to listen to? Examine it. If it allows you to remain true to yourself in every way that matters to you, and allows you to stand tall and say you have not compromised yourself, then it is probably advice you can learn something from. Otherwise, it is advice best suited to somebody else.
Stay true, keep trying, and seek that which suits you and your work, rather than that which suits Billy from Marketing’s quota. Sometimes we manage to “outsource” this marketing gig – if you find somebody you can trust to do it all for you, without compromising your values or style, then I wish you the best of luck!