Full disclosure. I am an introvert to the power of max. I am uncomfortable in crowded places, I find it hard to follow multiple conversations at once at a dinner party, I crave solitude and quiet and can’t stand loudness for the sake of it. When I moved to Cornwall (hours away from the hustle and bustle of London) I felt my soul physically expand, like it had more space to breath.
And yet, when people talk to me about the beauty of Cornwall, with the caveat of ‘at least you can go to x, y or z to get more of a buzz’, I find myself nodding and agreeing, while on the inside thinking: are you CRAZY, why would I want to seek out noise and ‘buzz’ when the whole point of living here is that I can finally hear myself think.
An extrovert world
The thing is, the world today is so geared towards extroverts, that even those of us who fully admit to being an introvert, find ourselves automatically conforming and nodding our heads at the notion that everyone should come alive with more stimulation, not less. Open plan offices are now the norm around the world, decisions are being made in group brainstorming sessions, and it's universally accepted that you have to be loud, confident and well-spoken to become a leader or be taken seriously. Even us self-confessed introverts kind of buy into this myth, and let it make us feel bad about ourselves.
Here’s the thing. Despite the modern world being slanted that way, being an extrovert is NOT the norm, nor the only acceptable or successful way to be. It’s estimated that half of the population on this planet are introverts, and my heart really goes out to you if you are one, and currently sitting in an open plan office with a tight chest from all the over-stimulation around you, or are trying to make your, possibly ground-breaking, ideas heard in a meeting with extroverts who don’t even notice you’re there.
Don’t get me wrong here, I am not saying one is better than the other, not at all, I am just addressing the clear bias in our society towards celebrating the qualities of extroverts and making it pretty darn hard for introverts to feel like they are able to contribute.
And you have SO much to contribute, I just know it. You just need to be able to embrace who you are, and try to work towards moulding your environment into one that allows you the space and calm you need. Lucky for us, we do have one not so secret weapon at our disposal these days, and that is the internet. Because we are connected to all the corners of the world, it’s possible for you to find your voice and a market for your particular skill set with the help of the internet. The modern trend of working for ourselves suits us so well, because we actually like spending time on our own working on our ideas, unlike extroverts, who need constant stimulation to feel at their best.
Marketing as an introvert
However, when you are self-employed and produce something you’re proud of, whether a product or a service, you will eventually run into a bit of a problem. You will have to actually market what you do. And that, my friends, is something you probably know does not come naturally to an introvert. Feeling quiet in what can be a super loud market can feel like an impossible mountain to climb, but I’m here to give you some ideas for how to climb it, one step at a time.
Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to get information out on a new thing you offer, but when it came to hitting publish on that blog post, or sending that tweet, the pressure to get the tone right was just too much? Try to avoid those ‘live’ situations, which add more stress, by scheduling all your promotional content. Write your blog posts well in advance and schedule them to go out later on. Use a service such as Buffer to schedule your promotional tweets, so you don’t have to go through the palpitations every time you send one out. Having this stuff done in advance and scheduled for when you’re not even necessarily noticing it go out, helps a LOT with getting important promotional stuff out there without it feeling too horrible.
2 Focus on the right people
So, while writing this post there is this uncomfortable feeling at the back of my mind about possibly offending any extroverts out there (I totally love you, too, extroverts, this post is just not for you), but in order to give value to you, my introverted reader, I have to focus just on you. There will always be some people who will not like or need what you’re offering. Focus on the ones who do. If it drains your energy to fend off questions or criticism from those who do not get you, just don’t. It’s ok to leave some emails unanswered or to not engage in conversations with critics who do not get what you’re doing. Always address, and learn from, criticism from your target audience, but I’m giving you a permission to ignore those who wouldn’t want what you’re offering in any case.
3 Lead with a story
Whether that story is your own story, or whether it’s the transformational story of your clients, marketing will feel a lot more authentic to you when you present it as a real life example. Practice telling your own story, and become aware of the parts of it that will help your potential clients see why you have something special to offer, why you understand their problems and how your story might help you to solve them. Get into the habit of asking for testimonials, and let your clients do your marketing for you, their story can be one of the most powerful marketing messages your services could have.
4 Find your medium
It’s easy to feel like you should be everywhere. There are so many social media platforms, and other marketing outlets, that it can sometimes feel like you need to be 10 times louder in order to keep up with all of them. Well, look, you don’t have to. Find the medium that’s comfortable for you. Whether that’s writing (newsletters, blog posts), whether it’s through images (Instagram, Pinterest), whether it’s through conversation (Twitter, Facebook), or even (yes, even!) public speaking or video content.
My preferred medium for promotion is by far writing, followed by imagery, but I do also occasionally enjoy the immediacy of speaking. You might be thinking, but hold on, that’s not introverted! Well, on the surface, the idea of it may not be. But being an introvert doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy communicating with people, or challenging myself to do things that feel scary, if it means I get something in return, like a meaningful exchange or a chance to show that it can be done. But because speaking expels so much of my energy, I can’t keep up the kind of momentum for it to be truly effective (i.e. scoping at least daily), so something like Periscope is not my main medium for sure, but more of a complementary one. And that’s just fine.
5 Do the work
Introverts very rarely get to enjoy those flash in the pan successes that a very loud extrovert might stumble upon (and even those are rarely actually accidental). Chances are you won’t become an overnight YouTube sensation, or gain a huge Instagram following due to your strong self-portrait game. What you can do, is to put the work in. Work on those ideas, refine them, and start producing content that will eventually make you an expert. If you want to be seen as the go-to expert on bobby pin art, blog about bobby pin art daily for a year and chances are by the end of it when people search for bobby pin art experts, your site will be the one that comes up top. (I’m sorry, I don’t know what bobby pin art would even be, and why it popped into my head, but feel free to run with that one if you want!)
When you do the work (and it’s good), and consistently tell people about it, they will eventually do the promoting for you.
Yup, I said network. What I didn’t say is attend big networking events and try to remember names of an overwhelming sea of people, while desperately trying to pull things to say from your overheating mind, when you really just want to run back home and sit in silence for a couple of hours. Rather, get to know people who do things that genuinely interest you. Reach out to people who’s work excites you, and connect with them one on one. Don’t contact them to tell them about the amazing things you are doing, or to ask for free advice, but rather show interest in what they are doing and offer your help if you have something to offer that might help them get ahead. The best form of networking is connecting with the people who you feel an affinity with, and forming genuine relationships.
And if you do go to an event, make it your goal to get to know just one person per event. Just the one.
I hope these tips may have helped jog some ideas for you on how you could better your marketing efforts. Just remember, consistency is the key for us quieter ones, who are less likely to make big loud splashes.