Weekly-ish notes on navigating big change

Month: February 2012

Self-Promotion vs. Marketing

I'm allergic to the term “self-promotion.”

Lots of crafters call it that, getting their work in front of other people, and it's not just a malapropism; it's dangerous! It  distracts you from what you should be doing.

To apologize for spilling the garlic sauce, Beau is making this face:

Beau begs you to stop calling it self-promotion.

Self-promotion sounds gross. In fact, just promoting yourself, telling everyone how great you are, is kinda gross. No one wants to be around the girl who can't stop talking about how great she can sing. (You know the girl.)

But calling it self-promotion is dangerous.

If “promotion” is the only way you're thinking of marketing, you're avoiding it. And that's dangerous, because you're probably avoiding all the other aspects of marketing, too.

(Or you're the other kind of creative, that just accepts the gross aspect of self-promotion and fills your twitter stream with “just listed [link to shop]”…but I'm pretty sure that's not you.)

Marketing, however, is the process of communicating with your people, about your product, your business and how it can help them.

Promotion is only (a small) part of the marketing equation.

It might help to know that traditional marketing (as defined in my past-life, MBA marketing classes), Promotion is just one of the 4 P's of Marketing.
In other words, it's only a quarter, of all the marketing you do for your business. In creative businesses, I have a theory that it's even less than 1/4, but we'll get into that in a bit.

The 4 P's of Marketing is a framework for thinking about your marketing mix (all the things you do to communicate with your people). Inherent in the concept of a marketing mix is the belief that Promotion isn't everything; that your focus should not only be on telling people about your work.

The other P's:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Place

Product – It all starts with what you're selling – Is it something people want? If so, what about it do people want? Is that clear? Is it remarkable? Is there a new product you can add (or delete) from your line to reach a new market?

Price – We already know that pricing is not a benefit…but it is a tool for marketing. Not just special pricing (a sale or discount), but the overall pricing strategy: Do you have a range of prices? Do your prices appeal to one market over another? What does your price say about the quality of your product?

Place – Where your product is sold directly effects the market it reaches. Is your product where it's people can find it? If you only have an online store, do you know your Right People shop online? When you pick a craft show, do you make sure your people will be there? How do you pick a shop to carry your goods? Where does news of your business show up? Is that really where your buyers are?

See, there's lots of marketing to do that doesn't involve promotion. In my next few posts, I'm going to share stories of how specific businesses can market (and grow) using the other Ps.

What Ps do you use in your marketing mix?

Is there one you want to explore?




It's a little ironic that my next class is about how to blog for your business when I am not, how shall we say, much a blogger.

What a "day off" looks likemy fancy note-taking process

The truth is, most of the work I do is behind the curtain. I spend most of my day working with people, not trying to find new people (which is what a regularly-written blog can do). I answer questions, teach Starship-only classes, send yarn to subscribers. I do my best, I write most helpfully when it's for a specific audience, when I know exactly who needs my answer (this is why I create free mini-courses via email instead of just blogging them).

This is why we created the class.

Because not everyone needs a big flashy blog to create a booming business.

Our new class (which I'm teaching with Diane, because she is a woman who knows how to blog!), is about that, the process of figuring out what you want from your blog, what your people want from it, and then creating a plan for it. Instead of numbers, you focus on reaction – What brings in your best customers? What helps them move towards you (and your products?)

When you pay attention to what your customers want, and what you want to communicate, you may even find you don't need or want a blog.

That's what happened in my crafty business, at Blonde Chicken Boutique.
I realized that even if blog posts got comments, they didn't do anything for sales. My emails helped people buy. My special customer-only emails have an crazy high open rate and an even crazier click-through and buy rate. I realized (after quite a few years of fighting it) that my yarn lovers aren't blog readers. They visit my site, sign up for the emails and then expect to the emails to remind them to buy.

So now I use the blog as a resource. I show off what customers have made and give pattern ideas… but it's less of a blog  and more like an archive of helpfulness. When my retail customers (which represents the largest percentage of my business) ask me what they can make with my yarn, I send them to past posts. Since I don't have an active shop (I sell one yarn a month, to email subscribers only), I don't need to do a lot of showing off of new products, I just email it directly to the people who want to buy it.

This is weird, I know. When all the rest of the world is tell you to blog! And make videos! And tweet! I'm telling you – you have permission to do what works.

It's not particularly glamorous.
But it works (really well).

Your way, the way that works for you and your people, might be something else entirely. You might want to blog daily. Or weekly. Or never.
I want to help you figure that out.
And more than anything, I want you to know that you have permission to use whatever works for you.

To Blog or Not to Blog…is that the question?

“Is it absolutely necessary to blog, or can I find my Right People without one? I have never been a blog reader myself; I've found most of my favorite shops via Twitter, and the idea of blogging kind of gives me the screaming heebie-jeebies”



“But I don't like blogging! Do I have to blog? If I don't, how will I get the word out?”


A few months ago, two Starship captains posted the above questions.

So we started to have the conversation: To Blog, Or Not to Blog?

Another mindmap, this time for my upcoming class with @sisterdiane

As I was thinking it through, I emailed Diane, she of all Blogging Knowledge (seriously, that woman knows how to make an addictable blog!) and  we started talking about it. Is there some way we can help people answer this question? For their own business and their own strengths?

We started compiling all our thoughts on it; the stuff she's learned through helping people tune-up their crafty blogs, what I've learned exploring crafters' businesses.

And what we came to realize is that To Blog Or Not To Blog is not the question. 


The question is: How do you make  a blog (or ANY marketing) work for you, your goals and your people

Where's the balance between what you  want to say and what your people want to read? 



As we answered this question, we found we shared a little system. A system that anyone can apply to any business, to make their blog (or their emails, or their twitter stream) balanced and in congruence with the rest of their business.

We'll be sharing this system (along with lots of worksheets to make sure you apply it to you) in our new class. You can read more and register here.


A different perspective of my hand #febphotoaday

PS. Don't miss Diane's experience (and myth-busting) as a Lucky Blogger.