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This article is about how to show up with soul and your ethics, to tactfully apply a human-centered marketing strategy that values sales as much as human connection. One of my guiding principles is how what I do, makes the people who buy from me and invest in my services think and feel. It might sound silly or like a natural thing to occur to you as a business owner- but you’d be surprised how many companies lose sight of their customer as they grow, focusing instead on the profit margins and the quickest ways to financial success. As a copywriter and marketing expert, I think there are lots of quick ways to fail in business, especially when you’re a small brand or a one-person band. So, I’m going to start exactly there. Failure. Or more specifically…

Why are small businesses prone to failure?

When I graduated aged 22, I had a manager who was the Marketing Director for Manchester University’s Centre for Enterprise. There wasn’t a human-centered marketing strategy, but there was definitely, transparency and soul in their approach to marketing. I was living the marketing writer’s dream (mostly).

The business arm of the university supported small and medium businesses in the North West of England. The job was epic. My manager shared everything she knew with me and gave me every opportunity I asked for. I got to meet customers, interview them and my very own bylines!

During my time at the Centre for Enterprise, many business owners had stories of this uphill battle; putting on their armour to go out and build their business in a sea of confusion about what could really support them and correctly inform their business strategy. A lot of it was a lack of strong foundations in their financial knowledge, not understanding the importance of a marketing strategy, and not giving anyone a dedicated role to heighten the business’s visibility. People underestimate how important an expert with strong marketing expertise, communications skills and copywriting confidence is. Choose them wisely and they will lead in shaping what you share to build the right brand and how to share the product benefits that matter most to the people buying.

Job interview failures

After several months, I interviewed for the permanent post at the Centre for Enterprise. I undersold my skills and expertise and expected the managers I’d worked with to bring all of that previous experience, on their clipboard with them. However, the interview was an isolated opportunity where everyone had to be judged on a level playing field. I needed to show up and sell. When it came down to it, I was spinning in the wind during my interview, guessing at my message and what would stick with the audience in front of me. I had no strategy and, was so busy trying to be what I thought was needed, with no real foundation. It’s safe to say, I didn’t get the job.

Human connection at work: Are we our own worst enemy?

Learning how to navigate “toxic workplace culture” for the first time as a young graduate in the industry at large was a real eye-opener, and to help me through it, my Manager taught me a motto that I think about often until this day: “Kill it with kindness”.

To always meet resistance and pushback by showing up and showing love to people hell-bent on making life, or your job difficult. Well, sometimes as a solo business owner – the person making your life or your job difficult is you.

We’re hell-bent on it as business owners some days too. That’s the truth. We’re always last on our to-do list, or incredibly pinched for time trying to be involved in every business decision, or save money by not hiring someone – without really sitting down to evaluate the true cost of the dead ends, delays and plot twists. Slowly and shakily, stumbling through finding our way – without a sustainable marketing strategy.

So, here are my top three tips to build your very own human-centered marketing strategy; keeping a sense of what matters at the heart of it.

1. Understand what a good human centred marketing strategy is

A lack of strategy can make it feel like a near-impossible task when deciding how we show up to promote our business. The truth is, I don’t think you’re doing it on purpose. You’re doing things that look like marketing and feel like marketing on the surface of it all! But..(and this is a big one), what guides you through creating the ethical marketing strategy that underpins it? When you’re thinking about the tools you’ll use to make life easier, the channels you want to use to communicate and the assets you’ll create that support the brand look and feel, think of this: Is what you’re talking about relatable to your target audience? Does it align with your core values? Are you happy to listen to your customers to improve their journey?

The formula for a sustainable and human-centred strategy looks a bit like this to me:

Ideal audience and research (budget, time, social proof and available data)

+

Copywriting in the formula of your unique brand voice

+

Test, test, test, review, refine and test some more and…

2. Create digital marketing assets based on customer research

  • Websites
  • Email flows – (welcome and post-purchase flows to name a couple)
  • Lead funnels – (for attracting people to you)
  • Visual Media

Leading to conversion, i.e. people who will pay to hear from you, hire you and invest in your offers.

This isn’t something you can achieve by fluke, (not for any sustained length of time without a plan anyway).

I’ve seen many business owners spend unimaginable time and money on marketing, yet, still struggle to take time away from the marketing cycle because they’re holding on to all the tasks. Looking left and right, replicating competitors without really understanding the other business’s strategy, and failing to differentiate with their own identity in any meaningful way.

3. Be clear on ethical marketing strategy and what it means to your business

Failure to be clear about what we stand for, who we’re for and how we work with people is a recipe for disaster in the long run.

  • Especially when we don’t communicate who we are (even if we know what we stand for).
  • Even more so when we haven’t asked our people if what we’re offering meets their needs.
  • If we don’t listen to what they want done differently and take action on it!

So, I’m giving you a little nudge to dive into asking meaningful questions about what underpins your sustainable marketing strategy. If you’re unsure, maybe now is the time to ask for help.

I’m Dionne, founder of the best website copywriting business on the web. I’m your business running partner, I offer laser-sharp insights and run-with-you implementation: I’ll give you the strategy to grow well and the tools to pull up your sleeves with confidence. If you like what you’ve read, you can join me every Sunday, inside your inbox by signing up to receive the Dark Side of the Light Chasers newsletter.

Until the next time, keep living La Dolce Vita 😉.

Dee x

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