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The X-Rated Guide to Developing a Marketing Plan. Without Losing Your Mind. Or Your Shirt. Cuz That’d Be Awkward.

In: Online Marketing

So. Today we're going to talk marketing. Some of the most common things I get are:

  • I have no idea what my unique value proposition is
  • I can't figure out why anyone would listen to me
  • I am clueless as to what it even means to “market myself effectively.”-

Before we get into this, we need to talk about what marketing is really used for, and why you gotta dig in and get ‘er done.

In order to do that, I'd like to start with a little anecdote that makes me want to stab my eyes out, but I'll tell it anyway because it's good for you.

Once upon a time, I was heading up the marketing efforts for a company in Philadelphia. I was working to complete rebrand the company from head to toe, reposition ourselves within the local market, build awareness, and, most importantly, drive sales. Mind you, this was before the public had access to Facebook, and long before Twitter hit the scene.

It was one hell of a party.

Ultimately, my marketing efforts were successful. So successful that the phones began ringing non-stop–so much so that our company couldn't keep up. So naturally, I did what any person helping to run a small business would do–I took on the role of sales person, too. (This is where the eye stabbing comes into play.)

I would perform my marketing functions in the morning, and go out on sales calls in the afternoon.

Marketing and sales were two very different functions; my marketing activities would generate prospects and make the phone ring, and then I would go out and meet with those prospects, perform my sales duties and close the damn deal. I held a reputation for consistently closing on first meeting. (I swear that's not as dirty as it sounds.)

But now that you think of it, I marketing and sales could be compared to an orgasm. 

I warned you this would be X-Rated.

So orgasms.

If you think of marketing and sales in terms of an orgasm (clearly where we were going with this), marketing = everything you do to get the girl in the door and get her fired up, and sales = actually closing the deal, ifyaknowwhatImean.

In other words, she can't have the orgasm if she isn't turned on.

In other words, she can't be sold to if she isn't primed for the sale.

In OTHER WORDS, you need marketing if you want sales.

Sales don't fall from the sky. Unfortunately, neither do orgasms. These are just the facts of life, people. Just the facts of life.

So clearly, marketing is pretty damn important. And all of the things that go into marketing are pretty damn important.

Things like figuring out your USP (unique selling proposition), which basically answers the question: What makes me the bomb?

Or things like, “Who else is going to think I'm the bomb, and who else is going to want to buy my stuff because of it?” (That's called a target audience.)

Or things like, “How am I going to reach these people to show them that I'm the bomb in the first place?”

Or things like, “What will make these people who think I'm the bomb, go from LOVING my work to BUYING my work?” (This seems to be a big hurdle for many.)

So. Since the answers to these questions are pretty imperative, I put together a mini list of questions to get you started. If you really put some time into this, you WILL have a much better idea of who you are and what you have to offer, and you WILL be able to go forth and conquer the world that much easier. Not that I was ever doubting you or anything.

Ready, lovahs? Let's do it. Get out a notebook. Don't make me beg.

  1. What about your industry makes you cringe? For me, this is generic corporate jargon. If you don't know, get reading. Read blogs. Sign up for newsletters (sent to a special email address set up for research, of course, so you don't go insane). Check out magazines. Books. Forums. Whatever you can get your hands on. Then, when you come across something that immediately makes you think, “OHFORGOD'SSAKE,” you know you've hit your mark.
  2. How can you do things differently in your business to reduce the cringe-factor? For me, this clearly includes writing marketing posts with the word “orgasm” in them.
  3. How does this help you to become better or different than everyone else out there doing something similar to what you want to do? For me, my brand is built around making business fun. For you, this is something you really need to think about. Don't stress yourself out in trying to come up with some earth-shattering new idea that's never been done before (you will have a hard time); work on figuring out how you can add your own edge, spin, style, touch or variation to something. For example, the information I'm giving you now is not unheard of by any means. But people don't come to my website hoping that I've invented some brilliant new concept; they come because of the way I deliver useful information or inspiration that they need. What will make them come to you?
  4. Who are the people that would appreciate the better or different way you do what you do? For me, these are people who want to learn how to build their own businesses, create freedom, and improve their lifestyle, but who are bored by generic biz advice and/or overwhelmed by it.
  5. Now juxtapose that with the people that YOU would absolutely LOVE to work with. For me, there are many people out there who are bored by generic biz advice, but who might not be someone I would love to work with. My ideal client/reader is someone who appreciates a sense of humor and doesn't mind when I talk about orgasms in the context of a post. As a matter of fact, they don't just not mind – they like it. That's my target.
  6. Envision this person. What's his/her name? Most often when doing this exercise, you're encouraged to assign a tangible age, sex, occupation. etc. to your ideal target reader (which is nice for visualization), but truthfully, what's most important here are not surface-level commonalities, but rather, deeper psychological commonalities in terms of thought-processes, beliefs, values, and challenges. What problems keeps this person awake at night? More importantly, as the result of these problems, what emotions does this person feel? Draw a stick figure of your dude or dudette, list these things out, tack it in front of your computer, and make decisions based on what will help THEM. They are your new messiah, and they will help you make focused, informed business decisions. (Ones that lead to sales. Huzzah!)
  7. Now – what specific things can you do or make, so that this person instantly feels like YOU GET THEM. The reaction you want is, “Holy smokes, this site was MADE for me.” One of my favorite quotes that I have in an image on my desktop is actually, “Become the company you'd want to do business with. Or, die trying.” I recommend you take that advice to heart.
  8. Where does this person hang out, online or otherwise? Don't be a wallflower; go hang out there, too, and make yourself known.
  9. What do you suppose they might be Googling when they're looking for what you have to offer? You might want to play with your SEO a bit to drive more organic traffic.
  10. How can I get my current contacts to refer me? Bribing with beer never hurt.
  11. Is there someone with a bigger audience than me that I can team up with to create a product or an offering? You don't have to split profits 50/50, you know. You can always volunteer to do the majority of the work, and in turn, they put their name on it and promote it to their audience, helping you to build your list, which is essentially your cut of the deal. Not too terrible an idea, as long as your product isn't shit. Hint: Do not make shit.
  12. How can I get current fans involved with my mission? (More important than you think.)
  13. Why might people be scared to buy your PRODUCT OR SERVICE? It's usually not about the money. Think deeper.
  14. Why might people be scared to buy YOUR product or service? We know it's hard to imagine that–ohmygod–someone wouldn't think you were amazeballs? But hey, it happens.
  15. What the fuck can you do about it? Your job is to figure out why someone might be hesitant to buy your product or service, and how you can overcome that objection. Or at least address that objection and make them feel like you understand their hesitancies.
  16. Do it.
  17. Is it clear what you're offering, and what the benefits are? People don't buy stuff if they aren't 100% exactly sure what they're getting. Don't make them infer, imagine or otherwise assume. Be crystal clear, even if you think it's beyond obvious. Sometimes, it's not.
  18. Is it clear how to buy what you're offering? Not everyone uses PayPal for everything under the sun. (Though my friend Colin recently joked that if need be, he would bail me and Carlos, who was visiting, out of jail–but only if the jail accepted PayPal. Which was kind of hilarious. And no–we didn't go to jail. Jerks.)
  19. What are you doing that's worth talking about? Everyone wants to be talked about, but few people do anything worth talking about. Say that as a mantra before you go to bed at night or some shit, because it's important.
  20. Last but not least, why should anyone genuinely care about what it is that you're doing? How does it help them? There's a difference between being popular and being talked about, and being an authority and being talked about. Remember that.

Wasn't that fun?

If you want, feel free to do this exercise below in the comments section. Or just have lengthy conversations debating the merits of Kraft Mac-N-Cheese versus Velveeta Shells-N-Cheese. (For the record, I'm a Velveeta girl through and through.)

And then do me a favor, and retweet or Facebook share this sucker – I'm really hoping that rumors will be spread that I've now entered the pornography industry with my X-Rated biz-nass. Ha.

That's the kind of thing you can definitely use PayPal for.

Not like I've ever tried or anything.

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I'm a Bad Influence on Women

Hey, I’m Ash! Twenty years ago I was a small town girl growing up in a trailer park in rural Pennsylvania. Fifteen years ago, I lost my family and everything I knew right as I became the first to graduate college. Fourteen years ago, I found myself leaving everything behind for a new life in the city where I could be “normal.” Ten years ago I realized normal was the most disappointing thing that ever happened to me. Nine years ago I quit my job in advertising and pursued my dreams as a creative writer. Eight years ago, I built a 6-figure business doing what I love using nothing more than the Internet and my voice. And now, today, I’m the founder of The Middle Finger Project, an irreverent media co. that helps other women find their voice and teaches them to use it to build whatever the f*ck they want to. With a book coming out with Penguin Random House in February 2020 (YASSS, WE’RE A PRODUCT IN TARGET!) I’m proud to be a bad influence on women and guide them into doing something disobediently brave with their life and their career.

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