So, you know how you've been fumbling around on Twitter writing awkward tweets that say things like, “So…how about that mustard?” and “FOLLOW ME, I DON'T BITE!” to which some creepy man with a mustache from Idaho immediately responds with a frowney face, making you contemplate whether or not this is a plus or a minus, because, after all, IT IS A FOLLOWER.
But soon you get tired of good ol' porn stache, so you pop on over to your Facebook page to try and “engage your fans,” except you realize you don't have any fans, so your self-esteem immediately takes a nose dive and—hey look! Cheetos! You shove no less than 14 fistfuls into your mouth before saying to hell with it and, instead, pull out a nice old-fashioned piece of paper to brainstorm how else you can promote yourself and bring in new business. Your list ends up looking something like this:
1. Table at local craft fair. <—Does it matter if I don't sell crafts? I mean, there are still people there, right? Maybe they can like my Facebook page.
2. Go door-to-door. <—Fuck that.
3. Put up flyers. <—What am I, a 14-year old member of The Babysitter's Club?
4. Is the phone book still a thing?
5. Newspaper ads. The newspaper is definitely still a thing.
6. Call Nancy, the woman who used to be your neighbor 15 years ago who had a son who had a job in marketing in 1972.
7. Pens with my logo. <—Need logo.
8. Nobody wants a pen with my logo.
10. WHAT DO ALL THE PEOPLE WANT?
11. Hold neighborhood raffle. <—Maybe I can give away my old lawn mower as a prize?
12. Sponsor something.
13. Jump around on side of road with large sign, à la tax season.
14. Slip business cards under windshield wipers in every Target within 100 mile radius.
15. Start delivering pizzas, carefully place foot in the door jam, and then pitch every person who answers the door. <—Now I've got 'em!
Oh, the fun of owning a business.
And here's what I want to say to every single one of you who ARE ACTUALLY CONTEMPLATING PUTTING YOUR LOGO ON A BUNCH OF HOT BLUE BIC PENS:
Number one, don't you dare. And number two: Stop doing things because you can't think of anything else to do.
You will not get more business—particularly sustainable business—because once some numbwad found a flyer and called the number on it. (He was stoned, by the way.) You will not get more sustainable business by setting up a craft table one Saturday–EVEN IF the craft table is covered in jelly beans. You will not get more sustainable business by sponsoring some local event and thinking that having your little purple and yellow logo printed on the back of their glossy little take-home folder is actually going to DO ANYTHING. And you certainly will not get more sustainable business by hosting one of those ridiculous tupperware parties in disguise where you promise people all the wine at your house and then PULL A CRUEL BAIT AND SWITCH AND START SHOVING COSTUME JEWELRY INTO MY LAP. (And sometimes up my nostrils. I hate when that happens.)
Stop having a one night stand with your marketing efforts. Stop pooling all of your energy just to convince one or two randos here and there to choose you. And START putting your efforts toward a different goal:
To make yourself the obvious choice for everyone—now, and later.
Whatever you're doing, there are people looking for someone like you. And whoever they are, they're either choosing you in this very minute–or they're choosing someone else. Every single minute, of every single day. And the ONLY hope you have? Isn't to tweet more. Or to post on Facebook more. Or to do any of that happy horseshit.
It's to make yourself the obvious choice—now, and later.
Put your efforts there.
Because once you become the obvious choice?
The phrase becomes an oxymoron.
Because now it isn't a choice at all.