Marketing for Introverts

Notice Me! Notice Me! Said almost no introvert ever.

Posted Mar 04, 2018

I’m starting a new book project and have been immersing myself in the latest information about book publishing, which pretty much comes down to one word: marketing. Whether you are running a small business or entrepreneurial venture, creating a product, writing a book, or offering a professional service (attorney, accountant, psychologist, etc.), you are also a marketer. As an introvert, this is not always music to my ears. 

(I should clarify. Introverts are not a one-size-fits-all group. I should not assume that just because you’re an introvert you hate marketing. I also think there's a difference between self-marketing and marketing for someone else. If you’re an introvert who likes marketing, I suggest you start a private business as a marketer for introverts. It should be quite successful. But for introverts like me who find self-marketing a challenge, please read on.)

There was a time when running a private practice in many professional fields meant you needed a license, a private office, a desk, several comfortable chairs, a locked filing cabinet, and a sign out front. And for some practitioners that’s still the way to go. But for many, the private practice industry has really become the entrepreneurial industry with lots of fascinating ways to explore the limits of practicing your profession. (If you’re a licensed professional in any field, be sure to check the ethical/legal guidelines before moving too afar in the online/marketing world. There are likely to be limitations on your scope of practice, advertising ability, etc.)

Here’s a great example of marketing from one of my favorite online psychologists, Dr. Robert Duff, known online as Duff the Psych. (First smart marketing move: give yourself a clever name which is memorable and approachable/friendly.) Just taking a look at his website tells you all you need to know about the ways in which one can expand from the classic office environment described above. His landing page will quickly post an email sign-up request and an offer to send a free eBook about “10 Common Thinking Traps.” (Consider signing up: his info is great.) It then lists the following tabs:

Blog / Hardcore SelfHelp Books / Podcast / Course / Services / Resources / Contact

A quick glance tells you he’s not only running a private practice in a traditional office setting, he also offers online appointments, podcasts and blog posts, and is developing an online course. He has a YouTube channel, a Twitter feed, an Instagram account and a Facebook page. He probably has more; I got worn out just looking it all up. 

I think he’s doing a terrific job with social media and marketing. (Note: I do not know Dr. Duff and I have no idea if he is at heart an extrovert or introvert; I am presenting his site simply as an excellent example of comprehensive professional marketing.) He presents himself as knowledgeable but not authoritarian and provides just enough self-disclosure to be authentic and genuine. You believe he wants to help you, and not just because it will increase his bottom line. In doing this, he proves an important point about marketing: it can’t just be about the hype and sales. There has to be substance behind the information, whether that’s in the individual’s expertise or character. Your marketing must be about the best of you—and you need to be at your best in your marketing materials. 

This type of website and the accompanying materials represent a major commitment of time, energy, and possibly money. It’s what is needed in today’s competitive world where it’s harder and harder to capture the attention of potential clients or customers. But it also represents a level of public visibility and interaction that might make some introverts uncomfortable. How do you balance this desire for privacy in an increasingly public world?

It’s so easy to read what others are doing and get caught up in a comparison trap. The pressure from online marketing sites is intense. According to the marketing wizards, for instance, if you want to be a successful author, it’s not enough to have Twitter or Facebook (or whatever) accounts—you also have to have lots of followers. And I mean LOTS of followers. As in five- to six-figures of followers. And an email list. Maybe this knowledge inspires you to get online: it makes me feel like giving up. It just seems too public; too intrusive, and more interactive than I care to be. 

After reading a lot of marketing advice, I found myself feeling disenchanted. They just weren't speaking to me. I want to be part of the marketing game, I even enjoy parts of it (like writing this blog), but I don't want to emulate some late-night TV infomercial. I call the way I feel about marketing “When FOMO meets TMI.” It seems impossible to do all the work marketing requires and still do my job. And so much of the marketing advice online seems crass and superficial. 

But then I found a brilliant piece of advice that really resonated for me. Jeff Goins, a prolific writer and marketing guru himself, published a blog post titled: “Stop Trying to Be Famous and Build a Body of Work Instead.” He cautions against the attention-seeking behavior that comprises so much of online marketing. Focus on what you love: your writing, your profession, your clients. Craft any marketing around that, not around someone else’s marketing scheme. Sometimes we just get caught up in all the hype and forget our original purpose for writing our books, providing a service, or starting a business. For many of us the purpose is to help or educate others first.  As is often said, the money will follow.

It’s one thing to look at the online presence of someone in your field and analyze what they have done to improve their impact or market themselves; it’s another to just randomly search the internet and compare yourself to all the flashy, noisy, prolific sites and people. They are not you and you are not them. I think of the quote erroneously attributed to Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” Regardless of its source, I suspect that is excellent marketing advice. 

Knowing that marketing can be hard, time-consuming, and might be working against your natural tendency to be quiet, how do you proceed? 

  • Start by playing the game with your rules. 
  • Find a way to market yourself that fits your personality and style.
  • Be genuine.
  • Work on your marketing tasks, and then back away when you've reached your limit.
  • Consider what aspects of your business, products, or yourself you need to market. 
  • Consider only using the best venues for you, because you don't have to be everywhere at all times. LinkedIn might be your best and only venue depending on your profession. 
  • Find the marketing activities you enjoy and make the most of them.

Here are 5 tips for making the process of self-marketing less cringe-inducing. I hope you find them helpful.

1. Determine the advantages you have from being an introvert. If you’re a reader or researcher, you likely have lots of potential topics to write about. And you may even enjoy writing—a great advantage for online marketing. Content is king, as they say. This might actually be fun. Also, marketing is not always about being noisy and prolific. I notice that because I don’t speak up a lot at meetings, when I do, people pay attention. I think the same principle can apply to marketing. You don’t have to blog or send an email every day or even every week.  You may not need to be as prolific as everyone says. We have all signed up to get a free pdf only to be inundated with daily emails from the vendor. And then we unsubscribe. Even great blogs with valuable info can lead to reader fatigue if they arrive too often. Know your market and what your clients/readers expect or want. You might be pressuring yourself to produce a lot of content unnecessarily. 

2. Do your research, but keep your skeptic lenses on: remember that a majority of the information on marketing comes from extroverts. As much as the marketers like to talk about communication and relationships, their bottom line is sales. You are reading material produced by arguably the most extroverted of extroverts: sales people. The American Marketing Association recently surveyed 1000 marketing professionals and found that “overall, the survey respondents tend to be more extroverted than introverted.” And much of the marketing advice is opinion, not research-based facts. Their advice may not speak to you as an introvert. So tread carefully: take what you need and leave the rest.

3. Assume you will get overwhelmed. How do I feel when I finish reading the articles, blog posts, and pdf’s; listening to the podcasts; and watching video tutorials on marketing? Tired. Those of you who have read my other posts know that I’m big on “energy” as an indicator. If I feel my energy going up, I know I’m on the right track.  Energy going down, back away. EXCEPT- that’s not always a valid measure when my energy is influenced by my introversion and/or anxiety. When I read a little, I gain energy and excitement. Too much? I start to feel overwhelmed and my energy drops. But this doesn’t mean I should quit the idea of marketing. It means it’s time to stop temporarily and sort out what I have just learned. Yes, those posts of “75 Things You Should Do to Market Yourself” are a little daunting. But you need to remember that you don’t have to do all 75 things. Instead, if the article is valid, you can go through the list and just select two or three items to try.

4. Focus on your “why.” What is the purpose for your book, business, project, or service? Why do you do what you do? If you’re running a business, the first “why” is likely because you need customers and income, but you need to think deeper if you’re going to keep your marketing from turning into a nonstop sales pitch (which will backfire on you).  Why are you in the specific business you’re in?  How are you helping people? How are you making a difference? How are your customers or clients better because they worked with you or bought your product?  How do you find your energy in your product or service?  Start with the “why” of your work and focus on educating your customers or clients. How can you make their lives better?

5. Pick your mentors and gurus carefully. There’s a lot of advice out there and it is easy to go down the rabbit hole of reading too much. Don’t just read about your own area; read marketing advice across subject areas. Marketing advice given to authors can be just as valid for those running businesses and vice versa. Find the good ideas no matter which genre they are in. Here are some of my go-to resources in several areas. Just click on their names to find their information:

Book writing/marketing:

Jane Friedman

Jeff Goins

Christina Katz

Personal or Business Branding (including managing a private practice):

Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port

Right Brain Business Plan by Jennifer Lee

Content Rules by Ann Handley

I hope this has been a helpful start, particularly if you’ve been avoiding the marketing side of your work. From experience, I can tell you that it gets easier. The social media sites can be fun and you meet interesting people. You get used to interacting with the public and having your name "out there" in the online world. I am immensely grateful to the individuals above (and many more) who took the time to write such helpful materials and provide guidance to my work. 

©2018 Katharine Brooks