When the Boston comedy scene was at its peak, I spent a lot of time hanging out with comedians.
There was one dude, Johnny Pizzi, who had a brilliant technique for reviving a dead audience. He would pause for a second, reach into his pocket, and say into the mic, “LOOK! Shiny Shit!!” And, he would pull out a piece of foil and crinkle it between his fingers in front of the crowd.
They laughed every single time.
That’s where the joke ended: shiny shit. If the crowd wasn’t buying the material prior to the foil, they usually lost interest again shortly after, too.
It is the same with marketing.
Having fancy logos, slick head shots, gorgeous email templates, flashy business cards, and an amazing tag line are not the most important first steps for growing a fan base for your creative or heart-centered business. They are the shiny shit, and they may grab some quick attention, but it is more important to provide your audience with valuable interactions over the long term.
My biggest gripe with creative breeding grounds (conservatories, art schools, cosmetology programs, yoga certification programs, and the like) is that they do not teach trainees how to become actual entrepreneurs. Instead, after years of training, their graduates have no idea how to run their career like a business, and eventually feel like they chose the wrong field.
A colleague recently told me that conservatories are attempting to solve this problem by equipping their students with flashy press kits.
He was auditioning conductors for a regional orchestra, and many new graduates had impressive-looking photos, resumes, reviews, and video compilations. But, when he met them in person, they did not know how to interact with people, could not talk about what they would bring to the position, and were unable to run an effective rehearsal.
They LOOKED amazing.
But, it was all shiny shit.
Here’s what YOU can do to avoid the shiny shit syndrome and bring authenticity and real relationships to your entrepreneurship:
First, know exactly who you are and choose to always be authentically YOU. Don’t fall for anyone’s suggestions to change how you look, speak, or present yourself. Being true to who you are will attract exactly the people who need you in their world.
Second, know who your people are and what they need to hear. Make sure that everything you say or write speaks directly to those specific people and gives them the info they need in order to come to trust you.
Third, make no assumptions. People who aren’t you have no idea what you do. They might not even know that they could do business with you. Don’t assume that they will figure anything out when it comes to your work. Tell them. Be clear. Be repetitive.
If people are not buying from you, it is not because you don’t offer something of great value. It is also not because you haven’t invested in enough shiny shit.
People will buy from you once they have come to appreciate who you are, what you offer, and how their world will improve through your work.
A simple, authentic, clear, consistent message will do exactly that.