The marketing trend that is hurting our businesses (and sanity).

Newsflash: If you don’t start reading listicles and marketing tips critically, you are hurting your business (and sanity).

Here’s why:

I am guilty of giving tips away and it’s because people want to hear them. They want to believe the story that there are only 10 things; they can read in 1 minute, which will help them gain 1,000 followers in two weeks. The truth is I want to believe this story too. If I believe it and it works, my job becomes a lot easier. Yours does too right?

I also want to be clear that when we read listicles full of tips, we aren’t being lied to by any means, but we aren’t being told the whole story.

This is dangerous because we start believing a story of ease, and strong disconnects form between want and reality.

I wrote a blog post about doubling my email subscribers in two weeks. The things I wrote about DID work for me, and I hope that they will work for you, but I left out a ton of information. I didn’t talk about my phone call with my coach where we spent an hour coming up with an email marketing strategy. I didn’t talk about the months of iterating, not having things work, and only getting a trickle of subscribers. I didn’t talk about the shame of being a marketer with low numbers, and the hours I spent on Pinterest trying to find an article that would help me fix it. I didn’t tell you about hiring someone to help me with branding and building my website.

In short, I didn’t tell you anything about “baking the cake.”

I simply handed you the can of frosting with nothing to frost and said, “Have a nice day.” Unfortunately the process of “baking the cake” is too long and messy to put in a listicle. I can’t write that blog post in an hour and bang out a catchy blog graphic to be repinned 500 times on Pinterest. That’s not realistic and that’s okay.

We don’t need to be told the whole story, and we can happily consume content in this way, but we need to keep in mind that this isn’t the whole story. We need to keep this in mind because when we don’t, we are harming our businesses (and sanity).

We are harming our business because when we believe that the answers to our marketing woes can be found in a blog post we start focusing on our vanity metrics, stop listening to our clients/customers, and stop focusing on making our service/product better. Consequently all of the “tips” we consumed aren’t going to work for us and we are going to feel really bad about it.

That right there will make your marketing woes a gazillion times worse, and send your business down a mudslide.

So here is my challenge for you. If you are spending a lot of time marketing and it’s not working don’t go on Pinterest and look at more social media tips. Step back and look at your brand/product as a whole. Start thinking about how you can make your product/service more marketable. If you have clients and they aren’t singing your praises, your services aren’t making a big enough impact on them. If people are buying your product and they aren’t coming back for more (or telling their friends), your product isn’t where it needs to be.

I am NOT telling you, “Your product or service sucks.” I know you are a creative genius, and I know it most certainly does not suck. I hope you know that too. I AM telling you to listen and iterate. Listen to the silence. People are telling you something about your product/service by not telling you anything.

Start listening to them and start iterating until that cake is perfectly sweet, fluffy, and moist. You can frost it later, or better yet your happy clients/customers can frost it for you.

If you want more of the “how” on this topic I recommend you read Seth Godin’s book, The Purple Cow. It’s awesome and will blow the roof off of your current marketing beliefs.