Be it in business, in love and relationships, and even in war, it’s hard to create a brand that is relatable and well received to all while staying true to your introverted wallflower self. Opening up to the world, risking full exposure of your heart and soul, is frightening. What if they don’t like what they see? What if they cannot relate? Those are the questions that keep me up at night. The crux of the marketing paradox becomes figuring out how to create memorable emotional campaigns that accomplish the feat of being both relatable and honest without straying to far away from experiences and narratives that you can support. I couldn’t ethically sell ice to an Eskimo unless they really, really needed it, and it was shaped like a dragon or a sculpted shape that would add value.
To confound matters, self promotion is a nightmare for shy people (a subset of the introverts), even for those selling Girl Scout cookies, which pretty much sell themselves, due to fear of rejection. Having people politely say “No thank you” always leaves a mark of self doubt. How can you differentiate a product for others to consume or a brand to support when your personality isn’t necessarily mainstream or outgoing? How can you make a your company or the projects you lead appealing to the masses when you are extremely private or too unconventional for public consumption?
Like attracts like.
This is where differentiation kicks in. It is that intersection of culture, race, gender, and even consumption, to name a few parameters that you can use to find a market segment or consumer base to satisfy and delight. In a society in which people celebrate the individual, items like clothing and food become part of a person’s identity – you have to cater to the whole or one of their parts to establish a connection that results in a sale, a like or a follow. Even those who are unique or different from each other have common goals, norms and objectives that can be quantified and qualified into categories. Maximize the essense of the business to attract people to your mission while staying true to yourself.
This, above all: To thine all self be true.William Shakespeare, Hamlet
Case in point: President Trump vs Elon Musk. Both tweet self absorbed nonsense day in and day out without apprehension. *Cringe* However, Trump is despised in some of the same circles Elon is revered, and vice versa. The difference? The type of followers (the uneducated vs educated masses) and the relatability of their missions (both are millionaires with a different take on using power and riches for the greater good). Even though both are eccentric wealthy men, Elon’s rise and position as a tech giant makes him relatable. Trump is seen as an irresponsible trust fund brat that runs a country like he runs his enterprises: straight into bankruptcy after he extricates the most benefit for himself and his brethren. Elon’s family life, accomplishments and intellect come across as character traits to emulate and his futuristic ideas as worthy of support. In this sense, we can all map what characteristics make us relatable and exploit them, rather than try to develop another personality that doesn’t serve our vision for the sake of popularity.
Positive brand recognition, unlike infamy, requires strategic thinking. Being the first to market isn’t a guaranteed way to ensure exposure. Take Gameworks, a restaurant and entertainment center in downtown Seattle served Impossible Burgers way before Burger King ever did. However, who is getting all the glory? The hamburger giant. Why? National awareness. Ironically, Gameworks, and any other establishment serving Impossible or Beyond Meat, will benefit, and their loyal customer base may expand because they jumped on the right bandwagon. Doing what is right can make it harder for an enterprise to succeed if they do not toot their own horn, and/or fail to convince the customer their product or service is better. Benchmark what others in your space are doing and tailor it to your needs. Revenue, not popularity, is king.
Keeping customer acquisition costs low and a high retention rate is the path to entrepreneurial bliss.
The last five years of running MrsEnginerd’s blog and Zach’s many dog celeb pages have taught me that the magic of truthful yet engaging marketing for introverts is playing to your strong points. Being loyal to your values will attract a network that will genuinely promote your content/products based on their own positive experiences; one that can bring you along for the ride, giving you free (or relatively cheap) exposure. Nothing beats word of mouth and grassroots efforts. Avoid spending too much money on ads on Facebook or Instagram without proper guidance – DIY can cost you money better spent hiring experts to achieve greater returns.
Unfortunately, there’s not a one size fits all solution to the paradox. Just like Schröedinger’s assistant, we are along for the ride. For many businesses, it will take a village of loyalist and mix of marketing techniques to get you off the ground, to survive. Others will fail for lack of trying, or fade away into the sunset because they couldn’t find the magic sauce that would make them profitable. I’d dare state that all ideas, even bad ones, are marketable. It comes down to having the right people in your corner. To knowing the limits of your creativity and talent, and doing everything in your power to expand your knowledge, wisdom and experience.
If you are going at it alone, simple things like contests, raffles, asking bloggers to review your products in exchange for free swag, tagging trains or ambassador/referral programs or discounts may work best. The moment you are financially stable, or if you have cash to spare, hire a firm that specializes in finding holes in the consumer base and/or can successfully target advertising to those most likely to enjoy your company’s offerings. With a few tweaks and a cohesive battle plan you can grow your brand and following beyond your wildest dreams, without compromising your integrity or being thrust into the spotlight. Believe in yourself and be flexible, open to growth on both the personal and professional ends.
Fortune favors the bold!