I don’t know about you, but sometimes I think a common marketing mistake isn’t being too pushy, but giving up too soon.
I’ve done a handful of surveys over the years about challenges people have when writing copy. High on the list is always how to stand out, how to say something different, and how not to be pushy. Now of course, you don’t want to be pushy in your marketing (in episode 34 of the podcast I talk about how mistakes in language can make you seem pushy) but the fear of being pushy holds us back if we give up too soon.
Which brings me to Tanya Tucker.
When I was 17 I auditioned for a summer acting course with the National Youth Theatre. The NYT has produced a range of actors and actresses including Daniel Craig, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Helen Mirren.
After the first audition I received a call back and my drama teacher—knowing the high number of applicants—was thrilled. I was doubly excited, because this time, in addition to a script performance they also wanted a song.
I realise now that with it being a theatre audition, something from Cats, Les Miserable, or a jazzy number from Chicago would have been perfect.
But I wasn’t listening to a lot of musicals at that time. Instead, my Walkman was burning out my dad’s cassette of: The History of Country Music, The Seventies, Volume One.
You know where this is going.
I picked from this compilation what I thought was the perfect theatrical piece: Tanya Tucker’s Lizzie and the Rainman. If you’re not familiar with this rousing and tempestuous tale, a rainmaker arrives in an arid town, offering the desperate folk his services to bring them much needed rain. But local woman Lizzie Cooper is skeptical, at one point even calling him a lying cheat.
It’s gripping stuff.
On the day of the audition, I finished my scripted piece and prepared to sing. Centring myself, I was at one with those desperate townsfolk, ready to give it my all.
“He came riding in on the sunrise, on a hot west Texas day, a fancy man in a painted wagon with some fancy things to say
Looks like you folks need some water, well water is my game, and for the small price of $100 I betcha I can make it rain…”
Filling my lungs for the chorus, I saw a hand going up.
“Thank you… that’s all”
I didn’t even get to the final verse when *spoiler alert* the rainmaker makes it rain!
(If you’re not familiar with this song it’s worth a listen. Then imagine a British teenager singing it to try and get into one of the UK’s most prestigious theatre schools… It was never going to be my Billy Elliot moment…)
Though I wasn’t surprised when the rejection letter arrived, I was gutted and gave up on future theatrical pursuits. I don’t think my mistake was choosing a country song. It was believing a rejection letter meant I had nothing of value to offer.
Since then, other experiences with rejection and persistence have shown me that a closed door doesn’t mean you can’t get into the building. There may be a window cracked open, or a side door that’s ajar.
I’m not teaching you how to break into buildings.
What I’m saying is that rejection isn’t necessarily no to your offer, it might just mean you need to tweak something before you crack the combination that gets you inside.
And now we’re back to marketing and copywriting.
If we put an offer out and it doesn’t go well, we can start to list all the reasons why someone wouldn’t want it, and it can affect our view of our product’s value and worth. What we should be doing is being more inquisitive, for example considering alternative messaging, even alternative audiences.
This week I heard an interview with Phillip Stutts on James Altucher’s podcast. Stutts uses data to research what marketing messages customers need to hear, and he’s currently promoting his book the Undefeated Marketing System.
He mentioned how a lot of businesses jump into doing what they think they should be doing marketing wise, without the data to back it up. For example, wanting to be on Facebook because everyone else is (not realising your audience hangs out on Pinterest).
Wrong channel, wrong message, wrong audience, and no response could easily make a marketer think ‘no-one wants my product!’
So if you’ve put something out there that hasn’t quite worked, it’s worth asking:
- Are there new messaging angles I can try?
- Do I need to find different audience?
- Does my marketing need to show up somewhere else?
In this week’s short podcast episode I look at why we tend to take rejection personally, as well as 3 questions you can ask a customer to give you new angles for tweaking your marketing message.