5 self-promotion tactics for quiet people

 9 August 2015

Marketing yourself can be hard when you are a naturally quiet person. Pete Mosley, advisor to creative people and businesses, shared five top tips on how to self-promote.

"Don’t go to networking sessions to sell. Go to listen to other people." (Image: © Crafts Council)

Marketing is about building relationships. Creating and maintaining a great relationship with your audience is the best way to build a sustainable creative business.

Shouting about your work can be really painful for a quiet person.

Over the lifetime of your business, around 80 per cent of your turnover will come from around 20 per cent of your customers. The 20 per cent are the people who keep coming back for more because they trust you and empathise with your story and the way you do business.

So, as a quiet person, how do you go about building that trust? Primarily it is about letting people discover and connect with your values. Your story is a much more important component of your marketing strategy than you may think.

1. Have a brilliant ‘about me’ page

The two most visited pages on a creative person’s website tend to be the gallery/product display page and the 'about me' page.

Asking for help is not an admission of failure – it’s a statement of courage, integrity, and openness to change.

Visitors are interested in your product, of course, but they also want to connect with you – and will try to do that by looking for a picture of you and by trying to get a sense of your creative voice.

They go looking for a bit of back story – not just a CV and list of achievements. They tend to be unimpressed by wordy artist’s statements. Who are you? Where are you from? What makes you tick?

Unless your 'about me' page has some good storytelling, you may not create the empathy you need or build enough trust to get the response you really want.

2. Use distinctive images, infographics or maps

All the statistics say that adding pictures to your social media posts will result in a far higher level of sharing and reposting. This is undeniably true. It’s also true that everyone else is playing the same game.

Do a bit of research – what sort of images entice you to follow links? How are they distinctive? The name of the game here is differentiation – what can you do to stand out?

For some creatives, posting images of work is enough. For others whose primary output is not visual, it may come down to creating maps, drawings or infographics to lead people in. Celebrate your non-conformity in your choice of images.

As a creative person, showing off your differences will create more benefit than replicating what others do.

3. Self-promote through thought leadership

Thought leaders notice things and then share them. Outstanding thought leaders notice and share things that are of particular interest to their niche.

Your story is a much more important component of your marketing strategy than you may think.

You can lead in this way without creating any original content at all – in effect you curate your Facebook or Twitter stream by gathering really interesting content that is highly relevant to your audience.

People will come to regard you as a ‘go to’ source of great snippets to read, watch and enjoy. Then when you put your own message into that stream they will pay more attention and follow your own links more willingly.

This may seem time-consuming, but it's actually a fun way of combining research into topics that you love with your own need to share stimulating information. If an article excites you it will probably excite others too.

4. Use ninja tactics when networking

If you hate attending networking events, ask yourself this really radical question: do you really need to go to them at all? Sometimes it can be more effective to identify key people – the ‘gatekeepers’, I call them – and contact them directly with a well-prepared letter, or call instead.

Selling – shouting about your work – can be really painful for a quiet person. The danger is you end up standing in the corner clutching your drink and pretending to read the posters.

So don’t go to networking sessions to sell. Go to listen to other people – you’ll soon find out if they are a potential client or collaborator. Then you can contact them later in your own ‘non salesy’ way.

Some professional networkers recommend identifying one or two people you want to talk to before you go to the meeting. Doing a bit of preparation like this can help you feel more relaxed when you get there.

Let your gut instinct tell you who to talk to. Ask interesting open questions. Avoid the obvious, ‘What do you do?’ We all hate being defined by our jobs, so ask how their business works or who their dream client would be – stimulate an imaginative conversation and things will flow more easily.

The other ‘Olde worlde’ tactic that I find works well for me is asking someone I know already to introduce me to the person I want to link up with. It’s much less embarrassing than trying to do it yourself and fluffing your lines.

5. Tell your story

Talk to other people about your hopes, dreams and aspirations. The person you need help from might well be closer than you think. By failing to explain what you want to do and the sort of help or advice you need, you could well be depriving someone else of the pleasure of giving you a much-needed ‘leg up'.

Around 80 per cent of your turnover will come from around 20 per cent of your customers.

Asking for help is not an admission of failure – it’s a statement of courage, integrity, and openness to change. The world is full of good people who are more than willing to respond to honest and humble requests for help.

I always wanted to do a TED talk. I went for some business coaching and the coach asked me to name a few big ambitions. "I’d like to do a TED talk," I said. She grinned and said, “I organise them".

For goodness sake, don’t keep your ambitions to yourself.

This article draws on Pete Mosley's book The Art of Shouting Quietly, a guide to self-promotion for introverts and other quiet souls. To find out more about Pete's work, including training, mentoring and talks for school, college or university groups, visit The Art of Work.