How To get Heard, Even During Holiday Launch Overload

Nov 29

"They've got stars upon thars!"
It’s the holiday season, and that means big, overwhelming things are afoot in the Internet Marketing world. Mostly, it means my email and social media streams are full of high-pressure messages, limited time discounts, big promises and offers from affiliates that pretty much pay you to sign up through them.

How can you compete with that, if you’re the newest Quirkipreneur on the block, trying to bring some attention to your quiet, reasonably priced little holiday offer?  Or as the loverly Michelle of Let’sRadiate put it yesterday,

“How do you promote your holiday special without slamming peoples’ inboxes and making them want to punch you in the nose?”

Damn good question.

Damn good question, with a lot of potentially damn good answers.

I’m not going to pretend to be any kind of launch expert – I mostly do a kind of anti-launch, so my things stay small, low key, and quiet (which is why you’ll usually see me back off just about the time you think I’m going to explode into visibility)

But I do know how to get that small, low key voice of mine noticed, when I want to.

I can’t out-bark the big dogs of Internet Marketing, so I don’t even try.  And no matter how often I tweet, email, FB or plus an offer, it’s going to get lost in the noise of the pack, UNLESS I do something to make it stand out.

Examples of stand-out offers?

I always open mailings and blog posts from Havi Brooks, because even though I know I probably cant participate in whatever Thing she’s doing, I want to feel like I’m connected to her and her community.  I want to see the goofy, playful, off the cuff way she promotes, because it makes me feel all warm and snuggly and laugh. And I want to be involved. So I read her promos.

Likewise, I almost always open everything from Hugh MacLeod @GapingVoid because his cartoons alternately touch me and make me laugh, and when he writes, the information is so very useful and insightful. I don’t mind a bit when he pitches a sale, because he provides so much value, in so many ways.

And I clearly remember Brian Clark’s initial sales pitches  for the charter edition of Teaching Sells – they was that effective. It was a carefully crafted series of blog posts and emails, each one with valuable, relevant, well written information in it – information that was worth reading and saving even if I didn’t take the course, information that kept me not just reading each email, but *looking* for them. (I actually dug one of them out of my spam box, if I recall)

Oh, Christmas Tree, Oh, Swirly Tree!

I’ve been a repeat customer
for all three of those folks.

It wasn’t hype or social proof that convinced me.   It wasn’t the loudness of the offers (TeachingSells was the only loud promotion in the bunch, and at it’s loudest, wasn’t anything like the affiliate launches of today). And I wasn’t nagged into it with repetitive emails.

Mind you, there is a repetitive factor in each example.

  • Havi works the concepts of her offers into many of her posts, keeping them in reader’s awareness without being obvious.
  • Hugh doesn’t repeat individual offers much, but his artwork keeps me looking for his emails, and keeps me subtly aware that his stuff is for sale.
  • With TeachingSells, there was a repetitive series of emails, each with a call to action, but each email had value on its own, which is why I opened them.

But if that repetition wasn’t creative, if it hadn’t made me smile, or left me feeling connected, or better educated, it wouldn’t have worked.  What worked was the benefit I got out of the promotion itself.

Build your promotions so
they don’t feel like promotions.

Create your sales pitches so they don’t make the recipient feel sold to.  Put as much care into your marketing emails as you put into creating the product… craft your promotions so they make people laugh, smile, cry, be inspired, or learn something.  Create sales pitches and materials that help people feel included, invited, understood, a part of something larger than themselves, and helped, even if they don’t buy.

If your offer is teaching something, teach in your promotions. If your service is about offering support, or sparking inspirations, make sure your promotions feel supportive and inspirational.  If your product is intended to promote calm, make sure your promotional materials create that sense of breathing space.

And as tempting as the high energy, time-limited PUSH PUSH PUSH tactics may seem, if the anxiety of those tactics themselves make inspiring, supporting, or calming your clients and customers more difficult, well… not doing them seems a no-brainer, right? Let your promotions be a respite from the Launch Overload going on.

In other (weird) words?
Your marketing needs it’s own marketing.

It needs to be consistent with your brand and your goals not just in color, but in tone, and word, and content.  Whatever your “unique selling proposition” is, whatever makes you different? It should be as woven into every element of your promotion as it is in your products and services.

imageIn a world with stiff competition, we need promotions, ads and mailings that make people WANT to see them. Advertising agencies create TV commercials that are bigger hits, with better production values, than the TV shows they sponsor, ads that are such big hits that people seek them out online, share them with friends, and watch them over, and over. Ads and branding that are so effective people pay to wear the product logos.

That’s what we’re after, ideally.

We want not just our products, but our brand, that whole “us-ness”, the thing that makes us a quirkipreneur…  we want that to go viral – or at least mini-viral.  We want people to want to be associated with us, to want to evangelize, to want to share and promote and be a part of our thing.

It’s more doable than it seems.

We don’t have to create the next Old Spice Guy, or the Nike swoosh, because we don’t have to sell millions of sticks of deodorant or tennis shoes.   But if your promotions themselves amuse, inspire, support and teach, your right people won’t want to hit you in the nose for sharing them – they’ll be more likely to thank you for it.

And if your *promotions* (not just the offers, or products, but the promotion itself) help advance your mission, if they’re true to your voice, if they help your customers before they’ve even bought your product?  They should get better results than loudest, most constant barking you can manage on your own.

Also, you won’t wind up with a sore throat.

A Big Fat P.S.

I’m not a launch expert.  I’m not a marketing expert.  I’m just a struggling, muddled creative with a certain sensitivity to what motivates and demotivates people. The patterns I see in that? They line up with  current marketing trends (Yes, outside of the Internet/Problogging Marketing bubble, thank you!) so I think they’re worth sharing.  But your mileage may vary, and hey, barking loudly works great for some people.

So if you’ve got thoughts on my rambling, or other ideas about how to get heard? (Especially ideas that don’t require reworking an entire holiday promotional strategy in 3 days?) Share, please.  Quirkipreneurs are waiting for your insight!

No, really, they are. They told me so. They’re sitting quietly on their hands in the comment section below.  And they’d love to hear anything you have to say.

Christmas Candy!


  1. Tea Silvestre /

    This came at the perfect time for me, thanks! I’ve got not one, but two different programs I’m trying to launch right now and feeling totally frustrated with all the holiday shopping noise. I love Havi and others like her — it’s a good reminder to stick to my Secret Sauce.

  2. I gotta admit, reading this made me panicky. The idea that I need to create a whole story around my product across posts and newsletters freaks me right out. SO MUCH WORK! Not that I’m opposed to work, mind you – it’s the thought that I would do it all and it wouldn’t matter, or that I’d do it “wrong”. Then all that effort would be for nothing. The first thing that came to mind was “I’m doing everything WRONG! I’m not like Havi or Hugh or Brian! I’m a loooooserrrrr.” Sob. Trying to keep a lid on that, though, and see what I can do about it.

    Interesting sidenote: This makes 7 conversations about marketing in 3 days. Universe is trying to tell me SOMETHING.

  3. Tori Deaux /

    @Tea, I love your secret sauce metaphor – it reminds me that I have my own “family recipes” so to speak, and don’t need 20 new cookbooks to figure out what to cook for dinner. Or a promotion. Or a… something.

    @Ellie! AwesomeZenPossum to the rescue! He says to tell you “First, take ten deep breaths. Next, hang upside down from your tail, and put the panic back in your pouch – it’s not needed here!”

    You aren’t doing anything wrong (except comparing yourself to others. ahem!).

    My point isnt about doing launches “wrong” (launch formulas work) it’s about doing it “increasingly Ellie-like” over time. It’s fine for it to be a slow process – in many ways it has to be a slow process. Developing the concept and brand of something like your “Headology” is going to take time, and subtle course corrections.

    Marketing is as much a creative process as product development… it needs time to breathe, you need time to breathe… no panic required!

    • I do love AwesomeZenPossum. He’s…awesome (dang, was hoping for a better word).

      I know I’m seriously guilty of comparing myself to others, but it’s ridiculously hard not to when I can’t see my self and my biz from the outside. I’m working on it, though, and it’s much better than it used to be (thanks to people like you and Kyeli and Catherine).

      I so want my marketing to ooze “me-ness”, and I hope it does to some extent now. Hard not to stamp my foot when things aren’t the way I imagine then, though. I’m very much one of those Veruca Salt type people, just with self-improvement instead of candy.

      • Tori Deaux /

        That last paragraph, the Veruca Salt one? That totally oozes you-ness 🙂 Wacky humor about your own awkwardness FTW!

  4. I thought your post was good, but I came back later and discovered that the comments were even better! This is brilliant–> AwesomeZenPossum to the rescue! He says to tell you “First, take ten deep breaths. Next, hang upside down from your tail, and put the panic back in your pouch – it’s not needed here!”

    I don’t know where you came up with AwesomeZenPossum but it’s a keeper!

    • Tori Deaux /

      AwesomeZenPossum (like so many things) evolved on Twitter – I’m pretty sure he intends to hang around a while! 😉