Over the last three years of working in the marketing trenches, I’ve come across countless reasons why people’s marketing efforts are ineffective. Often, these efforts, which require monumental energy, have, at the center, the right intention – but are in some ways misguided. I came to this conclusion after attending a salsa dancing social where I learned some important lessons about dancing salsa but also about marketing.
Here’s what I learned:
When you market, you are entering a conversation – and if you don’t listen, no one will talk to you.
As a follower in salsa (typically the female), your role is to listen and observe attentively for the direction that the leader (typically the male) will spin or move you. If you miss a spin, or go in the opposite direction, it essentially means that you weren’t listening closely to what was being said. In the salsa case, the language is dance and body movement; in marketing, it’s your branding and messaging and everything you push out into the world.
Sometimes we’re so busy showing off how great our company is in our outgoing messages (social media, blog posts, content, ads, etc.) that we forget that it’s not about us. We are constantly talking about ourselves and forgetting to listen to the customers’ wants and needs and how we can service them.
Worse yet, we are the most deaf to our existing customers – we assume that our products are great for them without having a consistent feedback or a review process for how well we’re performing for them. We gain customer appreciation and awareness when we tune in and listen to avoid missing the signs of unfulfilled client and prospect needs.
Trust is still the foundation of every relationship, including professional ones.
In salsa, there is an implicit trust when you accept someone’s proposal to dance with you. As the follower, you trust that the leader will not allow you to bump into anyone else, spin you out of control, or drop you at any moment. The leader assumes the responsibility of guiding, of being aware of the surrounding elements and seeing things coming before get there; they have the creative lead, and, more importantly, the responsibility of protecting you and making sure that you look good and don’t get hurt in the process.
Similarly, in marketing, for clients to follow your lead and expertise, you have to prove to them that you have their best interests in mind. Your end goal should be, in the words of Dharmesh Shah from HubSpot, “To make the people that believe in you look brilliant.” It takes time and consistency to build a great relationship, and you build trust by consistently doing what you said you’d do. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open to ensure that you’re always on the same page and to stick to your commitment to continue sponsoring positive relationships.
In the case of prospects, trust is something you have to build and earn over time. However, beginning the journey by being as transparent as possible and communicating clearly and honestly is a good place to start.
The key is to pay attention to how much you’re trusted. Keep an internal review process for this with clients, potential customers, and even employees if you are in a position of leadership. Any signs of a lack of trust indicate the need for a change and, if unaddressed, can lead to serious problems in the future. In salsa, for example, a couple that dances without the follower trusting the leader is often involved in mishaps where they get lost, clash, fall, or bump into other people. AVOID this catastrophe in your business.
Live in the present but don’t lose sight of the future.
One of the things I love most about salsa is that it forces me to live in the moment and slow down to focus on the present experience. However, as I dance, I also have to anticipate and prep for what comes next based on the subtle signs of the leader. If the leader raises his hand close to my forehead, it’s an indication that a turn is coming, and I cannot simply turn whenever I want – I have to wait for the right moment to act on the sign I was given.
Too often in marketing we see signs early on that indicate trouble, but we don’t pay attention to them or prep in advance. One of the most glaring ways in which I have seen this is with clients who are really busy and have a lot of business. They see that their pipeline is drying out 6 months down the line, but they pay no attention to their marketing, except as an afterthought. The signs of trouble are there early on, but instead of prepping for the turn, they keep doing the basic steps and are unpleasantly surprised when the turn comes and they miss it.
Life lessons are marketing lessons.
Ultimately, the main message is this: salsa and marketing are a lot alike! But why does that matter? It matters because too often there are simple life lessons we’ve learned through doing mundane things but that we never consider incorporating into our marketing learning. Marketing is about connection – not only to potential customers and clients but the connection of threads in your life and your company that weave a bigger picture. Whatever your industry or area of expertise, you should be bringing to the table the uniqueness of your own life experience.
If you’re a carpenter, there are lessons you’ve learned about woodwork that apply to marketing. If you’re a plumber, HVAC installer, interior designer, salon owner, or restaurant manager, there have been experiences in your industry and in your life with lessons that can inform your marketing decisions and help you serve a unique and authentic brand.
Don’t lose sight of that and remember that there’s someone in the world looking for exactly what YOU have to offer. Not your services, not your company, not your brand, but YOU, your experiences, personality, thoughts, and unique perspectives. Connect the story of your life and who you are to your brand, and you will without a doubt achieve marketing success.Are you waiting for the hand to your forehead to show you where and when to turn? Contact us – we’re great salsa dancers, and we’re pretty good at marketing, too.