There is sometimes a negative stigma that surrounds the notion of self-promotion. Self-promoters are sometimes perceived to be self-righteous, self-obsessed narcissists, who have little regards for others.
And as a female who tends to be intuitively wired towards self-doubt, self-consciousness and altruism, the notion of self-promotion is sometimes a little hard to get my head around.
Throw in a country that doesn’t mind slashing down a tall poppy and it’s no wonder that we can sometimes struggle to confidently plug ourselves out there in the arena.
“You hold back only to realise that there’s nothing keeping you back except yourself.”
Last year, I self-published my first book; How to Do Marketing – A Comprehensive Guide for Small Business.
When people ask me about the book, they are curious about how long it took me to write, or how I knew how to structure the content, how did I know where to start etc.
As a marketer, I have written headlines, articles, marketing and advertising copy and other communications for years. When it came to writing a book, it was not the writing that was the stumbling block.
The biggest hurdle I had to overcome to back myself and publish my first book was to overcome the imposter syndrome that raged away inside my head, demanding to know exactly who I thought I was writing a book about marketing.
“There’s already so many marketing books and so many small business books for businesses to choose from, why on earth would the world need a book written by you?” I self-interrogated.
Having consumed so much literature (blog articles, books, podcasts and social media posts) about the importance of backing yourself I edged into the publishing process tentatively.
“Well, if it can be thought, it can be done, a problem can be overcome,”
I started to prioritise publishing regular, helpful content about marketing out from my own website and social media channels. After about 12 months of succeeding at this and gaining positive feedback, I felt safe enough to dip my foot a little further into the notion of ‘getting myself out there’.
I started to contribute to industry news websites. I measured the results of these articles meticulously. How many people were engaging with them? How were they faring compared to other bloggers on the site that were in the same industry as me? To my relief and content, they were faring well.
Over the couple of years it took me to convince myself that I could add value to people’s lives and businesses with a book about marketing, I became aware of a much greater mind shift happening internally.
I had turned forty and I started to realise that I had been working in the field of sales and marketing for twenty years. I had a degree in marketing and because I am an addict to professional development, I have invested thousands of dollars into industry courses and conferences to further hone my skills. As the theory of 10,000 hours outlined in Malcolm Gladwell’s book; The Outliers, started to permeate within me, I began to sit up a little bit straighter.
Also coinciding with these years of emerging confidence, I had become much better at choosing clients where my marketing could really smack home some truly successful outcomes. The marketing we were doing was increasing revenue, breaking attendance records, building brands and resulting in some seriously happy business owners.
Not content with just taking their word for it, I continued on my mission to ‘prove’ that I knew what I was doing when it came to marketing, by entering industry awards. To my absolute shock, the first time I entered my industry marketing awards, I won the national award for ‘Small Budget Marketing’.
I entered again the following year. This time I walked away with the ‘Small Budget Marketing’ award for the state of New South Wales.
“See world”, I cried, “I’m not an imposter. If I was an imposter, I couldn’t have won those awards.”
Of course, it wasn’t the world that needed to hear those words, it was me.
When it came to sharing the success of my first award win out via my social media & email channels, I was torn. The extrovert within me wanted to shout these wins from the rooftops. But the self-conscious me was really paranoid about appearing too narcissistic.
I reassured myself, that this was something that was important for prospective clients to know about, so I shoved my self-doubt aside and embraced my win. The whole time I was writing my emails and posts about my win, I cringed a little as I pictured people seeing these posts and rolling their eyes, oh here she is again, posting about herself – again.
“Always remember, you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”
To my surprise, my ‘communities’ were effusive in their congratulations and support. So I wrote a little mental note to self; it’s OK to self-promote your own wins.
So with my confidence a little stronger, I decided I was ready to write the book.
As mentioned before, writing the book was the easy part. I love writing and I love marketing, so this process was joyous for my soul.
While I wrote, there was this really dull niggling feeling that would raise its head every now and again as I worried if people would criticise my thoughts and insights. So if there were any chapters that I was unsure about, I would write them as a blog post and share them out to my communities as a test. If people liked and engaged with the content, then I had more confidence to include it.
Even though I had now had several successful marketing results under my belt and a few industry awards to boot, I still felt that I needed to prove that my book was worthy of reading.
So to help prove that I was a credible information source, I approached several successful business people who held credible profiles to endorse my book. These were business people that I had admired for so many years. I had followed their careers with great interest and had paid extra special attention to how they had built their profile. It seemed effortless for them.
Of course, I knew that it wasn’t. While they may not have had to employ the tactics of self-promotion (or maybe they had?), these business people were renowned because of the successes they had achieved in their career and business. And we all know that success in business comes from a lot of effort!
Included within these selected potential endorsees were Global CEO of Business Chicks, Emma Isaacs and Demographer, Bernard Salt AM. I sought these endorsements while the book was still in edit mode, as I wanted to use their testimonies to promote the book.
When Emma’s endorsement of the book came back I squealed with delight. It meant the world to me.
When Bernard’s email came back, I burst into tears. Not only had he included a quote to be used for the front cover, but he had provided a full 400 word ‘forward’ to be used in the book.
Perhaps my book was worthy.
This was exactly the external validation that I craved to help quash my self-doubt. The fact that it came before I had hit the print button was the ammunition I needed to proceed with confidence.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones that you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sail.”
My book launched nine months ago and I am so proud of it. I know from the bottom of my heart that it is good and useful and worthy and every day I work to self-promote it.
On Tuesday 28 April, I am launching The How to do Marketing Show – a podcast that I have dreamt about for over a year, and just had the courage (and the time – thanks COVID) to compile.
I know that because I stand for something, I have opinions and insights within my work that some people will disagree with and that’s OK. And while I suspect my imposter syndrome will always occasionally raise its head, I know now that I’ll have the strength to look it straight in the eye and tell it that actually, I’m not an imposter at all.