The interesting part wasn’t coming out about her sexual orientation. Anyone who still cares about that is someone you can definitively do without. (Not counting your parents, that part is still pretty hard.) The interesting part was her coming out about her hatred of long-form squeeze pages, autoresponder sequences and FaceBook.
She was a dutiful student of a high-profile Internet marketing program that fed all of these things to their students. She repeated them like a good girl on her blog, and carefully let her readers know about her progress. She researched her niches and keywords and worked on her backlinks.
Finally, when she was too heartbroken to give a damn, she confessed that all this stuff seemed spammy, pointless and gross.
Aha, now that is interesting.
You’ll never be remarkable dancing to someone else’s song
Our heartbroken young blogger was pretty good at the paint-by-numbers routine. She stood out on the forums, she got herself noticed, she built a little following. She was doing perfectly OK.
But that little jolt of authenticity woke her readers up and made them really pay attention. A lot of them admitted they hate that stuff too. Telling the truth opened up a space for real connection, for real passion. Her little band of followers noticed, and told her so. She’d found something real, and the value in that was palpable.
I don’t know if she’ll take advantage of that opportunity to create a new niche for herself. Maybe she’ll market to the legion of folks who don’t much like hideous squeeze pages and spam tactics. Maybe (hopefully) she’ll use that energy to come up with something really unpredictable. If she’s going to find real success, that’s the right place to look.
Some of the step-by-step Internet marketing programs look a lot like factory work to me. Take part A, connect it to part B like you were shown how to do, repeat until someone gives you new instructions.
Nobody buys it anyway
It’s interesting how hard it is to pull off being something you’re not. No one actually believes that your business is bigger than it is (and anyway, we all know Small is the New Big). No one is willing to read through the pile of verbiage you’re using to describe your leveraged dynamic synergies.
Most of all, no one gives a rat’s ass about the huge investment of energy you spend trying to be like everyone else.
Most of us (maybe not Pema Chodron or the Dalai Lama, but the rest of us) spend most of our time and energy carefully cultivating our masks. And those masks are almost universally a) laughably transparent, and/or b) boring.
It seems simple, and it is, but it’s also hard. Being remarkable means being different. “Different” is not actually all that far from “weird.”
The great thing about the Internet is you can now find all the people in the entire world who are weird in the same way you are. (That’s the only definition you really need for the Long Tail.) It’s your own cheap, portable New York City. Everything is here–and you get to make a connection with the other weirdos who value your precious, unique brand of freakiness.
One of the great cornerstones of marketing (note to self, must add this to the marketing tool kit for my newsletter) is differentiation. You’ll also see it called the unique value proposition or unique selling proposition. You need to find out, and communicate, what makes you unlike all of your customers’ other options. What makes you uniquely valuable. What makes you interesting. What makes you remarkable.
What makes you weird.
It turns out your mom was right. Just be yourself, and someone will love you exactly as you are.
When I was a young adult, it never, ever occurred to me that I might be passionate about business–or, even worse, marketing. I grew up in a solidly lefty household and majored in the hardest liberal arts subject I could find and lived in Berkeley. We just didn’t think about these things. Coming out of the closet for me meant actually acknowledging my interest in (gasp) how corporations work and (gasp) how to convince people to buy things.
Since I finally figured out my own orientation (with a little denial and shame along the way), things have started to come together for me. I’m finding work I think is deeply cool. I’m making connections with smart people I admire. And I can pay the mortgage by doing interesting stuff, which is always very nice.
Just don’t tell my dad. He’s cool about a lot of things, but he’d never understand this one.