It's not about the marketing you’re not doing, it's about what you can be doing

The second edition of our Build Back Better series focuses on empathy led marketing and how, by putting people first and understanding their needs, you can cut through the noise and offer value.

In a world of marketing hype, I wanted to write an anxiety-reducing article about marketing that will help you get excited and inspired, not make you feel bad for not doing enough.

From reading blogs and watching videos about marketing it’s easy to think you’re not doing enough, that you’re not keeping up and that unless you relentlessly post to social media you’re not good enough. 

Most of what I read is frankly just hype, these blogs and videos often paint an unrealistic view of what you NEED to be doing in order to get marketing working. Hundreds of posts, seemingly continuous Stories, Reels and TikTok dances. It’s all bullshit. You don’t need to be doing it.

So what should you be doing?

Influencers rely on vanity

If your job is to show off stuff, places and people, ie. an influencer, then you need to be on social, engaging and building your audience all day every day. It’s a lifestyle choice that can work well for those who can take the pace and stress. For the rest of us, this relentless hamster wheel of posting, liking, tagging and commenting is just not worth the time it takes. Unlike influencers, we don’t need these vanity metrics to attract sponsorship, we need to build an audience of people who like what we do and want to know more.

You have a business to run

You don’t have time to be relentlessly visible like an influencer, you’ve got a business to run. Influencers are selling access to their audience so that’s why they need to spend so much time building and keeping it. 

A lot of ‘advice’ out there focuses on the vanity metrics of followers and likes, they say you need to build a huge audience to get results. In a simplistic way they’re right, the more people you can take your message to, the more chance you have of converting. If you’re selling £30 water bottles or a £97 online course then it’s all about the numbers. For most businesses though, what they’re selling is more expensive and needs a lot more consideration so your audience is just one part of what you need. Of course, there is an element of needing to grow, but it’s not the primary objective. The primary objective is to nurture your audience into becoming customers.

It’s a balancing act

You need to balance the time spent making and posting content with the return you generate. You’re not trying to build a mega audience, as your business model is not attracting brands for sponsorship. For most businesses you only need to nurture a relatively small number of strangers into your highest paying customers for your business to be successful.

Most businesses only need an engaged audience of a few hundred people to make this process work. 

It’s not all about social

A lot of marketing advice focuses on social media and completely ignores email marketing. They’re missing out! For many businesses, the most effective asset they have is their email list. It’s direct access to their prospects' inboxes and attention, something that you don’t get on social. When used well it can be really effective and it’s very low cost. 

If you want to encourage people to join your email list, give them a great reason to subscribe, no one wants your boring newsletter, give them something that really adds value. For example, when you join our email list you get weekly marketing inspiration direct to your inbox.

Don’t mimic, be authentic

If you want to engage your ideal customer then focus on their needs, wants, problems and questions. Make content that helps them learn, understand and think. Show them how you help, how your process works, what goes into doing what you do. Don’t copy dances, memes or photo styles unless you think it’s what your customers want to see. 

You’re making content for them, not for you.

Here are our top three tips when you are making content:

Be authentic – Be yourself and put yourself out there (people will be nice)

Focus on your goal, not vanity metrics – use a marketing funnel to nurture and convert more of your ideal customers

Don’t sell, show up and add value – no one likes a pushy salesperson especially on social, so don’t try and sell just add value

How do I get engagement?

This is one of our most common questions. If you want people to engage with your content you need their attention, and that can be hard, especially with ever-shortening attention spans. One of the most effective ways to do this is to lead with empathy, one of three components that make up an engaging marketing message. 

Combining empathy, authority and story enables you to communicate the problems you solve for your customer in a way that makes them feel seen, heard and understood. You’re not trying to sell, persuade or even influence, you’re showing how you can help them and then inviting them to either signal to you that they’re interested or pass on by if it’s not for them.

I don’t like (insert social platform)

I hear this a lot. I don’t use Facebook/Instagram/TikTok blah blah blah. My customers don’t use blah blah blah. Stop making excuses, your customers are definitely, 100% guaranteed using social media, so if you want more customers you need to get involved.

“I’ve tried social media and it didn’t work” – Unless you have tried posting consistently for 3-6 months then you don’t know for sure. If it didn’t work for you then the problem wasn’t the platform, the app, the algorithm and it certainly wasn’t your customer. It was your content. Give it another go and this time lead your content with empathy.

You can make it work, you’ve just got to consistently show up, be authentic and add value for at least 6 months. Your customers are out there right now waiting to hear from you and they really want to engage with your story and hear all about it. Millions of small businesses post about their business every day and it works, they check in say help show their audience how the process works and how they delight their customers.

Let’s get started

To get started my advice is to focus on one channel and get that working. Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to be on them all at once. If you already use a channel yourself then start there, you already know how that works and what content you like. If you think your customers might be on another then give it a go. 

“If you’re going to go fishing, then go where the fish are”

Plan out three posts to make next week and get started. It doesn’t have to be perfect just start and see where it goes.

If you want to learn more then check out The Marketing Success Club guide on empathy led marketing and join their email list to get weekly marketing inspiration direct to your inbox.

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Startup Details

Startup Details


The Good Business Club

The Good Business Club is an alternative business network fostering collaboration, connection and confidence for small, good business owners and freelancers who want to make a difference, as well as a living.

  • Headquarters Regions
    Brighton, UK
  • Founded Date
    November 2018
  • Founders
    Sara Osterholzer and Ruth Anslow
  • Operating Status
  • Number of Employees
    Three team members and a board of advisors