This is one of those principles that I wish I'd learned early on in my creative career. It would have saved me over a decade of grief trying to figure out "how to do marketing", and I can't even begin to imagine where I'd be now.
But, as with every principle that you learn, rather than be frustrated that you didn't learn it sooner, it's better to be grateful that you're learning it now.
Here's the big idea:
The goal of your marketing is not to push people to a sale as quickly as possible. It's to create tension that pulls people in that want to be pulled in.
I want to share an experience I had purchasing something big, and see if you've had a similar experience.
There was a time a few years ago that I was so frustrated that I hadn't yet "figured things out". I felt like I was doing everything right but still not getting the results I wanted in my business and my life.
So, I went searching for an answer, a solution.
My "current reality" at the time was frustration, despair, and desperation. I desperately needed to change the reality I was living.
I knew I had found the solution when the person I was talking to started describing my current reality even better than I could and then uncovered a world on the other side that I had only hoped existed.
One where I had all of the control and freedom and independence that I wanted. It was crazy to see that all this time this other world existed, I just didn't know how or where to look for it.
It was a massive perspective shift. I went from believing the world was one way to realizing that I only saw a small part of what was possible.
Now, given that situation, how easy is it for me to purchase the solution?
I didn't hesitate at all, because it was exactly what I was looking for.
That's what you want to do with your marketing.
When people discover you, you want them to have the feeling of "where has this been all my life?!"
At that moment, you've created tension.
There is now a gap between where they are and where they want to be, and that tension needs to be released.
That tension pulls people into your world, rather than the alternative of pushing people to a sales conversation as quickly as possible.
Pull, not push.
On my desk, I keep a spring from a trampoline we had in our backyard that wore out. (We do have three boys and they're out there nearly every day).
I wanted some daily reminder of the importance of creating tension in everything that I write and all of the content that I put out into the world.
Through your marketing, the best way that I've found to bring people into your world is to create tension.
It's not about having a "hooky" headline, or great copy on a landing page, or a perfectly optimized funnel.
At this stage, you don't want to think of funnels. You want to think of tension.
Creating tension can be as simple as sharing results that you've helped your customers and clients receive.
Testimonials, results, outcomes - these are all easy to share with the world in a way that creates the tension of I want those results too! for the right people.
Teasers are another form of tension.
Sharing a snippet of a song, a work in progress of a project, or a chapter from an upcoming book will create the tension of I want more of this! in your audience.
There's a reason why every movie on the planet creates teasers and trailers. The whole intent is to create tension. Before seeing the trailer, you didn't know the movie existed, or what it was about, or who was in it.
But once you watch the trailer - if they did a proper job - you now have to resolve that tension by seeing the movie.
Build In Public To Create Tension
One of the best things you can do as a creator is to "build in public".
What this means is sharing the process of you doing and creating your work with an audience of interested people, many of whom might become clients if you create tension.
This book is a form of building in public because I'm writing in public. I'm sharing the chapters as I write them, and it's creating tension in the readers to want to read the next chapter.
Once the book is done, since every chapter published here on the website is just a first draft, imagine what the edited draft will be like!
That tension is being created with each new chapter and building up interest in purchasing the book and implementing everything shared in its pages.
Photographers can share sneak previews from their phone of a shoot that they did that they'll publish on the blog to Instagram. Those interested in seeing more - resolving the tension of the teaser - will go visit the blog and subscribe.
Musicians can share music videos on YouTube that tease a new album, or even do a live stream of a work in progress, and direct people to follow them if they want to hear the full song when it's recorded.
There are platforms for every type of creator - Medium or blogs for writers, Instagram for artists and photographers, Behance for designers and creators, IndieHackers for makers and developers, and the list goes on.
Sharing your process with a community of people helps you grow your audience by creating tension.
The thing to remember is that it's not just about posting randomly. It's about consciously creating tension by creating a gap between people's current reality and the desired reality where they have the thing that you make or have the outcome that you promise through your services.
Being active on social media isn't marketing.
Marketing is the process of pulling people into your world by helping them relieve the tension that you've created.