Yoga ... A Lesson In Brand Marketing

I've dabbled in my fair share of downward dogs, but getting my butt to yoga is more of an emotional hurdle than a logistical one.

Sound like your brand marketing?  An emotional chore and somewhat inconsistent.

Regardless of whether you prefer Vinyasa Flow or Bikram ... Social Media or Traditional Marketing, here are a few things you can learn from some challenging yet oh-so-simple yoga poses.

Downward Dog: Multi-Tasking at it's best!

Photo Credit: Kerri Kelly

Photo Credit: Kerri Kelly

There is a lot going on with Downward Dog.  You are working on arm strength and lengthening the spine even though you are "resting".

Your marketing is no different.  Whether you intend to or not, everything you do is marketing your business.

    • Every email you send
    • Every post on Facebook
    • Every in-store, online or phone transaction is teaching your clients something about your brand.

Take the time to find the marketing in everyday business tasks.

    • Send a reminder about upcoming promotions with your invoices.
    • Have you checked in with your clients lately?  Instead of just sending an email,  how about sending them a handwritten thank you letter.

But Downward Dog isn't just an active pose, it is also a "resting" pose.  How can you combine some of your marketing activities with your "resting" activities?

    • Friday afternoon and you find yourself surfing the web ...  how about you swap Us Weekly for an industry blog you like to read.
    • Instead of "stalking" ... I mean browsing your Facebook friends, why don't you meander some of you favorite companies to see what they are doing.

Even the simplest things can be productive if done right!

Pigeon: Don't Force It

Photo Credit: Tom Le

Photo Credit: Tom Le

In Pigeon, the harder you push, the less you are able to do and the more likely something will go terribly wrong.

But if you surrender, little by little you will see a huge difference.

The same is true for your marketing efforts.  When you start forcing your marketing it starts to feel pushy ... or desperate.  Either way, people don't like it.

Some examples of how you may be "forcing" your marketing ...

    • Posting a million Facebook updates or blogs in one week.

    • Over emailing your customers with promotions, sales, events, etc.

    • Pushing or upselling a product without actually understanding your client's needs.

Show up a little bit every day and over time you will see a big difference.  

Instead of coming from a place of needing something from your clients, invest in them.  I promise it will come back ten fold.

    • Create a conversation
    • Be a good Samaritan.  Offer to help someone out without wanting something in return.  It is refreshing and unexpected.
    • Say Hi.  Email a client just to check in.  How is her business?  Are you meeting her needs?  What about her personal life?  Get to know something about your clients other than their latest invoice balance.
    • Pay it forward.  If you aren't the right fit for a potential client, recommend someone who is.  Both of them will have good things to say about you.  Talk about good word of mouth marketing!

Crow: Don't Be Afraid To Fall On Your Face

Photo Credit: Pete Guinosso

Photo Credit: Pete Guinosso

The funny thing about Crow is that once you quit being afraid to fail (aka fall flat on your face) you realize it is much easier than you ever thought.

The same is true with your marketing.  Not every idea is gonna be a winner.  That is okay, at least you tried !

You may need to fall down a few times before you find your balance.  

But falling down might be just what you need to realize that you are capable of getting back up to try again.

By pushing your limits while simultaneously surrendering, you can find freedom.  Crow pushes you outside of your comfort zone to accomplish things you never thought possible.  Your marketing should do the same.

    • What crazy idea have you been holding back? 
    • What have you wanted to do with your marketing but have been afraid to try?  Chances are it might not be all that crazy.
    • Push the limits, let go and see what happens.
    • As you continue to try new things, the things that used to scare you will start to feel easy.

Still not so sure you are ready to risk falling on your face?  Check out Suzannah Scully's blog about Overcoming Fear.

Dancer: Don't Compare Yourself to Others

Photo Credit: Kerri Kelly

Photo Credit: Kerri Kelly

Dancer can be an intimidating pose.  It looks so beautiful and I often find myself thinking "There is no way I could do that like she does." Sometimes the same exact thought process is what holds you back in your marketing.

You don't have to do it exactly how everyone else does it, make it unique to you.  

And don't be afraid to modify - both your yoga poses and your marketing.  Use the tools you need to get you where you need to go ...

    • Who do you know that you could ask for help?  Have a friend who you can take to lunch to have them review your sales strategy?  Can you babysit your cousin's kids in exchange for business finance advice?
    • Never underestimate the power of trade.  I am sure you have learned something valuable in your years of doing business.  Can you help someone streamline their sales process in exchange for their legal advice?  When in doubt, find someone who needs your help too.
    • There is power in numbers.  Afraid of hosting an event on your own? Partner with another company who is doing it well or find a friend that is willing to go on the adventure with you.

But how can you quit comparing yourself to everyone else if you don't truly know who YOU are?

Dancer is a balancing pose, which can be frustrating until you find the sweet spot.  To find your sweet spot in yoga you need to know your body, to find your sweet spot in marketing you need to know your brand.

    • You have a unique voice, you just have to use it.    Figure out how you would do it before you start looking for inspiration elsewhere.
    • If you don't know why someone should do business with your company, don't expect them to.  Get to know your company inside and out.  What do you believe in?  What do you stand for?
    • What is one thing you would start to do if you weren't afraid of being different?

Warrior II: Let Go And Be In The Moment

Photo Credit: Pete Guinosso

Photo Credit: Pete Guinosso

Warrior II is like a tug of war (not unlike being a business owner).  You are being pulled equally in two directions, so staying present is crucial. Stay grounded in the present.  Let go of everything else.  Easier said than done!

To stay present you have to let go of the past and quit worrying about the future.

    • What on your to do list can be delegated?  
    • What can be outsourced?  
    • Are your tasks really important or do you just think you are supposed to be doing them?

The strength of Warrior II comes from not over exerting yourself in areas you don't need to. 

Downward Dog may teach us how to multi-task, but Warrior II reminds us that to be effective, you have to be where you are now.

    • Focus - Focus - Focus. Instead of working on your latest marketing strategy while answering emails, fielding phone calls and eating your lunch, focus on one activity at a time.  Set a timer and for the next 30 minutes be present to what you are working on.
    • Make a list.  Sometimes writing down everything you need to do will help clear your head.
    • Be Specific.  Take it one step further and delegate the tasks that you can and give each item a "by when" date.  Hold yourself accountable to the schedule.
    • What are 3 ways you exerting too much energy?  How can you change that immediately?

Remember ... 

    • Find what works for you.  There are as many variations and modifications of a yoga pose as there are areas of marketing.  There is no right answer for everyone.  
    • Tensing your neck or holding your breath won't help your Pigeon just like forcing your marketing won't help your business.
    • Marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.  Be consistent with your effort, trust the process and don’t expect things to happen over night.
    • In yoga, as in marketing, always seek the help of a professional.