Can you imagine anything harder for a business person than marketing with all of the Caribbeanesque rules? How about all of that while being an introvert?
I straddle the world of the extroverted introvert as do many Caribbean people. (Let’s leave how that works for another discussion.) However, I do have quite a few friends in the entrepreneurial space of Caribbean origin who are 100% introvert. Some may be living outside of the region, but they were raised in the ways of Caribbean people and that comes with lots of pluses and some not so good practices as well. A common denominator for them is the struggle to be visible in order to promote their business.
Caribbean children aren’t raised to brag. We come from the place of “Children should be seen and not heard”, “Don’t brag”, and “Who she tink she be?” That means you grow up learning to hold your corner and not shout about the fabulous things you are doing. We can admit that the under 30s have probably broken out of this mold and are more comfortable having their face plastered on a poster or sharing quirky Instagram photos. However, the older ones are still struggling with this.
It isn’t that they don’t understand marketing is important, it is that to do so with your face front and centre goes against everything they have been raised to practice and believe is right. That in turns makes them feel inauthentic and that “Imposter Syndrome” becomes your best friend. Add the natural trait of an introvert and you have Caribbeanpreneurs who are invisible. We really need to change this, as so many have wonderful businesses that can change lives and have amazing stories we should all be celebrating.
You could follow standard marketing advice and make sure you get on as many social media channels as possible but then that just spreads your already limited efforts more thinly. You need to be hip and current enough for Snapchat, cool and professional on LinkedIn and the Round the way Girl or Lad for your Instagram and Facebook. It’s a bit much for anyone, and for those who are uncomfortable being visible consistently, it gets even tougher. Introverts need lots of alone time and one-on-one interactions vs large crowds.
Introverts CAN have success with social media marketing and I want to share some thoughts on this.
There are millions of people posting all over social media but we still don’t know what they do. What do you do? Can you tell me in a blog post? I still prefer reading short posts which give me insight into who a potential client or service provider is than reading an inspirational meme. If I were to Google you what content would I find that speaks to your area of work?
How will I know you’re an expert from your constant reposts and tweets of other people’s words? It is time to share your own.
- Play by your rules. You will notice every other week, the social platforms update and change algorithms in an effort to get us to spend more time on them. It can be very overwhelming to keep up with the constant changes and that will push you further into the shadows. Don’t try to figure out how everything works. You can’t.
- Select the platform which suits your preferred way of work. If you like long form articles and your business fits into the LinkedIn world then use this space as the primary way you share your story. There are other places like Medium, or writing for your local newspaper which can help you build your audience. These mediums are also great if you enjoy writing pieces filled with lots of research that you refine to support your story. If you have a knack for photography, combine your thoughts with a great photo and share on your website or on a social platform of your choice.
- What’s your hook? A good songwriter will tell you that every song needs a hook. A central focus that the listener can connect with and join in the singing. The soca classic by Arrow of Montserrat, Hot, Hot, Hot comes to mind. Did you know at one point they considered calling it a Fundamental Jam? There’s a line in the first verse that says “We need a party song, a fundamental jam.” I love that line but no way does it have the same impact as when you hear an audience of thousands going “feeling hot, hot, hot.” I digress, but what is your hook? What is going to make me come back week after week to read your work. Someone who has done this remarkably well is James Clear. (I still aim to get this clear about my own hook.) James writes on habits, plain and simple. It may be habits in fitness or business but the core of what he shares are stories about how having the discipline of habits improves your success. Get clear about the story you want to tell and tell it over and over again.
- It is not bragging if you have the solution to the problem I am willing to pay for,believes Marketing Trainer, Troy Holder of Barbados. His words of wisdom to introverts is simply this: “Being loud and upfront does not equal effective communication like so many extroverts believe.” You can build your clientele and audience around your words. Offer us a new way of solving a recurring problem through your stories. How are you answering the questions that turned what you do into a business?
- Don’t be afraid to share. A fear that many Caribbeanpreneurs have, is the belief that if they tell you how they did it, someone will steal their idea and business. Someone could try to steal your idea but they can never replicate you or your unique way of making each customer feel like the most valuable one you have. It is important to add your knowledge to the space. People will still pay you to deliver the solutions you provide.
- Build your body of work. Don’t expect your first or even your tenth blog post to go viral. That should not be your goal at all. Focus on building the body of work that defines who you are as a service provider. It really does not matter the industry you are in. What exists in the digital space that confirms who you are as a business person? When you focus on building your body of work and speaking in your voice, you are in your zone.
For everyone including introverts, becoming better at marketing and storytelling is a work in progress. You will not gain customers by remaining invisible and you cannot improve your body of work if you are not consistent.
Nerissa Golden is a strategist and author, who helps companies leverage traditional and digital media to grow their business with storytelling.