Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Promote Your Friends' Shit

I haven't made a real New Year's resolution for a few years, but I do try, each year to be a... little bit better about something. Last year I decided I was going to try to be a little more outwardly positive (how'd I do?). This year, I have one big commitment I've decided to undertake:

I'm going to help promote my friends' shit.

So first things first: I'm friends with a lot of creative people. Painters, improvisors, small business owners, musicians, podcasters, people who make boardgames, etc. All of these people do things that require promotion or marketing. I think most creative people feel a little gross about marketing what they do. They want people to appreciate and hopefully pay for what they do, but going on Facebook and posting about their stuff feels gross, or putting up posters with a picture of your face on it can feel selfish, but they do it anyway, because they have a passion for a thing. Also, creative people want to create. They don't want to familiarize themselves with Facebook Power Editor best practices.

In addition to that, lots of creative people aren't really good at marketing. They didn't study marketing. They don't work in marketing. Marketing their thing almost feels like trying to speak a language they've only heard about on TV.

So marketing feels selfish and foreign for individuals. Keep that in mind the next time you feel annoyed that your Facebook feed is filled with posts asking you to come to an improv show. Try not to dismiss those posts indifferently. I know that's hard because you're inundated with them.

This is why creative people need help promoting their shit. They need my help, and they need your help. When you promote your friend's thing, you're helping them struggle with that weird marketing language they don't speak. You probably don't speak it either, but now there are two of you trying to communicate, upping your chances of success. You're doing something selfless for them, and so that also takes the burden off of them for feeling weird about their own selfishness.

And this is important: helping your friends promote their shit can make a real positive impact in their lives.

Here's a story:

I have a friend (who will remain nameless) who is married with a very young kid. My friend manages a store. A few weeks ago, my friends' wife posted a message to Facebook that basically said:

"Nameless never asks for anything, and never promotes anything he does. Well this month he's trying to hit a very ambitious sales goal at his store, so please if you could, go to his store and spend a little money."

Chelsea and I, seeing this message, went to the store, bought some stuff, and talked to Nameless. We asked him about the sales goal and he said "Well, if we do $X in sales this month, I get a bonus and we can afford a higher tier of daycare which means I don't have to work Sundays and I get that day back with my family."

I immediately went home and used every social media channel at my disposal to try to get people into my friend's store. Because I realized that promoting his shit would have a real, positive effect on his life, and his family's life. Going in person to a friend's show, or buying their product is essential too, but we need to be champions for the cool things our friends make.

So if I retweet the post you wrote about your podcast, or share your Facebook event, or email some friends about your art show, that's why. Because I know first-hand how difficult and awkward and gross marketing  and promotion feel. That's what I'm doing this year. We are all in this together, and when we help each other, we can help affect real, positive change in the lives of the people we care about.