“Let me guess, you went into business because you love what you do, right?”

I don’t often get to freely talk “shop” with my sports parents – but tonight presented a great opportunity to help someone see they were thinking too hard and making marketing way harder than it had to be. 

Sometimes my favorite part of being a sports mom is what I call “social listening”. When you’re not quite in the conversations, but everyone is talking openly and loud enough it feels like an invitation to jump in.  Most of the time it’s the usual topics of homework, upcoming weekend plans, “what’s for dinner?” the average small talk. But tonight I had an opportunity to showcase something I do every day and really help someone who felt lost. 

I overheard a conversation between a few lacrosse dads tonight talking about gun safety training and self-defense training classes.  We’ll call this dad, John. John is a veteran and retired police officer, who recently started his own business – a local firearms training program, and he’s telling the other dads about the recent graduates and some of the father-son group classes he’s taught. The other dads are eating out of John’s hands as he continues to tell story after story, and joking about the kick from some of the higher-caliber firearms. 

As he kept talking, he mentioned he was on Instagram and trying to be visible, but he’s still trying to learn how to use all the programs, all the hashtags, and how to tag people. He shook his head and the light left his eyes and frustration started to set in. 

Everyone tells you social media is the place to be and it’s easy – but not if you are brand new and don’t know how to weld it.

I saw my moment to jump into the conversation and said “Let me guess you went into business because you love what you do and saw a need in the market right?” He said, “Exactly! Not to be a marketer”. 

I could see that look in his eyes and recognized it instantly because it’s the same look I’ve seen from every client, small business owner, manager, and person trying to promote themselves. Marketing isn’t hard if you remember what you are trying to accomplish.

If you want to help people, the best way to do that is to make people aware that you exist. Who cares if it’s a video, post, blog, TikTok, or a flyer? Get comfortable talking about your business, asking for referrals, and making offers. 

I told him I was listening in on his conversation and there was so much passion shining inside of him while he was talking to these dads about his company. The other dads were clapping and nodding their heads in agreement, asking questions, talking about their experiences with firearms. I told him, “Listen, after practice wraps up, hold your phone up and start a video on your phone about the conversation you just had with these dads. Talk about it and the questions they had. That’s all social media is – it’s recapping the life that’s happening all around us“.

As we continued to talk, I continued to pour out ideas. He can offer to talk to his son’s school for a special assembly about being safe and not touching weapons, diffusing situations, etc. There are a million ways that could go. By showing up for his son’s school, word will naturally spread. He can print a take-home “sample conversation” for the kids to talk with their parents. Don’t you think a few parents would be grateful and want to say thanks or be interested in his training? Of course, the odds are in his favor.

What if there’s a consistent set of conversations he’s having over and over and over again? Could those be quick online courses that he can offer to prequalify people before they come to a hands-on class?

John looked at me like I was a unicorn and he was making mental notes. Then he turned and engulfed me in a big hug and said “You have a real gift for understanding and spit-balling conversations into gold”. Then he kept telling me he would love to pay for my time, but I wasn’t there for the money. Our sons have practice three nights a week so we’re all standing there anyway – but it was great having a different conversation beyond dinner and homework.

I then told him what it was like trying to build my business. When I was focused on money and where my next client would come from, it was all I could see… who would pay me next, and how much would I charge. But, the second I stopped caring and gave it to God – and started having more genuine conversations, things clicked.

I didn’t need to hunt for clients anymore, word of mouth spread. I’ve been blessed to grow with long-term clients and a slow and steady growth rate. It’s allowed me to make mistakes, hone my craft, figure out new problems, and ultimately learn that the more I give, the more that comes back to me. I now invest $10-$15k per year in learning and conferences. I freely give advice because someone else genuinely needs it. I don’t want to withhold my knowledge and put a price on it. I want people to have every tool sharpened and ready to go and then if they need consistent help or want me to do it for them, then I can talk price.

Marketing is simply just having conversations with people and talking so much that you are tired of hearing your own voice.

Look for openings in the conversation to contribute and help the other person solve their problem. When you can do that – you’ve successfully marketed your business and most likely closed a deal. If not with the person you are talking to, then with a future connection this person will introduce you too.