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What we can learn about marketing from local wildlife

A teacup and saucer act as a bird feeder filled with seed on a sunny day

I was recently gifted a bunch of bird feeders for my somewhat “wild” garden. Now, I can hear you asking, “what the f&*k does a bird feeder have to do with marketing my business, Lea?” Don’t worry, this wildlife themed story is going to shed some light on why you’re feeling some not so good feelings about your business right now. Besides, marketing is a pretty dry subject and we’re more into storytelling, aren’t we? So, let’s begin…

As soon as I received this gift, I set about choosing where to install these feeders, filling them up with tasty goodness and hanging them out ready for a flurry of birds at my newly installed buffet. Then I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

What’s going on? Why aren’t the birds flocking to the delicious new restaurant in town? I know none of my neighbours have feeders up and it’s breeding season so surely, they need additional sustenance? Is the food not good? Is there something wrong with my garden? WHY DO THEY HATE ME?!

Like a kid waiting for Father Christmas, I fixated on the window, desperate to catch a glimpse of an avian visitor. A LIFETIME later (3 days), I finally spotted a robin snatching a furtive mouthful from one of the feeders (a teacup glued to a saucer to make a pretty upcycled addition to the group, in case you were wondering; don’t worry we’ll come back to that). FINALLY. Well, there’ll be a rush now, all the other birds will see and come flocking to the buffet.

Another lifetime later (another 3 days), the robin has been a frequent and loyal visitor. He’s assessed the grub to be good and the garden to be cat free – and he’s confident in our offering. And now, there’s a new bird on the feeder. Yup, there’s a Tit in this story gang 😉

Now, if you’re still confused about what the heck some teacups and Tits have to do with telling your brand story, let me bring this analogy together for you. You see, it occurred to me that putting out bird feeders and waiting for them to be found is a lot like creating a service/website/amazing piece of content for your clients; and the sheer frustration and emotional vulnerability that comes with that.

I’m sure you can identify with the rollercoaster that is launching a website and then sitting on analytics waiting for the numbers to start ticking up; “YES” you’ll say, “people want what I’m offering”. Or perhaps you can’t yet identify with this because you’ve been holding back, reluctant to strap in for that particular ride because “hey now, those things are unsafe, have you seen how many accidents take place on them each year?” I feel you, it’s incredibly uncomfortable being a female business owner sometimes; leading from the heart puts you in such a vulnerable place.

I offer support to heart-led business owners like you; from blog and newsletter writing, to giving your website a refresh (or creating from scratch), if you’re stuck for words in telling your business story, check out these packages.

Here are some key points I want you to take away about telling your story and how it’s a lot like putting out bird feeders

  1. Honestly, putting out a bird feeder or website and expecting people to flock to it straight away is kind of unreasonable. Patience truly is a virtue – and being a heart-led entrepreneur will always be a test of yours. Yes, you are excited, and you’ve poured a lot of love into it, but do they even know it exists?
  2. It’s not all about you. Whilst the work you do is a labour of love and can feel incredibly personal, you’re not for everyone and everyone is not for you.
  3. As I’m reliably informed, Robins like having something to stand on whilst they’re munching – the snack and hover thing isn’t their style. So, having the teacup and saucer feeder is perfect for enticing Robins into the garden. Is what you’ve created of use to your ideal clients and was it made with them in mind?
  4. There’s still nothing like word of mouth for spreading a message. It is entirely possible for you to have a successful (whatever that means to you) business without using social media or even having a website. If you’re really effective at meeting people in person, communicating your value and getting them onboard; then it’s totally ok to focus your energy there. For the record, every single one of my storytelling clients has come to me via word of mouth; they’ve all been my ideal clients and we’re super aligned. That won’t always be the case, but you get my point.

Without overly anthropomorphising, I like the thought that the first Robin went and told his friends, and they told their friends and soon enough I’ll have that flock in my garden like I hoped. Of course, it’s much more likely that the first Robin merely demonstrated to other birds that it was safe and tasty and helped build their confidence. Either way, word of mouth is a winner.

  1. Everything is connected and the work we do is always part of a larger whole. You might be concerned, especially with the state of the world today, about putting something out into the world and benefitting from it. I see your ethical conundrum. It’s entirely ok to put things out into the world for the pure joy and love of it, if that’s what feels good to you. But you don’t HAVE to. Is it cynical of me to be putting out bird feeders because I want to see the birds eating from MY feeders in MY garden? Possibly, a little, but playing a part in the bigger picture is essential to me; giving those wild birds extra sustenance during breeding season does bring me joy AND it supports the wider environment. It’s a circle of abundance.

If you’re feeling the frustration of putting something out into the world that feels like it isn’t getting the attention it deserves or you’re holding back because of the vulnerability, run through this checklist and make adjustments:

  • Is your expectation reasonable?
  • Do people (or birds) even know it exists?
  • Have you made sure that the “environment” is right? We’re talking about putting out things that the people you are here to serve actually NEED here.
  • Are you making the most of word of mouth? Talking to people you already know might boost your confidence and be a natural way of you growing your client base.
  • What is your true motivation? More than likely, if you’re here, your main motivation is to help people in the world. You can only do that if you take care of yourself and people know about what you’re doing.

There you have it, a story about bird feeders and how it relates to how you tell your business story. Even if your garden/marketing seems like a wild mess and you don’t know where to begin with it, there are always joyful morsels to be found. I’m here to support heart-led business women like you in uncovering – and sharing – your story, your way.

I’ve created a FREE workbook with journaling prompts to get you started and I think you’ll find it incredibly useful – sign up here to get your copy

(Disclaimer: workbook includes no wildlife references but newsletters may, on occasion 😊)

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