On Wednesday I met with Andy at The Bakery on the Common in the center of town.  Andy is a lawyer who has been consulting for four years and who was referred to me by two mutual contacts.

Over coffee (for him) and tea (for me), we had an animated conversation.  We talked about our kids.  We discovered that we both like Montreal.  We shared our experiences as solo professionals.

And then as the conversation turned to marketing, Andy’s energy level dropped momentarily.  He slumped a little in his chair.  He lowered his voice.

And I knew what was coming.

In a sheepish tone he confessed that he was on Twitter, but hadn’t tweeted much.   He wasn’t on Facebook.  And he knew there was much more marketing that he should be doing, but hadn’t.

Clients tell me this all the time.  They are overwhelmed by the number of marketing media options.  They bow their heads as if they’ve been negligent and express in a confessional tone of voice that they just haven’t gotten to all the marketing activities that they should be doing.

In short, when it comes to marketing, there is an epidemic of the shoulds.

As Carrie Bradshaw from the series Sex in the City asks, “Why are we shoulding all over ourselves?”

Shoulds arise when you feel subject to a perceived set of rules or expectations.

Shoulds are a calling card for guilt.  They drain your energy.  They distract you.  Their weight can paralyze you.

Shoulds are a time sink.

I join Seth Godin and urge you to “Find your should and make it go away.”

When it comes to marketing, like anything else, you can’t do absolutely everything nor should you.  If your marketing thoughts are peppered with shoulds, here’s how to get rid of them:  take a lesson from my 14-year-old son AJ.

AJ is on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.


Because that’s where his friends are and where he can find much of the information that interests him.

Does he spend time fretting over his lack of a LinkedIn profile?  Or of a Pinterest presence?

No.  Those media are not relevant to who he is now and what he wants to accomplish.

The lesson isn’t that you should (there’s that word again) necessarily be on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.

The lesson is that good marketing involves going where your customers and prospects are and where they seek information on what you offer.

To optimize your marketing efforts, you need to focus on the media that your prospects and customers use.

To find out what they use:

  1. Ask.  Via survey or conversation, ask key customers how they found you.  Did they search online?  Do they use LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook?  Do they read the local paper?  Online or in print?  Where do they go to get information on what you offer?
  2. Look them up.  Make a list of your key customers and prospects.  Google them.  The major social media players do a great job of appearing high on search lists so you can find people on their platforms easily.  You can also search for key contacts within each social media platform.  Note where they have accounts.
  3. Gauge their level of activity.   Go to their accounts if possible and see how active they are.  Do they post often?   How many friends/followers/connections do they have?  You are looking for places where your audience has a high level of engagement.

Doing the above research means the end of guessing where you should market your wares and the beginning of knowing.

And once you know the best places to be marketing, you can let go of the guilt of not marketing elsewhere.

Forgive yourself right now for what you haven’t done in the past and shed the guilt.

Find out where your customers and prospects spend time looking for what you offer and market there.

And rid yourself of the marketing shoulds forever.

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