Before reading this post, if you don't know what digital minimalism is, I highly recommend you check out my blog post called What Is Digital Minimalism before reading on!
In this blog post I want to follow on from that to ask the question: digital minimalism and running a business, can you really have both? Towards the end of the post I’ll also be writing about how I used digital minimalism in my marketing strategy to allow me to work a much-reduced schedule over the summer, so be sure to read to the end.
Working in marketing means you are literally here to encourage people to take a certain action, whether that’s to buy your product or service, or to buy into you or your idea or method - whatever it is, that is the point of marketing. There are multiple ways to do that, you may be trying to build a connection with your audience, share your knowledge etc but whatever it is, the end goal is still that you are trying to encourage someone to take a certain action.
But what I’ve seen over the years in social media or online in general, is a move away from encouraging someone to take action either by informing them of their options or by getting them to know you, like you and trust you, to simply….promises. And this is really problematic in the service industry because we can’t promise anything. Inform, teach, develop, yes. Promise, no definitely not.
Can I promise you that by working with me you’ll go viral and explode on social media? No, I can’t. That’s not to say I’m not good at what I do or confident in the results I can get you. It’s because it’s my job to teach you, to develop your skills, and to give you a roadmap and guidance to implement those skills and that knowledge. There is no room for promises in that because it depends on a lot of things happening.
But this is what I’m seeing, specifically in the service-based industry. I’m seeing marketing morph into “Do this and you will get this exact result”. “Join my mastermind and you will become a 7 figure CEO”. I have that one answer. Follow me and this method and you could do what I do. It all seems so simple, doesn’t it?
But it’s not that simple. Business, marketing, social media strategy, there isn’t one way to do things, not when we all have different skills, resources, priorities, and so on.
I know it’s not as catchy to say do this plus this plus this and for this amount of time and you will see results. But that’s the truth. Getting real results is about taking certain action that leans on your skills and resources in certain ways for a certain amount of time. It’s unique to every individual, every business, it depends on your goals, your priorities, your time, your strengths, the list goes on.
But people don’t want caveats in their investments. They want clear-cut answers and formulas for success. I get that that's safer, more attractive. But unfortunately, anyone selling that cannot make you a promise of success. Caveats absolutely need to be there if you want to run a transparent, honest, and ethical business, and also a successful business.
And so this is the kind of thing I try to stay away from. I think it’s unethical at worse, and unrealistic at best.
So with that lengthy disclaimer, here is what I am going to say about digital minimalism and running an online business. Can you have both - absolutely. But there are but’s. I can’t say you can have a marketing strategy for your business that uses the philosophy of digital minimalism without taking certain actions first, and sustaining those actions.
Here’s the first bit of action to take if you want to market your business using the principles of digital minimalism...
You have to redefine or realign your version of success. This is something I talk about a lot on my platforms and it’s the first bit of work I do with clients.
Before clients even work with me, they fill out a questionnaire with questions like “what does success look like to you?”, “what does success feel like to you?”.
This isn’t goal-setting. A goal would be I want to have x amount of clients at this rate by this time.
Your definition of success is what do you want your life to look like, and how is your business going to help you achieve that or support that.
Digital minimalism is all about using technology to support the things you value. So in business terms, using technology to achieve or support your business goals, which in turn helps you achieve or support your version of success.
The important bit is to align the three: your social media goals, your business goals and your definition of success.
Here is an example.
Your definition of success may be the ensure you’re present at bath time every night with the kids, or make that 5 pm yoga class during the week, or take a month off every summer.
Your business goal may be to have a business model that allows you to work that amount of time, or to achieve x amount in revenue that allows you to pay for those yoga classes.
These align. But your social media goal may be brand awareness so you’ve decided to commit to a Youtube video every week, 3 reels a week, and showing up on Instagram stories every single day.
And when you break that down into how many hours this type of content is going to take you to create each week, you realise that you are only able to hit those social media goals if you skip that yoga class and do a few more hours of work.
This is what I see often from business owners is goals that are completely separate and out of alignment with their definition of success.
So here is your invitation to pause and think about what your definition of success is. Not what you see on Instagram or what other people class as success, but what you feel success is to you. It may be financial freedom, it may be time freedom, it may be flexibility or work-life balance. It may be more detailed than all of those. What does it look like to you?
Now, look at your business goals. How do they help you achieve that definition of success or how do they support that - so for those of you that haven’t managed to reach your definition of success, you’re looking at business goals that are going to help you achieve that, and for those of you have that managed to reach that definition of success, you’re looking for business goals that support and maintain that success.
Digital Minimalism is here to enhance what you value in life. So get clear on what you value, and this will help you maintain the philosophy of digital minimalism in your business.
When you know what you value in life, you’ll find it much easier to let go of anything that doesn’t support you in achieving that. And the letting go part is huge here, especially with so many marketing channels, so many new features, trends or platforms popping up, you really need to be able to stay focused and keep your marketing strategy simple and streamlined.
No more FOMO or jumping on every new feature or trend because that’s not going to support you to achieve your definition of success. It’s about being confident in your knowledge that what you’re doing is building what you want to build, and that confidence starts with knowing exactly what you want.
The second thing is to maximise the return on your investment. Your investment is your time and energy, the return is your goal.
What we inherently want to do when we use the philosophy of digital minimalism in our marketing is to spend the least amount of time and energy on things that are going to help us achieve our goals either quicker, or in a more powerful way.
And this is more than just repurposing content to make the most out of a post. That’s super valuable and definitely something you’d want to do, but it goes deeper than that.
What activities are going to take you the least amount of time and energy? They are normally ones that play to your skills, or that you enjoy the most, or better still, both of those things. Identify what your strengths are, and what you enjoy doing the most.
What marketing activities give you the best return on your investment? It’s not always about time. Here is an example: Long-lasting content, or evergreen content, is usually better, an hour-long podcast interview is generally going to give you a better return on your investment versus some IG stories because you could still see the return on that podcast for months to come, even though it took an hour to do versus 10 minutes on IG Stories.
Now of course, what gives you the best return will depend on what return you’re looking for. So identify your goals, make sure they are in line with your definition of success, and match that to the marketing activities you will do that will give you the best return on your investment.
These are the two main things to focus on if you want to successfully incorporate digital minimalism into your marketing strategy. What I hope you will take from this is that it is incredibly unique depending on the individual. Your framework for digital minimalism can look radically different to someone else’s because of your different definitions of success, because of what you enjoy spending time on, what your skills are, what resources you have etc.
Don’t let anyone tell you there is one rule book, one framework, or one method to achieving digital minimalism.
For those who may be following me on social media, you will know that I run a seasonal business model where I work far less over the summer. In a previous podcast episode titled Taking A Summer Off In Business, I explained how I changed my services to accommodate that, but I didn't explain how I changed my marketing to help me with that too. So let me share that here.
The main thing I did was focus on that return on investment, because of course the goal was to not just fit the same amount of work in less time, but to work less, in less time. So I focused on evergreen content, content that was going to maximise that return on my investment. I focused on what I enjoyed doing, which was podcasts and writing my newsletter, therefore requiring less energy because these didn’t drain me, and I knew the return would be greater because podcasts are long-lasting and my newsletter is my most engaged audience and therefore my highest converting marketing channel.
I also planned ahead to secure podcast interviews that I knew would go live intermittently throughout the summer, meaning I was still being visible even though I wasn’t actually visible in that moment.
But crucially, I aligned my goals with my definition of success. The goal wasn’t maximum visibility to gain new clients, I wasn’t there to take on those new clients! So that was ok because I didn’t want any new ones at that time, that wasn’t the success I was chasing at that moment in my life. Freedom was. That way, I always knew what was important, where I should be spending my time or where I should not be. This was not only strategically good for my business, but also good for me mentally too, because it meant I let go of a lot of stress or overwhelm and could actually enjoy my slower summer instead of feeling guilt or panic about what I was not doing for my business and how I could do more.
So can you incorporate the philosophy of digital minimalism into your business? Yes, if you redefine your definition of success so that you are totally happy with letting go of anything that does not support that, and that you’re super clear on what will help you achieve that success so that you are only spending your time and energy on those activities. And secondly, that you are strategically maximising your return on your investment. Where are you spending your time and energy online? How much time and energy does that take from you? Do those tasks drain you or energize you? What return are you getting from them? Are there other activities you could do that would give you a greater return on that investment?
It is all about being fully intentional about how you’re using your time and energy.
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