What are you selling?: How being yourself is the best marketing tool.

I can imagine your Goals list for 2012  – You’re dreaming big and that is a wonderful thing.

Before you rent out ‘Wall Street‘ and pump yourself up to take on the world, take a moment to recognize that simply being you increases your chance of succeeding.

That’s right! You are unique. Your personality, your smarts, who you know, what you’re passionate about – this all adds to why you are the awesome person you are, and why with those basic elements alone, you have an edge on everyone else.

You are your business.

What you stand for, your behaviour and  what you project are what you’re selling, and no one has mastered how to sell the same product as you, because only you have the right ingredients.

I have had a number of emails in the last few weeks as filmmakers across the country  flock to crowd sourcing sites to raise funds for their films. Along with being asked for advice (thanks to a small online film fundraiser I ran in 2010), I’ve also been asked if I could tweet and Facebook their fundraising site and encourage people to donate.

There’s nothing wrong with asking this of me – nothing whatsoever. However, I know that posting someone’s fundraising efforts on my Facebook wall will do little to help their cause. It’ll add to the online awareness of your film – sure. But my friends aren’t about to give a stranger money. Why?

People donate to causes and organisations that they connect with. There needs to be a story or an emotional understanding associated with the fundraiser, before we reach into our pockets. This is why you, as the ‘seller’ are the only person that can drive attention and assistance to your appeal.

I can’t give you a factual explanation as to why my fundraising efforts for my film ‘Something Fishy‘ were successful (it may have helped that we weren’t asking for millions).

One fact I can relay is that out of the 52 that donated only 2 of those 52 people hadn’t met me in real life.

This proved to me that the primary people interested in investing in your project are people you actually know. You are the first port of call – you are essentially who they’re donating to – not your film/start-up/product – YOU!

How you present yourself and communicate what you stand for in ‘real life’ is the most accurate version of who you are and the most effective way to engage with people.

We all have that one friend who is always smiling. We love hanging out with them because they make everything enjoyable. We associate positive experiences with them.

I like to call the exchanges you have with people “Emotional Experiences”.

When you meet someone for the first time they conjure an emotional reaction, sometimes good, sometimes bad, and from then on you connect your idea of them with that initial feeling.

What a person represents can change over a range of encounters but much like falling in love, some people simply have you at Hello! This kind of chemistry and positive Emotional Experience can only be achieved by being genuine and open. Yes. You must be you.

How can you be you if you’re busy feeling like you isn’t enough?!

I’ve heard plenty of people confess they pretend to be their idol when they’re at an important meeting or audition. I think this concept works – temporarily. Walking around pretending you are Cate Blanchett or Jack Dorsey will soon become tiring and people will recognise that you’re faking it. People want to trust you, not be weary of your motivations.

Instead of pasting up a range of post-it notes in your car and in your house to remind you to ‘Believe in yourself’, maybe try manipulating your physicality?

Conjure up confidence with a few physical modifications…. I’m not talking about Plastic Surgery! I’m talking poses. The way you stand – sit – the whole bit.

Your physicality tells a story on its own and Bad Posture and awkward physical habits send out the signal that says you don’t even buy you! So why would anyone else want to?!

This great study featured on the Harvard Business School site by Julia Hanna: ‘Power Posing: Fake it until you make it’ proves that sometimes we need to walk the walk so that we can talk the talk and somehow, our body gets tricked into believing we are the business.

If you still need the post-it notes to remind you that you’re worthwhile – keep them up. I like to think that those that are really worthwhile have also felt worthless.

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
Khalil Gibran

Go out and embrace who you are this week and know that you are enough. Warts and all. Fears and insecurities. They exist because they shape you and keep you being an original product worth purchasing. I’d buy it.


  1. Love your passion for this, Kristy, and agree entirely with where you’re coming from. There are some great nuggets of wisdom in this.

    Having said that, I do think you’ve oversimplified the adage of “being yourself” to a point of near redundancy overall. I think it’s important that people who read this and are left with a fluffy feeling, can have something to do with that feeling.

    So, here are my few cents to add.

    1. Don’t just be yourself; be the best version of yourself that your audience can relate to. It’s a common – and common sense – belief that you can’t present yourself in a deliberated fashion and still maintain integrity and authenticity.

    We all have different versions of ourselves that we put forth depending on the context. The variations might be slight, and usually subconscious. For example, we present ourselves and communicate differently to our closest friends than we do with people in positions of authority.

    2. Figure out who you want to sell your brand, product or service to; why you want to sell to them specifically; and what they care about above and beyond what you have to offer them.

    I just ran a workshop last night for a group of cultural performing artists (mainly dancers and some singers). I explained this process to them, and verified that they all believed they were already doing this.

    When I broke up groups to do a role-play of an initial sales conversation, everyone realized that they were a lot more self-focused than they thought they were. Be true to yourself, but focus almost entirely on the needs and desires of whoever you’re selling to. This builds rapport and will help you be more compassionate, and in turn more authentic.

    3. Evolve. “Being” is really a constant journey, and whilst it’s so very important to be yourself, and be the best version of yourself, if you’re not also evolving – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually – you’ll lose touch with your own sense of self, which makes it harder and harder over time to “be yourself” at all.

    Hope that’s helpful to readers as an extension upon Kristy’s awesome post.

    1. Hi Dev, thanks for your response. Not entirely sure about what you mean when you say a ‘sales conversation’? In regards to performing artists? Auditions and shows are your pitch….Do you mean in terms of selling a show? Or getting investors?

  2. I used the term “sales conversation” because of the title of your post, and how you’ve spoken about selling “you” in this context (which I like!).

    For me, a sales conversation is any conversation you have where there’s an opportunity to move a professional relationship forward, one way or another.

    For example, lets say you meet someone at a casual event and realize that this person is well connected with casting directors. You might decide that you’d like to develop a better, sincere relationship with this person and connect with their networks, with the ultimate goal of landing a particular gig.

    Your pitch might come at a later stage to a particular casting director (and whoever else) in the form of an audition, but you’re having a sales conversation with the person you just met, because you want to exercise some influence over them and build a sincere professional relationship with a particular outcome in mind.

    Does that help?

    1. Hey Dev,
      This is my personal opinion on what you have just mentioned in terms of the Industry, the Australian one anyway.
      If I feel like someone is hustling me, I won’t be hanging out with them ever again. People often speak of being able to smell the desperation of an Actor and it is a scary thing to be around. We’ve all been there – we get it and it is quite easily understood, especially if you come into contact with a tolerant being that has the capacity to feel that you’re just trying to do what you can to make your dreams come true but essentially, a Casting Director will get you in if they want to see you. Being their ‘friend’ hasn’t got a lot to do with it. They don’t want to be seen to be wasting the time of Producer or Director by getting their friends in the room if they’re not ‘right’ for the role. This is why you have an agent. They have the relationship with the Casting Director to begin with until you develop a professional rapport with them and if you don’t have an agent – do class with a Casting Director! There are plenty of opportunities for that. There are definite ways to ‘network’ that are kosher. Using parties to make friends with people that have a broader network than you sounds extremely unappealing to me. It shouldn’t be your goal.
      What I was getting at in my Blog post, is that you just need to be you. People will take that, or leave that. You represent your work and you must be willing to put yourself out there at times but i don’t understand how you can build a ‘sincere professional relationship’ with someone if you have ulterior motives already in place. I was particularly talking more from a filmmaker fundraising point of view. Acting is an entirely different beast.
      This is just my personal opinion of course and one on how I believe the Entertainment Industry works. It is very different to how other Industries interact in lot of ways. The fact each city has such a tiny community of Arts professionals also means that if you’re passionate enough and proactive enough – making films, doing theatre, going to class, you will build a network yourself – naturally. Doesn’t mean you’ll be in Hollywood in no time but passion brings success. Just be you.
      I think that’s the best way. 🙂

      1. Hi Kristy,
        I agree with you completely on all counts. I can see how what I said might be taken in a cynical way, especially if you’ve been burnt by opportunistic “friends” in the past. I have, and it’s not nice at all. Like you, I’m very careful about avoiding hustlers. What I was talking about is not hustling.

        By definition, hustling means “Force (someone) to move hurriedly or unceremoniously in a specified direction.”

        There’s nothing forceful, hurried or dubious about letting someone you meet in a social situation know that they might be able to help you with your professional goals.

        “You represent your work and you must be willing to put yourself out there at times but i don’t understand how you can build a ‘sincere professional relationship’ with someone if you have ulterior motives already in place.”

        I think the idea of having “ulterior motives” inherently suggests hidden agendas. The key word being hidden. I don’t think hustling or trying to become friends with someone with the “ulterior motive” of stepping on their shoulder for a professional or career move is a very smart (let alone ethical) thing to do in any industry. I do believe that some people succeed for a while doing it, but I don’t believe it leads to much fulfilment in whatever short-lived success those people get, so what’s the point.

        I’m not a professional actor, but have been fortunate to have some wonderful exposure and contacts to the industry, and have met people who have approached me to leverage that. I’ve also met people who have tried to hustle me for it. There’s a distinct difference, and the difference is in the transparency (or lack thereof) and clear communication of their intentions.

        Some people will cozy up for leverage, and there’s a lack of integrity there. The others will introduce themselves, introduce their brand, and as soon as it becomes relevant, introduce the fact that you might be able to help them in their cause, and ask if helping them is something they might be interested in.

        If I want to raise funds, or even awareness, for a cultural, arts or non-profit cause (which I do a fair bit), I will reach out to people I meet for their contribution if I feel it’s something aligned with their values. More often than not, those same people have gone on to become good friends of mine, building personal relationships alongside “sincere professional relationships”, based on a fundamental respect for the transparency and integrity I mentioned.

        By default, I don’t make friends to do business with them, but I only get into business with people who I think I could be friends with.

        “…but passion brings success. Just be you.”

        Like I said already, I totally agree with where you’re coming from. My expansion upon what you said comes out of the frustration of personally seeing many creative professionals and artists who have a lot of passion and integrity, but don’t necessarily know how to direct it or even communicate it, so they jump from project to project, swaying on the whims of passion without strategy.

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