Marketing is Your Soul Discovering Her Voice Out Loud
(and the strategy to attract your soul-aligned clients)

Guest article with Janet Kodish of Free Once Again

“Janet Hope sounds good,” I muttered to myself.  “Like Bob, without the golf club.”  

It was 2013 and I was sitting in front of my computer drafting the “About” page for my first online venture – a blog about giving with purpose called “Beyond Checkbook Charity.”  

I knew BCC needed an About page. The problem was, I was scared to use my real name. Conveniently, my middle name has a nice philanthropic ring to it.  

“So why not go with Janet Hope,” I thought. “It’s close enough. It’s me, but with a brighter, more Anglo twist.” After all, if Lawrence Zeigler could become Larry King, certainly I could be Janet Hope.

Marketing as Truth Telling

Have you felt you had to choose in your marketing whether to reveal something personal about yourself?  You have no problem using your name online, but you hold back on in more subtle ways? 

I’ll admit straight out, it took me years to feel comfortable sharing my personal voice in my marketing, let alone my personal story. I am reserved by nature and was well schooled to keep family secrets as a child. 

In fact, one of my all-time favorite quotes is a line by Emily Dickenson:  “Tell all the truth, but tell it slant.”

I became very good at telling the truth, but not the whole truth. I was brilliant at bottom-lining a story, leaving out the parts that lead to my tender places, where the secret hurt and shame hid. It became a habit, this almost-truth telling.

Maybe you have this habit too.

Maybe you got into coaching and transformational retreat-leading because your soul knew you were called to do this work. You knew you were meant to heal others and in the process to heal yourself.

You know that healing requires truth-telling.

You know that you can only take your clients as far as you yourself are healed. As you lead your retreat, a dance takes place with your heart and head as you create a container of support for your clients’ transformation. You feel the healed and unhealed places of your heart. These are the places where you “get” your clients, and these are the places where you hesitate, unsure about being able to take your client where she needs to go. 

This dance of transformation takes place in your marketing too.

Your Marketing Conversation is a Dance with Your Future Client

If you’re like me, you didn’t become a coach and retreat leader because you love marketing. Yet here you are, in charge of the one single business function that brings clients to your door. 

That’s OK. You want to inspire potential clients with your message of transformation, and you want them to enroll in your retreat. 

So you begin the marketing conversation. You put yourself out there, first in the most obvious ways, revealing your name, gender, race, ethnicity, age. The census boxes checked off. This is huge.

Then there are the subtle ways. Every time you post on Facebook or give a talk you make a decision of what and how to share:

  • What do I share of my lifestyle, partner, family?
  • What do I share of my religious, spiritual, and political beliefs?
  • What’s my writing persona?  Where do I fall on the range from corporate speak to BFF?
  • How about video? What’s my on screen personality?  My set?
  • What parts of my life story do I share and what parts do I protect? 
  • What do I share of my struggles with the very topics that I coach on?

Each decision calls forth a version of your truth.  And, (here’s the kicker): each decision attracts a particular client to you, the client who has been waiting for your message to arrive, for that exact invitation to talk.

You’re not just sharing to share. Every marketing piece, whether it’s a newsletter or a Facebook Live, is a conversation between you and your ideal client, with the business goal of converting your ideal client into a paying customer.  

This is where marketing can get complicated.  Your marketing conversation is about your client:  her problems, dreams, blocks, and desires. Your marketing shows that you understand your client and the gap that keeps her from being her best self.

This is where marketing can be simple. Your marketing conversation is also about you. Marketing is how your client is drawn into your world and gets to know, like and trust you.  

Marketing can be as simple as trusting your heart.

Marketing is a Conversation between your Head and your Heart

Your head (planning, logic) decides what strategic business purpose a particular marketing piece serves.  Your heart (or spirit or soul) reveals to you what is called for in the moment.

If you’re stuck on #1 (business goal) you won’t connect with your heart or intuition. As a result, your marketing feel flat, or be preachy or informational. If you simply tell heartfelt story, your personal share may not inspire your reader to take action, or worse, come off as gratuitous or self-serving.

The marketing magic comes when heart and head work together. 

Your heart feels into what is needed now, and your head asks, “What do I want people to learn from this story? What action do I want them to take?  How will this story lead them towards my offering?”

How Your Head Blocks Your Marketing Soul

How often do you experience a scenario that looks like this:

You know you need to “get out there and market,” yet you just can’t get going.  Or you start and then stop, trying one thing after another, a Facebook post here, an Instagram there. A networking event here, a one-off talk there. Spending weeks revamping your website, which feels so 2018. You’ve grown so much since then.

You decide you need a class on copywriting, then on Facebook ads.

You look at your bank balance, which could use some love.  “Maybe I should toss it in,” you think. Go back to corporate. Give your partner some peace of mind.

It’s all so confusing, exhausting, and overwhelming. All you want to do is hold retreats.

When you don’t know what you should do, it’s no surprise that you exhaust yourself trying everything, or avoid doing anything at all.

I know, because I have been down this road, in my head, trying to figure it out. It took me six long years to go from Janet Hope, staying in the background of her own business, to Janet Kodish, leader of her brand.

The thing is, there are some common reasons why you may be hiding in the shadows of your marketing. 

    • You need clarity: You’re starting out and you don’t know who your ideal client is, the transformation you want to support, or what you want to say on Facebook.
    • You need confidence:  You’re learning retreat leading skills, video or copywriting skills, or how to book a damn appointment in your new-fangled scheduling app.
    • You feel vulnerable:  Making a mistake, writing an embarrassing post, screwing up the Zoom call – sharing your messes in the moment feels risky.
    • You’re in the closet with friends and family, fearing they will judge your new venture or an aspect of yourself that feels tender and in need of protection.
    • You have imposter syndrome. Feeling like you don’t belong to the retreat-leaders club or, aren’t worthy. 
    • You fear your following: Your tribe knows you for thing #1. You fear losing them if you switch to thing #2. 
    • Boredom: You are feeling out of sync with your messaging or your website and fear what losing interest might mean for you.

I could go on. The point is, there are a hundred and one ways to hide in your business. All of these ways are forms of fear.  This is good news.

The Wonderful Gift of Fear

The thing to remember about fear is that it is perfectly normal and to be expected. After all, you are an entrepreneur, a creator. No one has done or can do what you are doing. No one else can be you. You are the soul of your business.

Only you can do you.  This means that you cannot make a mistake.

You cannot make a mistake.

The thing is, if you are reading this post you know that the soul of your business wants to be discovered. You are discovering your soul through your business.

Fear is the brilliant spotlight that shows you exactly where you soul is hiding. It tells you what to get curious about. 

All you need to do is stay curious about your fear.  This is the secret to marketing success.

Be kind to yourself and welcome fear. Learn to work with your fear. Make a list of your stuck places. For each one, get curious about what feels so sticky. Allow the feelings beneath self-doubt to emerge.  Allow desire to well up.

Show Up and Play

I was talking with a colleague the other day about her dissatisfaction with some marketing copy coming from her professional copywriter.  One glance revealed the problem: my friend wasn’t in the copy. It was flat, generic. Her voice, aliveness, passion, was missing. Her soul was hiding.

My friend re-wrote the copy and everything changed. The words glowed with her brilliance.

Let your soul discover herself by kindly, gently, and persistently doing the thing that you fear is not good enough, that you think others should do for you.

Discovery happens in the doing, not in thinking about doing. Give yourself permission to try stuff out, experiment, and see what gives you pleasure. Give yourself permission to play.

How to Play with Purpose

Over the first two years of my coaching business I ran a series of experiments. I tried out ways of connecting, like organizing Meet-ups and webinars. I experimented with ways to communicate, through my newsletter and Facebook. I ran small advertising tests, through Facebook Ad buys and free ads on places like NextDoor. 

My experiments weren’t random darts thrown on a dart board. They were aligned with my larger business strategy and were supported by my business systems.

My strategy told me that I should not put effort into getting Facebook page likes and that I should sharpen up my copywriting skills.  My systems told me what content my newsletter readers responded to, which readers may be ready to book my retreat, and what specific problems they might have.

I noticed when my heart was pleased (writing, yes!) and when my head was fearful but intrigued (video is scary/fun).  

While I experimented, I was getting coached and discovering deeper layers of myself. Holding my first retreat brought tremendous learning, clarity and more confidence. I felt more alive, and so did my work.  I felt more confident and that showed in my writing. (You can see the difference in my old website and my new brand, Free Once Again, which launched in May 2019).

Marketing isn’t something you do, it is who you are being in your business.  It’s your personal brand evolving, in beautiful messiness and perfect timing. It’s the soul of your business, transforming out loud.  

You cannot make a mistake.

Janet Kodish, Founder, Free Once Again
Certified coach, retreat leader, social start-up ninja, introvert, recovering problem-solver, and encore career lady.

After retiring in 2012, Janet re-discovered her purpose as a certified Transformational Life Coach. But first, she had to set her heart free from a lifetime of duty to work and family responsibilities. Through small retreats, workshops, and private coaching, Janet delights in helping women create the life they love after 50, through the transformative energy of play. 


Janet’s free gift for RAGR readers is her  Simple Checklist to Align Your Soulful Marketing, Strategy, and Systems – GET YOURS HERE!


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