The Hardest Thing to Market: Me

No company’s marketing has moved me in the past few years quite the way that Chubbies has.

Chubbies makes short shorts for frat bros, and they are on a crusade to rid the world of cargo shorts one pair of gingham print “Danny Dukes” at a time.

The mission is concise and clear, and in a startup world full of “It’s this for that!” and 200-floor elevator pitches, I appreciate the focus. Maybe Chubbies wants to be this huge lifestyle brand one day. Maybe they have this big, broader vision in mind. It’s possible, in fact, probable, given what I know of founders so far. But that they were able to dodge the shiny objects and channel those dreams into a single focus is an accomplishment to be revered.

I hope to bring this kind of clarity to my own product offering – The Janet.

I’ve left One Mighty Roar and I’m consulting again.

I wanted to wait to tell everyone this in some type of big announcement blog post, coupled with a site redesign and, why the hell not, let’s give it a hashtag because we need more of those on the internet.

But I was waiting on defining my consulting offering before I did all of this.

After some consideration and the advice of a great friend, I decided to share my truth, my process and my story. Because you know what? Whether they are thinking of consulting too, or thinking about taking another job or thinking about whether or not this is really what they want, I’ll bet there are a lot of other people out there who feel the same way I do.

I know that I’m supposed to come off as an “expert” and completely buttoned up and flawless and bullet-proof…but I’m none of those things. I’m a curious and hungry work in progress.

Like a damn beacon of Millenial tech-savvy, ambition, idealism and team work, I’m inviting all of you to grow with me with this post.

Right now, my consulting page reads as such:

“Over the past five years I’ve helped a number of VC-backed startups refine their product messaging, develop content marketing programs and acquire and maintain users. I’m well-rounded and have experience in a variety of channels – PR, paid acquisition, social media, content, events and product partnerships. I like to think that I sit somewhere between the creative and the quantitative – I’m a great writer who also likes to dive into the data.”

“WTF?!” you say, “That’s like, the job of a 10 person marketing team.”

I know.

And herein lies the problem: I’ve been the first marketing hire several times in my short career so far, so I’ve had to wear all of these hats. That’s great if you are the first marketing hire, but if you want to be a big company marketer or a consultant or pretty much anything other than the first marketing hire, you’re going to have some problems. When you offer everything, you offer nothing. People don’t know what to do with “I can do anything!”

This is why it’s hard for me to market myself. It’s really really difficult to admit what I like to do most, what I don’t like to do, what I’m good at and what is best passed along to someone else. For the sake of survival I’ve had to be everything all wrapped up in one person for much of my career so far, often without thinking about what I liked to do the most or what I thought I did the best job at. My tasks have often spilled over beyond marketing to business development and product management. I’m a recession kid. I graduated in 2009. The rollercoaster of the economy, coupled with the rollercoaster of startupland, were always reminders that I was just lucky to have a job and I better do whatever it took to keep it.

On the one hand it’s great to be well-rounded and know how to do a lot of stuff. On the other hand, it’s a recipe for an identity crisis.

Cobbler’s kid much? 100 percent. I am the toughest product I’ve ever had to message, promote or generate leads for. Friggen Janet.

At the end of the day I know I’m that elusive T-shaped marketer and not a useless Jack-of-All-Trades-And-Master-Of-None. I know that some of my knowledge is deep expertise (I’ve been told I’m good at this stuff) and some of my knowledge is best summarized as dabbling. Right now I’m reflecting on which skills fall into which bucket, and where my time and my clients’ money is best invested.

What shorts do I sell? Who do I sell them to? These are the questions this week.

Oh. And if you do have a feeling that there’s a fit for me at your company… I’m taking on new clients, obviously. Email me at janetaronica@gmail.com.