I once listened to an interview of a guy who’d spent some time dealing in street business.
He said that if someone who was also in that street business was owed money by someone else, and he didn’t exercise a sense of urgency in obtaining that money, this guy would have a very hard time doing future business in the streets. He was sending a marketing message to everyone else on the block: “it’s OK to owe me money rather than to pay me money.”
I’m sure our hypothetical street businessman would prefer to have his money, rather than to have a bunch of unpaid invoices out there. But the signal he’s sent out through his actions was his marketing message: if you owe me money and don’t pay, nothing’s going to happen to you.
Every single day, we are marketing ourselves. If you have an email list or website or social media account, every photo, caption, or @reply is a marketing message sent to whomever sees it. It’s a signal to the world saying, this is what I’m about. Here’s what I want you to know about me. This is how I want to be perceived. And the people who relate to that message become your friends, followers, subscribers and customers.
The poses and comments on your Instagram profile is a signal.
The typographical errors on your website’s About page are a signal.
The things you talk about, laugh about, take seriously, or completely ignore are a signal.
You’re marketing to the world exactly where you stand, what you’re about, and who you’d like to interact with.
If you’re unsatisfied with the people who are coming into your life, don’t try to change them — change your signal.