I’m not sure how we ever ended up with such a flabby and sadly inaccurate verb as “marketing” to describe what we do when we’re marketing.

And maybe it is the very vagueness of the verb “marketing” that so often shuts creative people down. You may feel like you don’t know how to do marketing because the action of it is so unclear. Or maybe you feel like marketing is a mysterious something that only other, bigger businesses do.

Here’s the trick – pick another verb.

  • Could you romance people into your work?
  • Could you tease them?
  • Entice them?
  • Needle them?
  • Holler at them?
  • Seduce them?
  • Sing to them?
  • Nudge them?
  • Whisper to them?
  • Whip them?
  • Dance with them?
  • Engage in civilized discourse with them?

Just pick a verb you love and substitute it for the word “marketing.”

Now, what ideas does that new verb spark for you?

  • If you like “romancing” maybe you could offer your massage services in a rhyming couplet.
  • Or if you were attracted to the verb, “dancing,” perhaps you would like to host a sock hop to show off your spring collection.
  • If you liked the verb, “whisper,” maybe you could create a special discount only given to people who know the secret word. (Can you imagine handing out little discount coupons that say, “pssst – Joe sent me” or – even more fun – are written in invisible ink and can only be revealed under a special lamp at the register?)

Can you see how substituting one verb for another opens up a whole world of possibility to you?

Plus, since these are verbs you love, the activity will feel fun, easy and effortless. And you know how magnetic that can be.

In fact, you can use this “re-verbing” strategy with any activity you’re dreading.

As I discuss in my new book, “Get It Done: From Procrastination to Creative Genius in 15 Minutes a Day” (New World Library) renaming your projects can have a wonderfully liberating effect on a person.

Give your project a new name. Because chances are you’ve either given it a horrible, homework-sounding name like “revise my manuscript” or “update the website,” or you have been living with the name of this project for so long, it’s become a sort of punishment every time you think about it.

Give it a fun name, a silly name, a sexy name, a name that makes you smile. “Work on my novel” sounds tedious, but “polish my diamond” sounds kinda fun; “send email about workshop” sounds tiresome, but “release a thousand kisses through the Internet” sounds kind of delicious.

One client, May, was trying to restart her acting career after taking time off to raise her kids. She found the whole concept of starting over depressing — it made her feel so old — that she couldn’t bring herself to take the first step. When she renamed her project “finding center stage,” she found that it fueled her love of acting and that it encouraged her to stay centered as she juggled motherhood and career.

And there’s no need to be literal. Another client, Liza, called her project “embracing the mango” not because her project had anything to do with fruit, but just because that name felt yummy and sensual. 

Gena was a successful television writer who wanted to transition into writing screenplays. When I urged her to rename her project, she demurred. “I don’t know the name of the screenplay yet,” she said. “No problem,” I said. “When you think of creating this screenplay, what verb comes to mind other than writing? Dancing? Flirting? Singing?” “Birthing,” she said without hesitation. “Great,” I said, “and if your screenplay were a color, what color would it be?” She looked straight at me and said, “Blue.” “Perfect! We’ll call your project ‘birthing blue.’ ”

Working swiftly, write down a few possible names for your project, and pick one that tickles your fancy, challenges you, or has a mysterious appeal.

Next time you’re thinking about how you could attract more of the right kind of clients to your business, think about what verb would be most fun for you to play with and let your imagination run wild.

After all, that’s one of the things you do best, isn’t it?

How did we ever ended up with such a sadly inaccurate verb as "marketing" to describe what we do for business? Do it better and beat procrastination.