What is an Unshiny Business? 

Hi, I’m Jo. Maybe you already know me. Maybe this is our first encounter. Whichever it is, you should know that I am not about to tell you that building my business was an easy process. 

For me, it wasn’t. I’m 49, British, introverted, possibly neurodivergent (more about that at another time.) a worrier, clumsy, super nerdy and definitely not polished. I struggle with many of the same things you likely do – procrastination, overthinking, self-doubt, feeling like an imposter at times, homeschooling, health issues, fitting in time to do the Asda shop – you know, the reality of being a human. 

 I’m also wickedly good at coaching and helping artisanal business owners find their voice, their message and a marketing approach that suits them and doesn’t leave them feeling like an exhausted heap on the floor. 


The Pressure to be SHINY is real

So when I first started my business, I really struggled because I couldn’t see anybody who was like me in the online business space. There were lots of very polished, very together smiley, thin. “Look at my amazing spotless kitchen!” Type of coaches and business people out there. And I just couldn’t see myself reflected in what they were saying in their approaches, or in a lot of their methodologies. 

Knowing what I know now, I’m positive I’m not the only one who feels this way – but back then I seriously questioned whether I could have a business that worked, made me enough money to live on, and allowed me to do the work I felt called to do. 

(which would have been a shame because, as I said, I’m really bloody good at what I do.)

That feeling of not seeing ourselves reflected in the style, language and culture of those who are deemed to be the ‘successful’ ones in a space can be a barrier to a lot of us. I know I’m not the only one who struggled with this. Thankfully over the years, I have gathered a band of fellow travellers and. Found my people, but it was a lot more difficult than it needed to be. 

The Unshiny Business Approach Is Different

In this podcast, I’m going to be sharing some of my experience, some of my expertise, as well as speaking to fellow travellers along the path of moving away from the very aggressive Bro marketers “sell that thing!” Crush your dreams”! Type of approach and over to something a lot more human, a lot more doable. Marketing for the rest of us. 

Not just because it opens up a space for those of us who aren’t shiny and aggressive, and very “grr!, I’m a tiger!” Type of people but because those techniques just don’t work in the same way that they used to. And they’re not the kind of things that we want to be putting out into the world. 

So if you’re sick of the bro marketers with their manipulative, shady tactics and overblown promises, there is an alternative – The Unshiny approach. 

In the very first episode of the Unshiny podcast, I’m going to share what an Unshiny business is and how this differs from many of the approaches you’ll see in the online marketing world. 

What’s more, I’ll share how the Unshiny business approach is actually much more effective and sustainable when it comes to building trust, finding clients and generating income than the bro marketing tactics and schemes. 


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“When I first started my business, I really struggled because I couldn’t see anybody who was like me in the online business space. There were lots of very polished, very together smiley, thin. “Look at my amazing spotless kitchen!” Type of coaches and business people out there. And I just couldn’t see myself reflected in what they were saying in their approaches, or in a lot of their methodologies. 

That can be a barrier to a lot of us. I know I’m not the only one who struggled with this. And thankfully over the years, I have gathered a band of fellow travellers and. Found my people, but it was a lot more difficult than it needed to be. 

In this podcast, I’m going to be sharing some of my experience, some of my expertise, as well as speaking to fellow travellers along the path of moving away from the very aggressive Bro marketers “sell that thing!” Crush your dreams”! Type of approach and over to something a lot more human, a lot more doable. Marketing for the rest of us. 

Not just because it opens up a space for those of us who aren’t shiny and aggressive, and very “grr!, I’m a tiger!”Type of people. But because those techniques just don’t work in the same way that they used to. And they’re not the kind of things that we want to be putting out into the world. 

I’m Jo Casey and I work with artisanal business owners, people who are in it for, for the work, for the craft for making a change with their clients or with their products or through the work that they do. People who want to put their values front and centre of their business. People who are not comfortable with the idea that we have to manipulate people into sales, or we have to be on social media, 24/7. 

And that’s why I call this alternative approach The Unshiny approach to doing business.   

So, let’s talk about what an Unshiny business actually is. And it’s a good place to start by looking at well, what is a shiny business, like,  what are the elements of a shiny business and how does an Unshiny business differ? And that’s not to say that shiny is a bad thing. It’s just that I use that as the terminology for, some people will call it bro marketing, some people call it kind of your traditional hardcore marketing. You can call it what you want – I just call it the shiny marketing, because it’s the stuff that I find just so impenetrable. It just leaves me cold and it does for many of my clients. So let’s look at that and some of the elements.  Because doing that contrast I think it’s really useful when it comes to a case of what is Unshiny business then.

So shiny marketing the extreme, I’m talking about the extremes here, but the half that very masculine approach.  Sometimes referred to as bro marketing. And as a coach called Carolyn Herfurth, I think you pronounce it, had this at this really nice kind of descriptions for it. Maggie Patterson  Also talks about this a lot and shared I’m using  Carolyn’s definition at the moment. So a bro marketing approach is it’s very masculine it’s a very masculine approach. That kind of idea of aggression dominance. The idea is very often that. There’s a manipulation that goes on using psychological triggers to compel the desired action. So there’s this, this kind of the whole field of research called. 

[00:04:16] Social triggers, which is about, you know, what are the kinds of things that we can do, we could say, or the conditions we create. I mean, it’s more likely somebody is going to take an action. And there are people who want you to know, who made your whole careers out of, of sharing these techniques. And you know, some of them, you kind of think, okay, that’s, that’s fairly benign. And then others are really kind of hardcore manipulation stuff. And there’s, there’s a whole gamut of them when it comes to marketing. So I’m not saying that using all social triggers is a bad thing because we. We probably all inadvertently use those. At times, but at its extreme. There’s this emphasis on how can you manipulate somebody psychologically to compel them to do things. So they use things like false scarcity. 

[00:05:07] “Only 10 places left”! or “we can only take 100 people on this webinar”, which it turns out is like prerecorded and there is no upper limit of how many people they can get on there. Or. You know, it’s only available at these three times, and then you look it’s prerecorded. Why is it only available at those three times? But you kind of think “I have to, I have to get on there. 

[00:05:29] Otherwise, I’m going to miss out on it”, it creates this agitation and people. Similarly really short deadlines, you know, when you get those the trip wires where it’s counting down like 10 minutes and you can see the second sticking buy-in and it tends to throw us into the psychological state of agitation and one of the ways that our brain tries to resolve and therefore relieve that agitation is by taking the action. And one more in the agitated state we’re much more likely to sign up for the thing that maybe we didn’t want really. And. Yeah. Again, it’s it’s it. It’s manipulating people. 

[00:06:12] Over-inflated promises or really complicated funnels and blueprints and this constant cycle of launches.  I know a lot of my clients worry about am I sending too many emails? And things like that when they are, you know, maybe they’re just sending like three a week or something, or. And, and then on the other extreme, you’ve got the people who were sending like, you know, at the end of a launch for some people you’ll get like six or seven a day. 

[00:06:39] And again, it’s, it’s, it’s trying to trigger the psychological response, which means that when we’re agitated, one more likely to take an action.  Bro marketing was created primarily by men and for men. But there are also women who use these techniques again, we’re talking about the extremes and they disguise their bro marketing this because they do it like, you know, with lots of pink. Do you like, I love your pink flat lay with glitter on it and metallic flourishes and things like that. These approaches are so pervasive it for a lot of us it’s, it’s what we think of as marketing. 

[00:07:21] Also for a lot of us, it’s when we, we kind of enter this world because typically the people I work with and you may relate to, this is certainly how I was. They are. Really into the thing that they do, you know, the coaches and they love coaching or they’re healers, and they love the they can see, really see the power and the potential for change. And, they love being able to help people. And that’s what they’re driven by and they want to be able to make a great living from it. Attend a couple of webinars or see these other people and they kind of go, Oh my. God, I couldn’t possibly do that. That looks hideous. 

[00:08:05] And that was certainly my responses. And I was like this real visceral kind of reaction. 

[00:08:12] There are lots of, . When these people are selling things to us, because also a lot of the things that we see and we see as marketing they’re things that are targeted towards us as business owners.  So there’ll be talking about their launch formulas and they’ll be talking about persuasion copy. And you may have heard phrases like push the pain points and emphasize to people that they’re really going to miss out if they don’t get this offer. 

[00:08:38]”Hurry places are limited”, 10x-ing things, very transactional, all of these six and seven-figure promises. A fair amount of guilt-tripping and shame-based selling, “Oh you don’t want this thing? Well, I thought you were interested in building your business.” You’ve that kind of thing. Lots of FOMO, fear of missing out. 

[00:09:00] Lots of urgencies, trying to create insecurity. This idea that we constantly have to be hustling.   There’s  Gary Vaynerchuk a quite famous thing that he talked about,  if you’re not willing to work 16 hours a day for it, then you don’t want it badly enough. And I take such exception of that for,  as somebody who literally does not have 16 hours know, do most people, unless you have, an inheritance and a wife and staff who are going to be looking after things. And this idea that we have to win all costs. It’s a very dominant space. You have to win the sale. You have to crush the competition, crush your goals, all of that kind of stuff. Oh, God. It’s exhausting. Even thinking about it. 

[00:09:43] So you may be thinking that that sounds hideous, but. It must work, mustn’t it?  And then here is the other thing that these approaches have been garnering fewer and fewer results as time has gone on. Because audiences are not stupid. And the coaching world is especially it’s littered with people who’ve tried all of these tactics and have little to show for it. I have worked with people who have spent 

[00:10:15] tens and tens of thousands on strategies that haven’t delivered the results that they were promised.  So let’s look at what works instead. What works instead is unshiny marketing. Human to human connection. 

[00:10:39]Adult to adult approaches. You may be familiar with the concept of transactional analysis. If you’re not, here’s a tiny, tiny, very high, high-level view of it. It’s the idea that. At any one time, we are as humans in. A particular psychological state of either adult. Parent or child.  Parent and child tend to have this triggering effect on each other. I don’t mean triggering us in, you know, triggering trauma or anything like that. But if you’ve ever had the experience where. So I can remember those one time when. I was working for an organization and I was having a meeting with somebody and she burst into the room. 

[00:11:26] And she said. I can’t believe you kept me waiting like that. There are so many mistakes in, this piece of work. This really isn’t acceptable. 

[00:11:36] So she’s being very critical parent. Now was my response to that calm and measured. Oh, no. My response was a stroppy teenager, basically. I’m in my thirties at this point. And I immediately, I could feel, I could feel this physical change on me. And I was almost doing that kind of wobbly neck shaky shoulders thing that, that teens do. 

[00:12:03] I said, well, it’s not my fault that that happened. You don’t know. I was immediately on the defensive. I was immediately in this almost like this, this, this teen can tell me what to do. State. 

[00:12:17] Similarly, you may have hard experiences where somebody has been very, very very in need. And your response has been to go on to soothe them and to take control and to reassure them and tell them it’s going to be okay. And because what can happen if sometimes in a needy almost childlike state it can trigger our nurturing parent side. Now, these things are bad. As I say, we are always in one of these kind of three. Headspaces if you like any one time and new usually happens. Totally subconsciously usually before we’ve even noticed that it’s happening. So I,  sometimes think of that Newton’s cradle those desks toys, where you pull out the ball on one side and all hit the metal balls and then the other ball swings out. So that equal and opposite reaction. 

[00:13:14] It’s like that, but psychologically when we’re interacting with people, And bro marketing uses those approaches quite a lot. It was sometimes she’s critical parent. If you haven’t got onto this yet, or if you’re not prepared to work 16 hours a day, you don’t want this enough. How would you expect to get into a good school if you’re not going to sit and put the work in? it’s that kind of tonality that can trigger stroppy teenager. Can also trigger any other aspects of that kind of child persona within us. And quite often that will be compliant child   “Oh yeah. Okay. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I don’t know what I’m doing. I really do need to sign up for this because, Oh my God I could never do this. I’m not working 16 hours a day. I need to work harder”. 

[00:14:06] And so in TA what they talk about is. To kind of bypass, those interactions when they’re not healthy and they’re not being very helpful is to use the adult state in the adult state assumes that well, I’m an adult and your, an adult and so, therefore, we can talk rationally. We can talk emotionally but we are both at an equal level. I don’t need to dominate over you. I don’t need to shame you nor do I need to kind of go, “Oh, please like me, please. Like me.”

[00:14:37] It’s this equal relationship. And in the Unshiny approach, what we focus on a lot is how can you maintain that equal, respectful relationship so your audience, your potential clients have that real sense of agency. There is no shaming that goes on. There is an assumption there in our interactions that actually people can make good decisions for themselves. I don’t need to manipulate them into doing anything. 

[00:15:11] the Unshiny approach is also about placing our values, front and centre of our work. So

[00:15:22] there’s often lots of debate around should you be talking about politics in your business? Well, personally 2016 and Brexit and the election of Trump. Where the watershed moments that for me meant I could not

[00:15:45] not talk about it. I could not just pretend, Oh, you know, “they’re all the same, aren’t they on both sides?” So when you have people overtly lying or being overtly racist and misogynistic and when there’s real actual harm being done for me personally, I could not remove that from my dialogue now that doesn’t necessarily mean that I have courses that are around social justice or, or things like that. That’s not my, my field of work, but it does mean that when I’m on social media, I don’t shy away from sharing my opinion or saying  which side of the fence if you like that 

[00:16:29] I land on. 

[00:16:32] I also make sure that I focus on how my values play out in my business and in my work. So it’s not just talking about what your values are. But there’s also something about how have you got your business set up in a way. That reflects and honours your values. So for example, one of my values is community. 

[00:16:59] Which is makes me laugh because I have, yeah, I’m massively introverted. And I know how hugely invaluable community is. And so having communities and communities, whatever, they may look like having healthy communities. Is really important. So for certainly my group program, my signature program, the supernova collective communities baked in right at the beginning of that. And we, we, we make sure that we have. 

[00:17:29] A session. Why should they be into the program, which is about let’s all define our working practices and how we’re going to show up for one another and,  how we’re going to handle conflict and,  those kinds of things? It’s really, really important for me that we have those kinds of healthy interactions and a healthy community. 

[00:17:45] Things like being genuinely anti-bullying is really important to me. I do not always get right. Sometimes I get massively wrong. But one of my values is also around learning from your mistakes and making amends. If,  when you do that, it’s not if it’s a when and I think we’re, we’re kind of interacting as humans we’re always going to mess up and we have to be okay messing up it doesn’t mean you like it, but it means that you’re not just going to dissolve into a heap on the floor if somebody calls you out.  Having conversations rather than just being “buy my thing, buy my thing!”. 

[00:18:25] There’s an awful lot of marketing, which is about that kind of very shouty approach to things. And the Unshiny approach is about, well, let’s have conversations like humans. So I will regularly have virtual coffees with people virtual cuppas with people.  My social media is a mixture of things like sharing. What I think is going to be useful content, but also kind of conversation starters – “I think that’s what do you think?” And again reinforces the idea that it’s this pre-adult to adult approach. 

[00:19:04] Being transparent. Being transparent, with things like your pricing, being transparent about things like what your values are. Things like, you know, what people get as part of, the programs. Being transparent sometimes when you mess up. Trying to be clear around things. You’re best to have, some clarity around this is who I help. This is what I help them with. These, the kinds of things that we will work on. These are the kinds of outcomes, you can 

[00:19:34] expect, but it’s providing that clarity around it. And that can sometimes mean kind of, no, that’s not what we work on or no, that’s, you know, I I’m very open. I’m clear with people. Yeah. Can you help me get to six figures if I do this program? I’m like, “no, it will not. If you’re like at high five figures, quite possibly, but if you’re starting from zero, no, we’re not. it’s very unlikely, but we’ll get to that stage in the, in this, as part of this course.” 

[00:20:02] It’s just about when we clear what you offer, being really clear about what you don’t.  And being clear when you don’t know as well, which brings to the next one is honesty. 

[00:20:12] Being honest about. Sometimes what the struggles are, what the messiness is, because I think being able to have more of those conversations about, well, what does it really take?  

[00:20:24] Is very empowering is really important to be able to share. 

[00:20:32] Because there are so much overblown promises.  there’s so much around.  Oh, look at my wonderful life. Look at my laptop lifestyle!” When you’re behind the scenes, that could be all kinds of things going on. And I think what, that, that kind of faux perfection. What that does. Is. It does a couple of things. It says to other business owners, “Oh, look, your life. Isn’t as perfect as me therefore, you can possibly do this.” 

[00:21:04] And I know people aren’t, overtly trying to say that, but that can be the result of it. But what it does more importantly for your bottom line is it says to clients, “I’m your guru. I will save you. I will rescue you”, or it says to them, “you couldn’t possibly attain, what I have attained.”  I sometimes look at people like, like Tony Robbins now, Tony Robbins is a flawed human being, but to listen to Tony Robbins, most of the time, he has, no flaws.  he’s perfect all the time. He’s very, very defensive. And I think a lot of that kind of male, not just marketing. But. Yeah, I’m recording this a couple of days after Piers Morgan’s walked off Good Morning Britain after being called out for his appalling treatment of and comments around Meghan Markle that kind of pretend that I’m invincible and everyone else’s a snowflake. And then as soon as people are called out on things, it’s like the board is tipped up in the air and people walk off and leave the field or complain and it’s cancel culture then suddenly, whereas they will spend so much of their time trying to cancel or the people. 

[00:22:20] This real kind of viciousness that goes on. 

[00:22:24] And  I honestly think that an awful lot of that comes from the inability to show any vulnerability, the inability to say, when they’ve messed up, the inability to even hear a challenge around whether that was the right thing to do because a lot of the things that we do in our work. Because the majority of the work that I do is with, with coaches, with healers, with, with makers, 

[00:22:51] It’s nuanced. There, there aren’t always a right and wrong. For the type of work that I would hazard a guess that you’re doing, that I’m doing that most of my clients, my, my friends and my colleagues at doing it’s kind of pioneering in a way we’re collectively breaking an individually breaking moulds as we do this work. 

[00:23:15] And so they’re all no easy answers. You’re not always going to have a kind of “yes! got that perfectly, right.” You’re going to mess up. And sometimes there’ll be some messiness around. “I don’t know if I messed up, I did the right thing. And I thought at the time, but now on reflection, I’m not sure if it was the right thing. Maybe there wasn’t a right way of handling this.” 

[00:23:37] An awful lot of doing business is about “I’m going to try it and see if it works. And then if it does, or it doesn’t, then I need to kind of reflect and govern the data and get the feedback and see how could we make that better.” or if it doesn’t work, it’s about “how can I change some things may be to try it again?”, or “do I need to take a completely different approach?” 

[00:24:02] And everyone is able to operate in those nuanced, messy spaces then it’s really hard to grow. Then you end up just Crumbling at the first sign of something going wrong because you can’t handle the fact that it isn’t shiny. Isn’t perfect. And I think psychologically that’s really bad for us. 

[00:24:23] So. This, there’s an element of having that, that transparency around running your business for you as the business owner, but also for your clients. If you’re a coach, if you’re a healer if you’re anybody who does any kind of work that involves a human exchange, even if you’re a maker

[00:24:48] then our clients want to know more than anything, can they trust us with their vulnerability? Can they trust us with their hope? But if you’re somebody who is so uncomfortable with vulnerability, who always shows up as with the shiny, completely shielded, almost like, demi-God figure,  

[00:25:17] how is your client going to be able to trust that?  They’re going to look at that person and go, “that person could never help me because they wouldn’t understand what it’s like to be me”. 

[00:25:29] I work with a lot of particularly life coaches who get quite hung up on the idea that they have to somehow show that they are superhuman beings who never have any stuff who never struggled with anything in order to have clients have faith in them. And I actually think it’s the opposite. Because nobody has any stuff in their life. Nobody has this perfect,

[00:25:58] polished life. And next week’s episode is all about why that is a terrible thing for us all. Nobody has that. And so in order to really connect with your clients and really allow them to trust you, they have to be able to see you. They have to be able to see you in your humanity. Now that doesn’t mean that you have to show up 

[00:26:22]when you’ve just had the row with your partner and you’re doing the ugly cry on Instagram live. You don’t have to do that. 

[00:26:29] I wouldn’t dream of doing something like that, but I’m really open about the fact that I launched this program and it didn’t quite work, or I struggle with these aspects of marketing or I struggle with consistently showing up because I find it quite exhausting and I never quite know where the line is between when is it too many emails and when does it end up. 

[00:26:47] Yeah, all of those things. Cause there isn’t one, right definite answer. Just like there’s no one, right definite answer to how to you be a human. 

[00:26:55] And when we’re in that kind of shiny mould when we’re in that”everything’s perfect. Everything is fine” mould, and we’re not showing that, that human side of us, that messy side, that unshiny side, it creates this barrier between us and our potential clients. 

[00:27:16] So the unshiny approach is about how do we allow ourselves to show up in all of our humanity, with our gifts and our skills placed front and centre. , Fully owning what we can do and our brilliance and being able  to say to people,” I can help with this, this and this.”

[00:27:37] and do it in a way that is going to create real connections with our people. And that is what my friend and mentor Tanya Geisler calls simple, not easy. 

[00:27:55] But that’s what we do here. That’s the work. That’s the unshiny approach. 

[00:28:02] And it doesn’t have to be complicated. 

[00:28:08] It’s about. Sometimes showing up and saying 

[00:28:13] “it’s really hard at the moment. Isn’t it? And here’s how we could make it just that tiny bit easier.”

[00:28:18] Instead of saying “it’s really hard, but here’s how you can crush all of your fears or never feel fear again!!!”  it’s about nuance. And it’s about having that reality check to some of that really overblown marketing approach. 

[00:28:35] Because people are so tired of it. They’re so over it. It’s not working in anything like the way it may be used to because our audiences have got wise to it. And so not only is it ethically a far better thing to do? Not only does it feel much better to do as business owners, it’s way more effective. 

[00:28:59] So I hope that this episode has helped too clarify some points to you and maybe give you some pointers about how you can produce some more authentic less shiny connections with your people, how you can take some of the pressure off yourself to try a mask, just your very humanness. And how you can see that there is more than one way to market and 

[00:29:32] marketing, running your business, working with your clients can actually be a really lovely thing. It doesn’t have to be this horrible, separate thing that is just like, you know, eating your vegetables or,  just the thing you have to do in order to be able to do the work that you want. It can be this gorgeous extension of the work you already do and who you are in the world. [00:30:01] Thank you so much for listening. I would love to answer any questions that you have feel free to email me at jo – at -jocasey.com.  If you have questions and I will be more than happy to answer them on one of the forthcoming episodes. Thank you so much. You take care. Have a great rest of your day.