As a marketing consultant, I both shake my head at and understand the cringe some people have towards marketing and sales. People buy products and services. There is no shame in this. Yet somewhere along the way, businesses and business owners began to cringe about the concept of sales and promotion.
Why is that?
It isn’t because there isn’t a market for good business. People still want to buy goods and services. They still want things that solve a problem and/or make them feel good.
We’re still going to buy things we need and want. And we’re still going to buy the odd item that is silly and frivolous. We’re still going to buy things we may regret later.
What’s interesting is that cringe when it comes to sales and marketing. How do you overcome your own bias in a world that shouts every second at you to consume? How do you shake that sinking feeling you might be as objectionable as the last marketing you saw?
Here’s a small guide to selling in an over-crowded and often hype-filled world. One that’s written by a marketing consultant that’s probably even more cynical than you
Understand what problem you solve
As simple as it sounds, you do need to know what problem your product or service solves for your customers. When we move away from this idea, we start losing the real reason we’re there and we’re appealing to people.
Create a big enough gap between that reason and your marketing and you make a rod for your own back. People want their marketing expectations to match the experience they have after all!
Go back to basics and look at your product. Think about what you do for others.
Are you that guilty treat on a bad day? Are you the caring hairdresser that allays fears associated with bad hair cuts? Are you the plumber that gives the honest estimate? Are you the copywriter that gets to know the business before writing the website? Are you the app about to reshape the fitness world as we know it? Are you the marketing consultant that knows people aren’t always keen on marketing?
Be honest with your business and allow it to be what it is. Connect with that need and its place in the scheme of things and own it unashamedly.
Pick a voice that feels right for you
I’ve spoken about the need to avoid sounding like other websites and brands before. What I haven’t dug into is finding the right voice for you.
The voice you choose for your brand is the heart of your branding, especially with established customers.
Your business voice has to do a few things well:
Stay consistent and recognisable- even if you share the load across social media or content marketing aims, the voice of the brand remains
Appeal to a spectrum of audience- new customers are often the ones hungry for information on your website. Social media is for the customers that want to hang onto the story and stay attached. Blogs and video might be for self researchers in all cycles of engagement. Your voice needs to be open to all
Spark imagination- no matter the style, you have to spark imagination. They have to feel welcome and have that feeling of sitting fireside with your brand to have a chat. No matter if that chat is a laugh over a few beers in a pub or at a conference packed with peers, customers hunger for connection
Balance the moods of your customers- this is a tough one for a lot of brands to handle. Most brands are OK with talking about the positive aspects of their products, but rarely touch on the tough subjects. But you will have disappointed, angry customers on occasion. You may make mistakes. And you have to have a strong enough voice that helps them come to terms with those emotions. Context matters and it will inform your customer’s ability to attach well to the voice presented when they need you the most
That’s why it’s important to be consistent and to choose a voice for your business that is appropriate no matter the situation.
Avoid boil-in-the-bag solutions
A lot of marketing consultant style peeps and marketing companies make an absolute fortune selling their marketing silver bullets. From automated plugins to splashy email courses, you’ve most likely seen and read pretty much every offer there is.
Let’s be honest though. Most of those guys make their millions off selling how they cracked it to you. It doesn’t mean it will work for you.
Selling marketing is different to actually marketing. A real marketing consultant spends time cultivating an air of experimentation as opposed to “this is how it is and that’s the end of it”. Marketers are comfortable in the creative and the grey. Marketing is about innovation and connecting with the audience.
You don’t get that with a pre-fabricated roadmap.
Experiment with the common ideas available. But don’t start lining up for seminar after seminar on how to sound like Bob because Bob doesn’t give a crap about your business. Bob cares that his product (which is marketing Bob to you) is selling. That’s a huge difference.
Instead, craft your business based on your point of difference. Look for hallmarks such as:
- Who are your customers?
- What problem do you solve?
- What is the common positive feedback you receive from your customers?
- How do you find your customers on a regular basis?
- What sorts of content do they consume?
- What sorts of stories, tips and tricks do they care about?
- How can you make their lives easier with your product?
- Why would they recommend you to their friends?
If you keep reaffirming why you are there for your customers and why you are a valid choice compared to your competitors, life becomes a lot simpler.
Find your why and keep sharing that story in as many ways as you can think of.
Believe in what you sell and life becomes a whole lot simpler
Don’t spend a lot of time pouring in all the ingredients of what might work. Get the job done!
There’s a difference between having boundaries to help guide you and a bunch of constraints sucking the joy out of what you do. So if marketing yourself becomes a checklist style exercise, take a step back.
Connect with the work you are doing and things become a whole lot easier to sell.
Every product and service invented exists for a reason. Your job as a business is to harness that reason. Share why you exist with your audience.
This may sound simplistic, but it’s true.
What matters is making sure that customers are comfortable, happy and willing to listen to you. It matters that they trust you. This is why if you are the hip new bar in Wollongong or the sassy cafe turning heads in Bathurst, you can thrive with only a Facebook page.
How you tell that story is up to you.
Looking to learn how to channel your inner marketing consultant without feeling like a jerk? Bring me to your city or town now.