The online space has provided business owners with more opportunities to find and reach their target audience. It has levelled the playing field.But as I scroll through my social media channels there is one mistake I regularly witness businesses make and it saddens me because I know there is a better way.That mistake?Thinking that sales and marketing is the same thing when they are not.
Online marketing has blurred the lines a little, that is true but the heart of marketing is all about creating connection with your audience. It is about building relationships and trust.Marketing is about less selling but more sales.
I often come across feeds filled with pictures of products alertingfollowers of where they can buy them. Similarly I see websites where it’s all about the product or the service, not the problem or desire you solve.
If you truly want to make an impact online and cut through all the noise you need to place connection with your audience and the customer themselves at the forefront of your actions. Here are a few ideas tofoster this connection, no selling required.
1. Focus on creating a great visual brand
Branding is an excellent way to build trust with your audience and demonstrate your professionalism.
With modern free tools such as Canva and the choice of a million different website themes, any business can create beautiful graphics. The key? Consistency! Always use consistent colours, fonts and image styles and you’ll already be ahead of the pack.
Right from the beginning of starting my business I knew brand imagery was important. To me everything felt so DIY and definitely not perfect. But to my surprise I got feedback on how “professional” everything looks. Trust me, it’s definitely not my design skills but just the fact that I chose a palette and stuck with it.
2. Help people to imagine having your product in their lives
What feelings do you want to evoke when someone gets one of your products? Can you translate this feeling into your social media, your emails and your website? One of the best ways to do this is to create or select styled images that demonstrate this feeling. If you want to inspire fun with your product show it in use with people laughing. If you want to inspire calm show it in spaces that are clutter free and beautiful. Make the focus the feeling not the product.
3. Give your best knowledge away for free
Often people are scared to show what they know or to give away their “secrets” as it will stop people from needing their products. In fact, it is the exact opposite. Think about cooking for example. There is a lot of free information and recipes available yet we still buy cookbooks, still go to restaurants and if we are extra keen go to cooking classes.
Sharing your expertise helps people to trust you and boosts your credibility. It makes you stand out from the rest of the crowd who are holding their information back.
By creating a blog or podcast or even just creating really informative social media posts, people see that you know what you are talking about. They will trust you and this will set you apart from the rest of the crowd who are hiding all of their secrets.
The added bonus? By having this information available you have something to “promote” that isn’t a direct pitch.
4. Make real connections
Thanks to the internet the avenues for us to connect with our ideal audience have been widened. Facebook groups provide a forum to meet and discuss all sorts of ideas. This is the ideal place to get to know your audience and helping them get to know you through the art of just having a chat, and once again, being helpful. Again no need for the sales pitch here. People will notice and they will look you up to see what you do.
Personally, engaging highly in a few key Facebook groups has been the biggest driver for my business. It has amazed me how many people have sent me a private message asking if they could work with me as a result. So much so that I have become booked out without even having a work with me page.
5. Lift others
“A rising tide lifts all boats”. Take a moment to list out a number of small businesses that serve the same target audience that you do. Start connecting with them, but more than that think about ways in which you can promote their products or services too. This could be in the form of an official collaboration like product swaps, flat lays or competitions. Or it could be more unofficial like sharing their posts or giving them a shout out. You’ll be amazed at how effective this is in building your influence in your industry.
This article just cuts the surface on various “non-sales” tactics you can followand ways you can focus on the heart of marketing rather than sales. And while there will come a point when you should ask for the sale, it should be after you have built a relationship with your audience. Not before.
So where to from here? The challenge I issue you is to try at least one of the above suggestions and add this to your marketing mix. Most wouldn’t take more than 30 minutes of your time a week but they will have a massive impact and help you tap into the real heart of marketing.