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How to sell without really 'selling'

Tue, 29/05/2018 - 10:00

As a marketer or a content creator, you often have to avoid the ‘hard sell’ in today’s modern world. You have to avoid sounding like a desperate salesman trying to ply customers with schlocky products that only you know the real value of. 

Often content marketers talk about the benefits of using the product when what you really should be talking about is the pain caused by the problem your readers need solved. Selling without really ‘selling’ is an important tool to have in your arsenal of marketing knowledge.

How to sell without really 'selling'

What are you really selling?
This is arguably the most important question to ask yourself before you start to create content. What are you really selling? Are you selling only a product or service, or are you selling the solution to a consumer problem that has not yet been answered by other brands?

Take, for example, someone who is selling a simple item like potting soil. Without asking the question of ‘What are you really selling?”, as a content creator at any marketing agency,  you might stop short and simply create ads and content that tell people how great the potting soil is. What you need to be doing is selling the dream of having the most beautiful flower bed in the neighbourhood. Your content should ‘sell’ the idea that your client’s product will solve a problem. 

It’s all about trust
Since you, as the copywriter or content marketer, are the one emailing people every day or creating website content on a regular basis, you need to show them that you understand their pain. This will make your client their go-to brand for help. 

This is a difficult concept for many marketing companies to grasp, but it is an effective tactic to employ if you want to ‘sell’ your client’s company, product or service without using a ‘hard-sell’ technique. If you use email marketing, focus your newsletters or emails on the problem rather than the solution. Do not make mention of a product or service. The reader will be ‘sold’ on your client once they realise that the company can answer their questions rather than simply offering them a gimmicky product description to do so. 

Your audience needs a reason to like you
We all remember Sally Fields’ Academy Awards acceptance speech of, ‘You like me! You really like me!’ (or, more correctly: ‘You like me, right now, you like me!’). It is important to continuously give your audience a reason to like your client, especially if you want to keep successfully ‘selling’ to this audience. If they only like you ‘right now’ then selling to them in the future could prove difficult. 

This means that, as a marketing agency, you rarely want to speak about your client's company itself but rather topics that your audience cares about. You use content to educate the audience about what your clients are experts in. Allow consumers to speak their minds on social media in order to build relationships with them. They will grow to like and enjoy interacting with the brand after they realise they are being taken seriously. This will also enable you to answer their problems with your content, which is a part of selling without really selling, as mentioned above. 

Blog about industry trends
When people think about blogs, they often imagine someone sitting behind their computer screens writing about the fabulous food they have cooked or the latest travel destination they have visited. However, a company blog can do wonders for your client’s online visibility, and it can make them seem more relatable to their audience. 

If your client is a bookstore, create posts about authors that the staff love or new books that have recently arrived. For coffee shop owners, blogging about the journey of the beans they use for their drinks can offer insight and personality to the company. A digital marketing agency in Johannesburg could blog about VR and AI in the industry. Blogging about industry trends also places your clients as industry experts, and this trust will ‘sell’ their services and products without one sales pitch having to be written. 

Laughter is the best medicine
One effective way to sell without selling is to make your audience laugh. Don’t be afraid to show your audience content that is not directly related to your client’s brand, especially if it is on-trend with something that has happened in the news. 

Comedic posts work well to build rapport with consumers, making it more likely that they will buy a product or use a service from a brand. Be sure not to veer too far from the client’s industry when you post something on their social media profile or blog. Always be sure to bring your content back to your audience, which means using inoffensive humour while still bringing a few chuckles forth as they scroll through your facebook page or Twitter feed. Making someone laugh can help to open them up to using your client’s products or services. 

The death of the (digital) salesman
In digital marketing, the ‘hard-sell’ is becoming obsolete with the popularity of content marketing. You need to be able to sell without really ‘selling’, which means that you have to figure out what, exactly, you are selling. 

Consumers do not want in-your-face sales pitches about why a product is the best, they want to know if it answers a question or solves a problem they have. Getting your audience to trust a client’s company is all about building rapport with them and understanding the pain and problems they are facing, then using this to create content that is relevant and valuable. Rather than being over-zealous with your sales techniques, a marketing agency needs to look to their content to do the ‘selling’ for you.