You do NOT have to evoke fear in your audience or customer to make a sale. Plus, positive relationships can not be built when their first encounter was being scared into it.
The most effective way to grow your brand or business is by building trust with your ideal customers, creating positive relationships, and nurturing them way past the point of sale.
56% of start ups make it to year 5* - I don’t normally like to be a Debby downer but we have to see what’s not working and what we can do to make the difference between a struggling business or a sustainable one.
What’s not working
People shop and communicate with businesses way differently than they did just 5 years ago. They are getting smarter and more on guard because they have been burned too many times by a product that didn’t work or a service that didn’t live up to what they said it would do. Maybe you’ve been confronted with a difficult customer by no fault of your own but because they are worried they will be taken advantage of because of previous experiences. What causes a lot of this distrust are forms of outbound marketing. Outbound marketing is when a person is interrupted in some way to be introduced to your company when and where they weren’t expecting it. The first defined forms of marketing were outbound marketing - think newspaper ads, radio, tv commercials, magazines, direct mailers, telemarketers, email spam, and it’s still widely used all over the internet. Outbound marketing can have it’s place in your customer journey (usually in the form of retargeting ads) but it’s the most effective after your audience has already had several touch points with your business.
Outbound marketing is not working because we as viewers are now conditioned to tune out 90% of it. When was the last time you clicked on a banner ad on a website or app for a company you’ve never heard of? I know I haven’t in awhile. Best case scenario even when a businesses that’s closely aligned with my interests advertises to me and I click and buy, there’s no real depth or loyalty there and way harder to get a repeat purchase or advocate out of me. It’s just that one thing I bought from that one company from an ad.
Outbound marketing is what has scared a lot of us business owners to market our businesses at all in fear we will come off salesy, annoying, pushy, or rub our customers the wrong way.
So what do we do? We turn to good ol google for some marketing ideas and a lot of what you’ll find are tactics that use a form of fear to evoke a response in the view so they will act fast and buy. Unfortunately, this works in a way I don’t fully know how to explain because I’m not a psychologist or biologist but basically we are wired for survival so when we feel fear our body releases adrenaline which heightens our senses and causes us to act. Fear based marketing preys on insecurities and perceived inadequacies of our audience to get the sale.
What happens next with the customer: They will get the product or service, it doesn’t fill that void that was created by the fear used in the marketing tactic and they will go try to fill it another way. Or, the once heightened senses get back to normal range they feel manipulated, used, and regret the purchase especially if it was anything less than the most amazing product they ever came across. Fear based tactics automatically set the bar really high in the eyes of the customer.
What this means for you: A never ending cycle of acquiring new customers and playing to a strictly need - want relationship. This is just a guess but I bet a lot of these companies unfortunately don’t make it to year 5.
Marketing is changing. Your mission is powerful and you want to build a tribe around your businesses, because it matters. Marketing can be transparent, relational, genuine, inspiring, and bring out the best version of your audience to fuel your business now and into the future.
How do you do this you ask? I’ll lay out 3 simple yet powerful ways we can best develop trust and positive relationships with our audience. Disclaimer: If you’re looking for how to get quick sales this is not it. Building trust takes time and being creative in your marketing will set you apart but it can truly be the difference to a sustainable, engaged brand that is continually attracting and retaining the right customers and clients.
1. Treat your audience like the humans they are.
I know I know, ground breaking. Take a look at any of the copy you’ve written for your business or interactions you’ve had and read them out loud like you’re talking to someone across from you. Does it sound like you? Does it sound like something you’d say to a new friend or even a good friend? With any new relationship, you wouldn’t go right out and talk about how great you are for 5 minutes (at least I hope you wouldn’t), invite them over to your house that day, or ask them their deepest darkest secrets. These seem to be the extremes we use in marketing.
It’s not about you. When it comes to communicating to your audience, it’s not about you. Like I mentioned earlier, we are all wired for survival so primitively we as the question, “what’s in it for us” to almost everything without even realizing. Earn the right to be in relationship with your audience by being of service to them in all sorts of free ways. Then focus your communication on specifically how they can move toward being the best version of themselves by using your product or service. If you wholeheartedly believe in your offering, which you should, then straight tell them how their lives will be better with you it it. It’s then in their hands to make the decision for themselves.
Really learn who your ideal customer is. This is a whole other blog post to unpack but here are some questions to ask outside of just demographics.
What are her interests?
What are her goals and dreams?
How does she want to feel in her life?
When does she feel like the best version of herself?
When is she the most motivated?
What is worrying her?
What’s stopping her from achieving her goals?
Where does she like to hang out online and offline?
How does she like to consume her information?
Who does she trust?
Build an avatar for your ideal customer and put it in front of you before you go to communicate with her in any way.
2. The customer journey does not end at the sale
So many companies drop off the relationship completely after the sale. How rude! (Stephanie Tanner anyone?) This is where the real relationship starts and can go to another level to set you apart as a business that will sustain all the changes that will inevitably come.
If you don’t have many customers yet, perfect you get to start building your tribe in the best way possible but even if you do have customers spilling in (congratulations by the way!) you can get started building out your customer journey right away.
Start by simply sending out an email a couple weeks after purchase asking how things are going. Show them you care about them, you want them a part of your tribe, and thank them for investing in you! These are your people now, treat them like it. You don’t have to have fancy software to collect feedback, reviews, images, etc. Just insert this line into your email, “Don’t be shy to hit the reply button to this email with any feedback, I’d love to hear how things are going for you!” - It can be as simple as that to get started.
Some other tips for taking care of your customer after the sale would be to incentivize for sharing a review or sharing the company with their friends and family. You are not devaluing your brand by giving promo codes and freebies to your existing customers - they have already purchased from you, take care of them like you would your bff. Here are some ideas to get you thinking:
Send them a coupon for 15% off one for them + one to share with a friend
Set up an affiliate program
Build a rewards program
Provide special promo codes to your favorite brands you collaborate with and pair well with your business outside of your industry.
Provide 10% off all services for the next year for referring someone that works with you.
3. Get creative and stand out
The opposite emotions to fear would be joy, happiness, humor, love and they have the same effect at realizing adrenaline to heighten senses in a positive way. Plus it automatically sparks that first layer of trust with you. When a company communicates in a really clever way that makes you laugh or smirk or just feel a tingle of joy (cue Marie Kondo) you will remember the way they made you feel and it creates a bond.
If you are talking to everyone you are talking to one. You’ve probably heard this before but so have I and I still struggle with getting super specific with communication to my ideal customer. Don’t be afraid to offend someone who is NOT your person, if you’re trying to please everyone you will be tuned out. Get creative to communicate in a way when your person hears it they think, “yes, that is so me.”
Here’s an exercise to help: Write down all the commonly used words in your industry or ones you use a lot. These words feel overused, repetitive and probably ones you feel like you ‘should’ be using. These are words that your audience is tuning out because everyone is saying them. Across from those words, think of a metaphor or another less familiar word that evokes more of a feeling and gets the same idea across. Rethink your phrasing and play around with your message in a new way. Tip: get off social media to do this because chances are you are subconsciously wanting to sound like someone you follow.
“No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else.” - P.T. Barnum
Let’s build positive relationships with our people so we’ll be in that 56% at year 5. And let’s make that number even higher. Share these ideas with your communities of entrepreneurs, they aren’t ground breaking but they will make the difference to a more positive world all around.
Stay positive out there.