Why we no longer live in a hard sell world.

“But how do you expect to sell anything if you’re not asking for the sale, Fabianne?”

WELL, there is a difference between presenting your product or service in a way that people who actually need it are aware of its benefits (a.k.a. marketing) as opposed to trying to close on their very first interaction with you. It’s even worse when they do it over social media. It’s not that much different from the banner and pre-roll ads that get in the way of content you actually want to see.

They’re the ones who treat social media like it is a cold call, as if we’re in an era where people had no other choice. Cold calls are alright, but it’s different if you’re doing it on social. The logic makes sense at first, we make phone calls to communicate, so since social media is another tool to communicate, the exact tactics still apply right?

What a lot of companies fail to consider is how much the world has changed since then. Social media has introduced a way for people to spend time doing things they actually want to do, related to what they’re actually interested in. Companies think they can still finesse their way to people’s attention. It was easier to make people pay attention to your commercial when people didn’t have these magic squares that did stuff.

People would rather choose to watch a 10 minute video about how “Bay Area people be like” or scroll through pages of memes rather than spend three seconds glancing at an image you used as a print out flyer about how great your powerwashing service is.

These platforms are designed to attract attention. It’s not designed to steal attention.

Yes, people will throw down clickbait titles and yes, there will be people who will click on them. However, we are living in a world where people are growing more aware of this and are progressively getting savvy enough to learn how to avoid it. Even if it has a clickbait title, if the content in the article is actually good, then you’ll get those coveted Facebook shares you wanted anyway. But if you clickbait someone and the content doesn’t deliver, you’re royally fucked.

Through tools at our disposal like the powerful targeting Facebook’s ad platform offers, it allows us be in front of our ideal consumer. What companies don’t see is how much freedom you have to tell your story in full, to share information complementary to your products without expecting a quick buck.

Even when people throw dollars in a Facebook ad or two, it’s usually some stock photo paired with a vague slogan that doesn’t even talk about what the product actually does. So of course social media doesn’t work for them because they’re not even respecting what it means to storytell in a native way.

And that’s what the key is in social, you STORYTELL.

Storytelling is NOT:

  • …witholding information by posting your blog’s cover image as an Instagram post to drive traffic to your hard-sell optimized website.
  • …engaging with people just to tell them to buy your product.
  • …telling people to schedule a demo with a salesman before you even know what the product DOES.

I gotta give a lot of love for serial entrepreneur and investor, Gary Vaynerchuk. When I read his book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook back in 2013, it affirmed a lot of the feelings I have on social media because he’s smart enough to know that for the very first time, we are living in a world where pull marketing is now a thing. Whereas marketing before social media has been trying to PUSH you to buy.

With new generations rapidly becoming jaded by the fact that they are being sold to everywhere they go, it takes that savvy company who knows what their potential buyers actually care about and cater to it through content to break through the noise.

There was a video snippet (below) I saw from one of Gary’s keynotes where an audience member asked for a shoutout after GaryVee just finished the last hour talking about how companies treat their marketing like they’re 19 year old dudes at a club, trying to close on the first transaction. That guy from the audience did the 19 year old dude move, which meant a “big fucking no” from Gary. The 19 year old dude move is hard-selling in a nutshell.

As opposed to BRANDING which is the gravitas of who you are, it’s your reputation and the innate value you bring to the table. Being a company who practices pull marketing with no hard-sell is like being the self-affirmed man who is secure about who they are, always willing to help you out, but expects nothing thing in return. Who would you rather be in a long-term relationship with?

It’s shocking how many people think these tactics are the best methods for success. With a “law of averages” type of logic, they can be tricked to thinking the few yeses they get out of probability justifies the same hard-sell methods they’ve been doing for years. They take it as anecdotal evidence that their way is actually THE WAY.

How many yeses are you leaving on the table though? In addition, your spammy practices will likely turn A LOT of people off so you’re getting negative branding on top of it, but I’m not sure how much you actually care about brand if you’re spamming everyone anyway, so it might be a moot point.

As a marketing consultant myself, I value branding more than the hard sell, so you won’t see me going up to people (in digital and real life) immediately asking them if they are looking for marketing services without even showing any interest about who they are. I’m not a hard sell type of person so I’m not comfortable asking for their money straight out the gate. What I do focus on is building the relationship by thinking about what I can do for THEM first. I listen to what their company is all about and give them as much free advice as possible.

I don’t do this from a place of expecting a short-term sale, but from a place that realizes shit is broken in the industry, saturated with short-term and out of touch thinking. I do what I can to help fix this by spreading these ideas and telling companies how they can execute on these ideas whether they choose to hire me or not.

The tl;dr is if you’re trying to sell stuff on these platforms, you need to do something to earn that attention. Something that would entertain or help your audience, or both. NOT spam them with half-assed copy and creative. I know it sounds counter-intuitive to not focus on the short-term dollars, but there is more upside if you are a brand that is actively helping people.

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Feel free to keep in touch with me on:

Twitter (random snippets of my thoughts in marketing, music, and everything else in between).

Instagram (selfies, music, and moody pictures/videos of my life).

SoundCloud (when I’m not marketing, I’m spitting bars).

If you want a taste of what my day-by-day grind is like, peep my vlog HUSTLE DAILY.

HUSTLE DAILY is a video blog series documenting my adventure around my two greatest passions, marketing and music. I encourage all my clients to document their day-by-day hustle as a source for micro-content like video snippets and blog posts. This vlog is simply a way for me to practice what I preach.

Front of the Bell Curve offers a variety of digital marketing services for small businesses and startups including social media advertising, media planning and production, search engine optimization, and content marketing.