How to Market without Sounding Like a Marketer
As any creative business owner knows, if you don’t tell the others you won’t sell your work. While being the best is important, it’s not enough.
‘The best’ is a baseline—the starting gate.
You can be the best in the world l, standing in an empty room. But if no one knows your work exists, have you really created a business?
So, how do we market without ‘marketing?’ How do we sell without sounding like a total dirt-ball? How do we tell the others in a way they want to be told?
The answer is simple.
The execution of the answer, is art.
Have Something to Say
We start with a reason why—the purpose of our business. The reason we get up in the morning. If we don’t have anything of value to say, the best we can do is push coupons and discounts.
You already know those businesses.
They don’t last long.
Creative businesses that thrive have something to say. There’s a story behind the work.
A good story sent about the product, it’s about the person behind the product—your customer as the hero. We all want to be the hero of our own story.
When you have something to say the transaction is no longer about the product. The transaction is about the story the customer wants to represent.
We Take a Stand
Good marketing takes a stand. You show the world ‘I make stuff for these people, but not for anyone else.’
You show that you’re all-in for your tribe. And only your tribe.
While others can come along for the ride, you don’t create for them. When you take a stand you plant a flag in the ground.
- Maybe you’re a contrarian amd you challenge the common wisdom
- Maybe you stand for a certain industry or profession and no one else
- Maybe you try to repel those you don’t serve, cementing relationships with those you do (look at politics)
When we take a stand, all our content is based around this idea—your flag in the ground. Those who are with you will follow you. Those who aren’t will leave.
Build a Tribe
Your flag-planting content builds a tribe. At the bottom of every piece of content you invite people inside for more.
If someone likes your article they can also join your email list. Once inside, this is where the magic happens.
When we build a group of the people we serve, we’ve got a direct hotline to reach them.
Email is the great equalizer. You’ve got just as much right to your customer’s in-box as the biggest names in the marketplace.
With email—when done right—you have a simple conversation with the reader. You give her content that helps her get what she wants.
As part of the content you make sales offers in a non-pushy way.
Market Without Marketing
If you don’t want to turn readers off with pushy sales tactics, there’s a better way.
Great marketing is just a conversation between two people. You, as the teller, give valuable information to the reader.
- You don’t talk down to her
- You don’t say “buy my stuff!”
- You don’t fire-hose the reader with sales messages
Instead, you market without marketing.
We love to buy things. We want goods in our lives that represent an extension of who we are. The problem is we hate to feel sold, or taken advantage of.
When you market without marketing you help your reader in advance of the sale.
She can use the information you give, to help her situation, even if she doesn’t buy your work.
We Monetize the Power of Story
Stories resonate better than any other form of communication. We are wired to respond well to stories.
A well-told story is experienced by the reader.
Our brains react. We feel the emotions. Like a vivid dream, as the audience, we connect with the story by putting ourselves in the shoes of the protagonist.
- What if this happened to me?
- Hey, I have that same problem!
- I don’t want that to happen to my family
Lead your emails with stories.
Collect stories from your own life. I use a running Google doc. You can repeat the same story multiple ways.
Even mundane moments of your life are food for great stories. The more stories you collect, the more you’ll remember.
Keep a running list of a simple synopsis of each story. When you retell them your memory will fill in the rest.
To monetise a story, first decide the purpose of your email. If you want to sell a book or product, get a click, or encourage a reply.
Once you know the purpose, choose a story that will encourage a certain behavior from your reader.
For example, let’s say you want your reader to buy your book about eliminating bad dog behaviors.
You open the email with a personal, embarrassing story about how your dog barks so loud it repels children from ringing your bell on Halloween.
You explain how you tried everything hit nothing worked.
…until you found the solution.
You then give a little free piece of training in your email. Something the reader can try herself, for free.
You then close the email with, “if that barking tip helped your dog, you might also enjoy the 52 other strategies I teach in my book. Click here to find out more.”
No pushy selling.
You identify potential customers up-front. You entertain them with a story and prove you can help them by actually helping them, before they give you money.
Then, you ask for a click to your sales page of the reader wants more info.
Teach and Entertain
We are all busy. We don’t want to waste our time reading content that doesn’t benefit us in some way, or transform our current condition.
Instead of sending a dry, boring email filed with facts, try entertaining and teaching together. We call this infotainment.
Entertainers and athletes are paid the most for a reason.
We value entertainment. We don’t like to be taught or lectured to. Look at the wages of movie stars compared to teachers.
While the teacher has 1,000X more value than the movie star, her approach is not as exciting as the entertainer’s.
Infotainment bridges both worlds.
We can teach and entertain using the power of stories. Start with a compelling story and wrap your teaching lesson inside it.
You’ve got our attention and we learned something from the experience.
It’s likely we’ll return tomorrow for more.
Make More Offers
The more offers you make the more you’ll sell. It’s a basic marketing maxim.
However, using the power of story and infotainment, you can make the same offer repeatedly without feeling like marketing to your reader.
All you ask is that your reader clicks the link for more information. Or clicks to check out your product for a deeper-dive.
If you share valuable content with each connection, and you do so in a conversational way—it’s likely she’ll open your email tomorrow.
- Write like you speak to a friend over coffee
- Write to one person at one time, even though you broadcast one to many
- Write in an upbeat and optimistic way, so readers feel good once they consume your content
- Always ask for a response at the end (click, sale, reply, or survey)
When you take a friendly, conversational approach to your marketing, readers will appreciate it.
Remember, they want to buy your stuff. They understand it’s a commercial relationship (and you are not their mother).
All the reader wants is respect for her attention. If you never take your reader’s attention for granted she’ll reward you with more attention in the future.
Tell the Truth
The fastest way to alienate a reader is to trick her once. You can fool almost anyone once, but she won’t return for a second helping.
We want to create lifetime customers. Don’t make bigger promises than you can fulfill. Don’t lie about your products or trick your readers into buying things they don’t need.
Be honest with your intentions. If you’re having a deep-sale so you can pay for much-needed car repairs, say so in your marketing.
If you want your readers to buy your book so you can earn bestseller status, tell them.
The more you open the door the more you earn your readers’ trust. Honesty is a breath of fresh air.
We know you’re in this to make money off your hard work. We infer that from your communication with us. What we didn’t expect was for you to tell us the truth in your marketing.
- The truth doesn’t have to be obnoxious or rediculous
- The truth doesn’t have to be vulnerable
- When you make your intentions visible the readers let’s her guard down
You want your audience to trust you—to bring into their fold. The next time you send them more content, not only will they be more-likely to open it, they’ll get another opportunity to buy.
Marketing doesn’t have to feel like marketing. You can have honest, valuable conversations with readers, while still presenting them with offers.
When you stay in regular communication your product remains top of mind and your sales will increase because of it.
August Birch is an author, email expert, and entrepreneur from Michigan, USA. As a self-appointed guardian of writers and creators, August teaches indies how to make more work that sells and sell more work once it’s made. When he’s not writing or teaching, August carries a pocket knife and shaves his head with a safety razor.