I bet every single day there’s an email lands in your inbox from a company you were interested in, and it’s trying to sell you something.
Am I right?
There’s probably a whole bunch of them. Every single day. Buy this now. Today’s discount. Don’t miss out. Limited stocks. Time’s nearly up.
You know the type of thing.
What does it make them seem?
We’re all desperate
I know, it’s been a tough year. Nothing has gone to plan. We’ve got to get on and be selling to catch up.
But people can detect even a whiff of desperation, which then undermines their confidence in what you do. Confidence is the step to trust, and people, for the majority of the time, buy from people they trust.
So, what if your constant asking for a sale is driving people away from buying from you? What do you do next to make some sales?
Here’s an idea for you.
No, I don’t mean close down your e-commerce and stop answering the phone. Just stop trying to sell to people all the time.
Tell them the other stuff they need to know about what you do. Show them your expertise (because we’re all back to valuing the experts now). Show them how you get stuff done.
Tell them about people you admire, other businesses with values that align with yours. Share the stories of where you’re going and what you’re reading. Tell them what you value and why you’re in business.
Give them stuff they will value.
Then maybe sell them something.
Content is not just about the sale
You might already know that there four types of content in content marketing circles, with four different purposes:
- To entertain
- To inspire
- To educate
- To persuade
Now, you can argue that they are not mutually exclusive, that an entertaining piece might well be inspiring and educational at the same time. But it’s helpful to set off with one purpose in mind. It’s also a guide to checking whether you’re producing all the same kind of content, all focused on making that sale right now.
Your story is about more than just what you sell
I get a daily email from a company I’ve bought from in the past, which I would say is in my circle of consideration for their kind of products. Just not that often.
I rarely open the emails. I maybe just scan them in the preview pane.
I don’t know what made me click on their survey button (probably procrastinating on a deadline). But that survey told me more about that business than I had picked up in months of hearing from them.
- They’re a Pending certified B Corporation
- They give at least 10% of their profits to charity each year
- They’ll take back your old clothing and ensure it’s appropriately recycled
- They’re working on eliminating waste by designing for longevity
- They produce 90% of their products in Europe to minimise their carbon footprint
- Their packaging is plastic-free
- The team is mostly women (nearly 80%), and they have strong support for flexible working
I could go on; there was quite a lot more. The point is, suddenly they’re a lot more interesting to me. Their values and mine are much more aligned than I knew. They’re doing stuff that I admire. I feel good about choosing to shop with them. Next time I’m in the market for what they do, they’re in my top 3 I would say.
So what happened the next day?
They just kept on selling
I mean, I feel better about them, but now I know there’s so much more, I wish they’d tell me more.
There’s a bit more on their website, such as their A to Z of how they run their business. But it feels like it’s a missed opportunity to truly make themselves stand out. To show, not just tell.
What opportunities are you missing not to sell something?
If it’s only ever about the sale, you’re stopping people truly getting to know your business, and what makes it special. The stories that surround you are what makes your business distinctive. And distinctive is pretty much the best we can achieve given that unique is, well, pretty unique.
It might feel counter-intuitive in a challenging climate to say stop selling but think about the high street at Christmas time. It’s a race to the bottom on price, on discounting. Most of those retailers, those retailers that are in trouble, have little else to say to us, little relationship with us beyond price.
Now think about the independent businesses you want to support. You know them, maybe as people, probably a lot more than just a fascia or logo. You’ve probably already decided you’re going to buy from them, it’s only the timing that’s the question.
When you stop selling, it becomes easier to sell
Three out of the four types of content are there to ease you towards a sale, at some point.
Three out of four.
And then, bam. You land the last one.
Someone may or may not buy at that point. But at least you’ve given them the option. You’ve reminded them that you just tell them funny, entertaining, thought-provoking stuff. You actually have something to sell.
You just might have caught them at the wrong time this time. But that might be okay; they still might feel positively towards what you do, because you also give them all this other stuff that they enjoy, maybe even value.
One of these days, your timing will be right. And as a result of what you’ve done already, one email might well be enough.
If you want to see the types of things that fall into the four different content types, and what the customer might want from them, then there’s a helpful graphic in this blog post from StormID. Perhaps have an audit of the things that you currently put out there so you can see which ones you’re doing, and where there’s some opportunities to try different things.
Where’s your gap? And what will you do?
I’d love to know, and you’re not sure, I’m happy to help you find some resources that might help.
Here’s to selling more by selling less.