The Art of Selling Without Selling
No one wants to see a sales brochure.
Nobody opens emails they know is going to sell them something.
Everyone hates getting an unsolicited sales call while they’re eating dinner.
People don’t like being “sold.” They probably never did, but in today’s world of spam filters, ad blockers and caller ID, it’s even easier for people to ignore a sales pitch.
People are busy, living their own lives, dealing with their own problems, and securing their finances. No matter how much a business owner believes their product or service will solve the world’s problems, it probably won’t; and people don’t have the time or interest to be told how much better their life will be if they spend their time or money.
The sooner businesses accept this reality, the sooner we as a business community can come together and find better ways to “sell.”
The Answer is Content Marketing
It’s the art of selling, without selling.
Content marketing is the creation and sharing of interesting, valuable or relevant content, for free.
That’s right; it’s just given away, for free.
“Free” is the most beautiful word in the world to every consumer. It’s also the most hated word for every business owner. But businesses stay in business because of consumers, not because of business owners.
No consumers means no business, so if consumers want free, then free is what they should get.
Not Just Any Kind of Free
The idea isn’t to give away products or services for free, but rather to share valuable content. This content can be:
- A blog which provides insights to a specific industry or market.
- A case study, or white paper, with valuable data findings discovered through research.
- An entertaining video that makes viewers laugh.
Not all content needs to be serious; some of it can be fun. The types of content that should be created are catered to the target audience.
Know the audience. Be the audience.
Every Company Needs to Be a Media Company
They’re all media companies.
These companies, and plenty of others, are media companies in addition to their primary business. These brands create and share content that goes viral, and is enjoyed by more people than actually buy their products.
But convincing every person that views their content to buy their product isn’t their goal. Instead, these companies focus on building brand awareness and creating positive brand images. These companies have a customer-focused content marketing strategy.
In return, these brands have some of the most loyal customers, and fans, in the world.
The reason is because they’ve provided free value to their audience, and in return only asked for them to tell a friend, or consider them the next time they make a purchase.
The Lego Movie was incredibly popular, and didn’t ask a single audience member to buy a Lego set; but because they created an entertaining and humorous movie, people went out and bought Legos anyway.
While most companies don’t have the resources to match what these brands are doing, the strategy still works for small and medium sized businesses as well. Create interesting content, and share it with people that may find it valuable; and then do it again, and again.
But Don’t Just Believe Me
I’m not breaking any new ground here with this blog, and the concept of companies becoming media companies has long been discussed in the marketing world.
Take a look at a few articles I believe explain it best:
- Why Every Company is a Media Company @ Mashable
- How Every Brand Became A Media Company @ Forbes
- Why Every Company (Yes, Even Yours) Should Be a Media Company@ RocketFuel
- Every Company is a Media Company @ ZDNet
The Competition is (Almost) Infinite
The internet is filled with content. The options to be informed and entertained are nearly infinite. Not only are brands competing with other brands in their industry, they’re competing with brands in other industries, along with people’s friends and family.
There are countless websites, platforms and applications which compete for people’s attention. Even within each of these exist a vast array of competitors.
On social media and email inboxes, brand messages can appear above pictures of a family member, and below an ad for a Fortune 500 Company.
The goal is to stand out, find a niche, and share something interesting. To do this, the amount, and quality, of content must continue to increase and improve. For businesses to stand out, they must create content quickly, regularly, and effectively.
This is why every company needs to become a media company.
In Other Words…
“Whether you like it or not, every person is now a media company. The tools are easy, free, and everywhere. More importantly, producing content is now the BASELINE for all brands and companies. It literally doesn’t matter what business you’re in, what industry you operate in, if you’re not producing content, you basically don’t exist. So what’s your excuse?” – Gary Vaynerchuk
“It doesn't matter if a company makes network gear or diapers, every company needs to publish to its various communities, its customers, its staff, it's neighbors. It needs to know how to produce compelling content, great video, podcasts, etc. And now with this emerging two-way Internet it also needs to learn how to listen.” – Tom Foremski