Don’t you just hate sleazy marketing? Manipulation, coercion, fear-based tactics—ug. It’s enough to give marketing a bad name. So let’s explore how to do authentic, effective marketing. Because it can be done.
In one of our recent webinars, business coach Diane Whiddon explained how to do non-sleazy sales and marketing. She talks about how to actually make marketing fun—to the point where you don’t even realize you’re marketing. And to summarize: That’s how you do authentic, effective marketing. Watch the webinar for in-depth details, but we’ll give a quick overview.
What Makes Marketing Effective?
We know people hate sleazy marketing. Duh. So what makes authentic, effective marketing?
You can often tell it’s authentic because it speaks right to you. There’s a feeling of being heard, engaged, and seen. You’re not dismissed or bowled over with too much information. You feel a connection.
That happens because you trust the person. They’ve said something that resonates with you, and you find yourself nodding your head and saying, “Yeah, that’s it!”
What’s happening is that these authentic, effective marketers have identified your pain or your struggle and offered a solution. Because they’ve been able to name that struggle in a way that connects, you trust them, and you’re willing to listen to their solution.
Their solution isn’t just a pie-in-the-sky promise, there’s a foundation of trust there.
The Difference: Intention
So what’s the difference between sleazy and authentic? It’s about intention.
People can see a gross, sleazy sales pitch coming a mile away. The intention is to mislead, to coerce, to railroad someone with facts and figures until they give in and buy.
Intent isn’t always obvious, but as we’ve become savvier, we start to pick up on intention more quickly. Marketing starts to become transparent, and consumers can tell.
Maybe a marketing approach isn’t sleazy and gross, but it’s apathetic. A telemarketer is just going through the motions, reading the script and putting in the hours. Most of us can see right through that. The intention is obvious—that salesperson doesn’t care about the product or even the struggle you’re going through. They just want to make their calls and get paid.
Contrast that with a salesperson who cares. They’re excited and passionate because they believe what they’re selling works. They know it works. And they want you to know it too. That enthusiasm is infectious. The intention is obvious, and you’re willing to trust that person.
How to Do Authentic, Effective Marketing
OK, so how do you actually do this. We’ve hinted at the process before, but here it is simply:
- Identify with their pain.
- Say it’s possible to fix.
- Offer the solution.
1. Identify With Their Pain
The first step in the process is the most important. The rest won’t work if this one isn’t done right. You have to identify with their pain or struggle. You have to show you get it. Whatever the problem or challenge is your product or service can fix, you have to show that you intimately understand it. You’ve been there. You know the pain. You understand the problem.
Once you can show this, you immediately establish trust.
Yes! They get me.
That’s the reaction people have when you do this right.
Struggle vs. Specifics
Let’s take a moment to unpack this. People don’t identify with the specifics of what you offer. They don’t care that you know WordPress or can code a beautiful site. They don’t care about plugins or themes or HTML or PHP. Those are the specifics of what you offer.
People identify with the struggle.
They want to update a website now without waiting for a coder to do it. They need to be in control of their web presence. They’re sick of worrying about updates breaking their site. This is the pain they’re dealing with. These are the struggles.
That’s what matters to them, and if you can speak to that, you’ll connect.
[pullquote]The specifics of what you offer don’t matter nearly as much as connecting with them over their struggle.[/pullquote]
How to Identify With Pain
So how do you do that? There are two effective strategies:
Ask questions designed to get people to say yes.
- Do you worry about your website crashing or being hacked?
- Are you afraid you won’t be able to get your site updated?
- Are you overwhelmed by the responsibilities of running a website?
These can sound like cheesy questions—if these aren’t your struggles. But if these are your issues, they resonate.
Tell a vivid story that illustrates the pain.
I had a small business that sold widgets through our website. I was terrified a new update would break something and I wouldn’t be able to fix it. I would stay up late researching things I didn’t understand. I spent too much time on a website and not enough time on the widgets I actually sold.
It’s a simple story, but it paints a picture of the struggle your potential clients face, and that’s something they’ll recognize.
2. Say It’s Possible to Fix
This step is really simple. It can be a single sentence.
All you’re doing is telling people that change is possible. Whatever struggle they have or pain they’re experiencing, you’re simply telling them there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
You want to offer a simple statement that can help push them out of focusing on their pain:
- It doesn’t have to be that way.
- You can change.
- It gets better.
3. Offer the Solution
Now you’re going to explain your solution. You’ve already built trust, so they’re willing to listen.
This is where you can get into the specifics of your solution. But remember it still needs to connect with their struggle, so don’t just offer a list of features. Talk about how it benefits them, how it will change their lives and make things better.
Remember features are what something does: A timer on a coffee maker.
Benefits are why that matters: You can get 10 more minutes of sleep.
The key here is that you shouldn’t need to convince them. You’re just saying what you do. And they trust you because you understand their struggle.
3 More Tips for Authentic, Effective Marketing
An important detail about authentic, effective marketing is reaching the right audience. Not everybody has the same struggle. When you identify with people’s pain, that’s a very specific audience. You want to reach those who have the same struggle and get it—and nobody else.
Don’t worry about people who don’t have that struggle. They’re not your audience. Trying to reach them will be a waste of time because you won’t connect. And trying to force that connection to work will likely fail.
Just know that your audience is out there and by talking about their struggle, you’ll naturally find the right people. The wrong people won’t connect, and they’ll move on.
This Should Be Fun
What makes authentic, effective marketing so great is it’s all based on your passion. You’ll know you’re doing this right if it’s fun and easy for you. You should love it. This is what you’re passionate about. You want to help people through that struggle. You know that pain so well, you have a remedy, and now you just want to share that with everyone who needs it.
You can’t shut up about it.
You’ll find yourself talking about it at cocktail parties because it’s what you love, not because you’re doing some networking chitchat.
[pullquote]The best marketing is when you’re just telling your story. You care, so you talk about it. You can’t help but tell people.[/pullquote]
If you find yourself focused on your marketing out of fear or you’re trying to force yourself to identify with their pain, then you’re not going to connect. It needs to come naturally.
A final thing to know about authentic, effective marketing is people make decisions based on emotions, not intellect. We may rally lots of facts and logic, but people will often respond with, “But that doesn’t feel right.” The emotional part of our brain is where we make decisions. Simon Sinek goes into more details on this concept in his TED Talk.
The key is to tap into those emotions.
Now, this does not mean emotional manipulation. That’s not authentic or effective.
But it means honestly exploring those emotions. Identifying with someone’s pain is tapping into the emotions they have surrounding that struggle. Some intellectual facts may be helpful, but it’s ultimately an emotional decision.
It’s About Why, Not What
Look at your marketing efforts and see if you’re including any of these tactics. See if you’re identifying with people’s pain and how well you’re emotionally connecting with them. Start applying these principles and tweaking (or completely overhauling) your web copy, your email responses, your elevator pitch, etc.
Finally, remember this is about intention. It’s about what drives you. As Simon Sinek said in his TED Talk:
“They don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”