How to sell without being slimy

Mark Drever
Brand Identity & Creative

We’ve all been guilty of it. Shamelessly plugging a product or service, spamming strangers with affiliate links for a commission or discount and stopping just short of screaming ‘buy the damn product!’ While these can all work, they leave you feeling a little dirty on the inside and a sour taste in your mouth. This is partly because you’re asking people to buy something they may not necessarily need or want, and partly because your audience can often see right through it and you can quickly alienate them and even worse, cause them to unsubscribe from your mailing list or unfollow your channels on social media.

So how do you sell without being slimy?

Selling is not telling customers what to do. It’s inspiring them to solve a problem or help them find what they’re looking for. Help others without expectations. Act in their best interests.

This could be a bakery business providing a simple recipe to someone on their facebook page asking how to make a baked orange cheesecake, or a real estate agent providing tips on how to prepare your home for auction day.

You can build a brand without getting in people’s faces. Ask questions and listen. Answer them insightfully. It’s all in the details. By solving their problem, you demonstrate competence, trustworthiness and empathy. You are clearly a voice of authority on the subject, and you’re showing that you care enough about your audience to help each one of them individually. It’s this kind of behavior that builds a strong foundation for the future, and keeps your business at the front of their mind the next time they’re looking for a product or service you can provide. It’s honest and subtle - the complete opposite to traditional sales and marketing. And this type of advertising won’t cost you a thing, other than a few moments of your time. This isn’t to say that you should abandon traditional advertising completely, but it’s something to think about when adjusting your advertising strategy. Particularly in the current state of the economy.

If they find value in what you’re providing, they’ll eventually give back.

This isn’t a zero-sum situation. Just because your customers are finding value in what you’re providing with nothing expected in return, doesn’t mean it won’t eventually come full circle. This is called the law of reciprocity. They will be more willing to favour you over your competitors in the future, and will also be more willing to recommend your services to people in their circle.

Be the brand you’d want to buy from.

Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Would you buy from your brand? If you realise something you’ve been doing unknowingly is creating friction, take a step back and adjust your language. Test and refine your message until it aligns with your brand and its values.

Does your business need a solution like this?

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