Marketing has changed drastically over the years. What worked before as aggressive selling is now frowned upon because the world’s social etiquette has also changed. Buyers tend to get turned off when a company or salesperson approaches them with an aggressive sales pitch.
The result is that businesses and salespeople now have to figure out less “pushy” ways to approach clients. Research has helped marketers understand that “soft” selling is far more effective than a hard pitch. These 15 experts from Forbes Agency Council share several proven tips for businesses looking to put less pressure on their buyers while still closing those sales.
1. Look To Your Brand Values And Mission
Instead of selling, look to your brand values and mission. Educate potential customers on your brand and product, make it simple for them to transact, and empower them to share the brand story with their friends. – Samir Balwani, Methods & Metrics
2. Demonstrate Your Value
Demonstrating value and then letting the customer make their own decision works well in the current climate. As long as you have a valuable product or service, marketing and sales shouldn’t be an issue — just don’t get pushy. – Erik Huberman, Hawke Media
3. Personalize Features And Benefits
Consumers are deeply interested in info on new goods and services as long as what’s advertised is relevant to them. Personalizing features and benefits that connect with their needs or interests will mitigate any perception of the ad as being too aggressive. Limit retargeting and use a tone that is fact-based, allowing more consideration on the part of the customer rather than heavy emotional push. – Matt Ramerman, Sinch Engage
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4. Start From The Outcome For Customers
The conversation must begin with the outcome. What’s in it for your customer? How will their life improve after interacting with you? Show that you understand their pain point, and you can relieve it or eliminate it altogether. That promise, once fulfilled, builds satisfaction and repeat business. People do business with people — we can’t forget that! – Lynne Golodner, Your People LLC
5. Utilize A Layered Approach
As marketers, our strategies must evolve alongside the consumers’ resistance to our techniques. An example of a “soft” marketing strategy would be utilizing a layered approach. Start by pushing out an ad set via social media that educates, provides value or entertains the audience. In return, ask for nothing but an email. With that email, retarget with a more direct ad set down the road. – Garrett Atkins, VIE Media
6. Tell A Story That Illustrates Authenticity
We believe people connect with brands on a human level. It sounds easy to say but truly identifying the salient touchpoints of a brand is important work. In every case, authenticity is unique and people always connect to it. So, tell the brand story that illustrates authenticity. It can be the founder’s story, testimonials, use cases, but no matter what, people need to see themselves in your story. – Jason Fishman, Digital Niche Agency (DNA)
7. Leverage Customer Testimonials
People like to see how others have had success with products and services. (Look no further than Amazon reviews!) Our clients have seen the value of customer success stories that highlight the problems that users previously had and the benefits they found from using our clients’ products/services. Customer testimonials are the best way to showcase benefits without a hard sell from the company. – Katy Boos, Remix Marketing Inc.
8. Follow Google’s Creative ABCDs
Google offers sage advice to advertisers in their creative ABCDs that can drive effective, consumer sensitive pitches. Attraction, Branding, Connection and Direction are key to delivering an experience that fulfills both brand and consumer goals. Be natural, forge emotional connections, tell stories and be open with consumers — these are all lessons that always apply when pitching consumers. – Tony Chen, Channel Factory
9. Conduct A ‘Why’ Campaign
Conduct a “why” campaign. Don’t sell. Just show what you care about and hope that the right consumer will resonate with it. Also, hope that the consumer will find it authentic. Create a grassroots plan for it instead of big media. Comment in forums and blogs, one at a time. Be sure to run into seekers of the truth behind your brand’s existence and fist-bump them without making a big fuss about it. – Kashif Zaman, Pivyt
10. Leverage Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing is both a low-pressure approach to marketing and an incredibly effective approach. What I love most about inbound marketing is the way it prioritizes customers, putting them and their needs, concerns and aspirations at the center of every marketing effort. By talking with customers about their interests instead of to them about your products, you can generate stunning results. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative
11. Create Evergreen Content
Evergreen content creation is key to this. It’s a non-intrusive, uniquely informative, fully user-driven experience that leads them to the answers they want and closer to buying from you. If you can lead them in and give them value without making too much of an ask, but then solve their pain points well, you can usually win their business. – Sean Smith, SimpleTiger LLC
12. Use Marketing Automation
Use marketing automation to drip your customers the right content, when they need it. Review your customer’s purchase path and set up different journeys that take them from awareness to consideration to purchase to loyalty. Throughout the journey, give your customers an opportunity to raise their hand to be contacted by sales. Customers will be more qualified and ready to engage. – Andrew Au, Intercept Group
13. Have A Solid Funnel Marketing Strategy
A well-planned funnel marketing strategy is the answer. Design your marketing campaign in at least three phases — awareness, consideration and conversion. Have your prospective customers interact with your brand, filter out the users who find your product or service irrelevant, identify and target the only ones who show interest in the consideration phase with an appropriate sales offer. – Ajay Prasad, GMR Web Team
14. Partner With Influencers
Influencers are a great way to seamlessly communicate your brand message without sounding aggressive. Followers keep a close eye on their favorite influencers, love to observe them and trust their opinion as much as real-world friends. By partnering with an influencer, you have a trustworthy voice speaking directly with your target audience, allowing you to communicate your message authentically. – Emilie Tabor, IMA – Influencer Marketing Agency
15. Tap In Your Brand Advocates
Tap in your brand advocates for low-pressure and effective marketing. Brand advocates are consumers who are already using your product; they like your product and are willing to share their love for your brand with others. When consumers hear your brand story from consumer brand advocates, they are more likely to engage with and believe the message, as opposed to traditional brand marketing. – Aliza Freud, SheSpeaks, Inc.