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Why You Should Serve, Not Sell

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Why You Should Serve, Not Sell

Social media is an increasingly dominant medium for modern communication.

According to facts from the Pew Research Center and the Hootsuite Social Media Barometer Report 2018:

  • There are now 3.196 billion people using social media (up 13% from last year)
  • 11 new people start using social media each second, which is about one million people every day
  • 88 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds say they use social media
  • The total number of mobile phone users is 5.14 billion (up 4% from last year), which means people are increasing in their social media accessibility

As you look to grow your digital reach in conjuction with your print campaigns, social media is an obvious choice to feature ads, products, and (let’s be honest), to feature yourself!

But, how well does this go over with consumers? Not swimmingly.

Take a quick scan through the business posts you see online. How would you best summarize these? Does the content bring an encouraging word to you, the reader? Or do the majority of these posts seem narcissistic?

Bruce Kasanoff, author of “How to Self-Promote without Being a Jerk,” summarizes it like this:

“Two-thirds or more of the business posts I see on social media can be summarized in one word: Me. They are all about the person or company that shared the post: what they are selling, what they want, what they did. Yawn. Pause. Where’s the unfollow button?”

Instead, Kasanoff coaches entrepreneurs to embrace this mantra: serve, don’t sell. Intrinsically, people respond to those who approach them in a friendly, helpful manner. Social media is no different. When you take a self-centered or pushy tone it is a turnoff, whether you’re sharing online or in person. In contrast, everything you share on social media should offer a benefit to those on the receiving end. Kasanoff gives this example:

“Imagine that you are delivering a webinar in Chicago, and you share this news via social media. Don’t just say, ‘Come to my seminar.’ There are a ton of people who don’t live in Chicago or will be busy that day, so they can’t come. Instead, offer a lesson related to your seminar, and then say, ‘By the way, if you’re going to be in Chicago next Tuesday, I’ll be talking about this and related lessons.’ Thus, members of your network benefit even if they can’t do what you want them to do.”

Grow Influence Through “You-Centered” Communication

Living in the information age, people have grown increasingly resistant to interruption marketing, or “in-your-face,” one-way communication.

Instead, they crave engagement marketing: brand-consumer relationships built on trust and mutual respect. The foundation of this trust is thoughtful communication specifically tailored to the consumer’s needs. Effective communicators make the audience believe that the most important person in their correspondence – in their business relationship – is "you," the consumer.

The key to successful communication is to make the reader feel – in every memo, letter, printed piece, or social media post – that the most important person is the reader.

Consider this contrast:

Option A: “Pixie Dust Cleaners brings a dazzling deep clean, offering eco-friendly products at the best possible price.”

Option B: “Looking for freedom from chaos? Pixie Dust Cleaners gives you a dazzling deep clean, with eco-friendly products that allow you to take a deep breath and enjoy every minute at home. Your peace of mind is worth every penny!

Before you communicate, ask yourself what your audience needs, wants, or values. Consider what is most important to them and try to personalize your correspondence or social media posts to these felt needs. As you produce more customer-centered communication, you will grow sales, enrich your reputation, and enhance the well-being of your business.

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