Tap into the power of anti-selling.

marketing baked into rhubarb pie

Bake the marketing into your offer.

Wouldn’t you love to tap into the strength of powerful marketing materials so you never, ever need to make a cold sales call again?

If you own a solopreneurship or work for a small business or nonprofit, chances are that you don’t have a salesforce working to break down buyer resistance before closing sales. Most likely, you bear a large part of the responsibility of driving revenue by attracting customers, soliciting donations or selling products.

Personally, I am not—and never will be a salesperson. To me, sales is simply gut wrenching. You will never catch me making a cold call, using highlighted or red-lined text in a marketing letter, or chatting up prospects who seem to wish they were somewhere else. It’s antithetical to my personal chemistry.

Selling is difficult. Some people thrive on sales, and that’s great for them—it’s just not for me. But hey, marketing—for me that’s a breeze.

So how do you win over customers without a hard sell?


Modern selling and anti-selling

Although I came around to appreciating science and math later in life, I avoided these classes like the plague while in school. To fulfill the science requirement in college, I enrolled in a course designed for non-scientists entitled “Modern Physics and Anti-Physics.” The term “anti-physics” sounded intriguing, and the title has stuck with me. While I am no longer anti-physics, I remain anti-selling.

When your sales process is anti-selling, your offer needs to be so irresistible that it sells itself. When your offer and your well-crafted marketing materials do all the work, or at least most of the work, all you have to do is deliver a light, soft, honest sell to close the deal.

The fact is, audiences are generally wary of salespeople. The archetypical used car salesman comes to mind — the plaid suit, wide grin and calculated pressure tactics trigger a natural consumer instinct to run the other way. Even polite people have learned to hang up the phone on a telemarketer. Most people no longer have the time or desire to sit through a sales pitch unless they already are convinced they want to buy a particular product or service, often because they have a problem.

Your job is to convince them ahead of time that they need what your product or service, and that your offering trumps others available on the market.


You don’t have to sell.

For years I’ve been telling clients who share my reluctance to sell that, when properly written, designed and implemented, their marketing materials will do 99%-100% of the selling for them. When your marketing plan is functioning correctly, calls will be inbound; no outbound cold calls required. The remaining 1% of the marketing calls are to warm prospects who come via referrals, or are otherwise predisposed to hearing your pitch.

First, don’t think about the sale at all. Consider how your product or service can help others and change the world for the better. Listen to your prospective buyer’s needs and concerns, and embed your marketing strategy into the creation, packaging and delivery of your products or services. Seth Godin calls this “baking” your marketing into the product. Offer solutions with your own unique perspective, twist or passion. Apple Inc. is a perfect example.

Attract prospects with marketing materials that carry a clear, concise message through a well-designed presentation. Your materials should be attractive at first glance, even from afar. They should put forth a theme and style consistent with your branding, and they should have enough content to draw in prospects, without being overwhelming.

Educate your prospective customers. Focus on the end result for customers, and in the most honest and transparent way, teach prospects how they will benefit from your product or services, or perhaps by supporting your nonprofit. Tell stories and share examples, drawing on the colorful and emotional content of personal experience.

Be informative. Provide step-by-step information on how to purchase your offerings and give clear instructions. Online, you want your prospect to know exactly what to type and where to click on your well-organized landing page. Offline, people need to know where you are located, your hours of operation, and how to reach you by phone. Provide a variety of contact methods so your each individual prospect can choose which option is most convenient, including social media interfaces.

Load your offer with extra value. Figure out what you can comfortably add to the offer that does not greatly impact your bottom line, yet could hold tremendous perceived value to your customer. Maybe it’s a complimentary consulting session or a free sample to get them started. Perhaps it’s an app or add-on to a product, or even an invitation to a special event.

Use soft reminders and cut-off dates. People are busy and they forget, so use casual, low pressure reminders in your communications. It also can be useful to attach a time-sensitive component to your reminder, such as “the price will be going up on Friday.”

Stand behind your offer. Build trust and remove a barrier to the sale by offering a 100% money-back guarantee with no questions asked. This is especially important when selling online. Rarely do people ask for their money back, and if they do, it’s a sale you never would have made anyway. The offer of a guarantee can gently push a prospect over the line to become a buyer, and it drives you to ensure what you’re offering is the best it can be.

To truly embrace anti-selling, take a new look at what you are offering and how your marketing materials are constructed—make them work harder for you and assume most of the selling process. You will be amazed how marketing characteristics of generosity and clarity will convince people to buy. Then rejoice that you don’t need to make a cold call!

How the lowly business card can seriously boost your authority.

professional business cardsHave you heard that “Print is Dead”? I heartily disagree.

In content marketing, where you freely share relevant information to attract and convert prospects into customers and hopefully repeat buyers, print materials can be a crucial part of the mix.

There is plenty of room for printed materials in permission marketing as well, where you honor the privilege of delivering pertinent messages to people who anticipate them, rather than carpet-bombing the masses with ads, television commercials or junk mail.

Sometimes your customers are not online.

Sometimes your potential customer is standing in front of you, and you are having an honest-to-goodness face-to-face human conversation. In a fleeting moment, you are asked for contact information. You don’t hesitate. You don’t grapple with pen and paper. You don’t fumble your phone. You instantly produce a professionally-designed business card.

Yes, the lowly business card can still fill an important role.

There was a lengthy discussion last year in a LinkedIn group of communications professionals about business cards: Are they dead? Who needs them? Just bump your phone with someone to exchange contact information.

But your business card goes above and beyond the communication of basic contact information. It carries your business identity and branding elements. It makes a critical first impression with prospects, and can immediately boost your authority. Your card also can augment your sense of confidence when you are meeting and interacting with new people.

Do you have a business card? What does it look like?

Is your card a do-it-yourself number, printed slightly crooked and popped out of a perforated page? Or is it professionally designed and printed, impeccably branded?

If it falls face down on a desk, is there some sort of message or supplementary information on the back about your offerings, like a mini brochure?

The importance of having a professional business card played out right here just the other day.

Harry Sircely, in search of fertilizer inputs to improve our new vegetable garden, walked up to one of our neighbors who was cleaning up after her alpacas. They introduced themselves and had a long, neighborly conversation about chickens and alpacas and gardens and the usual topic, “How did you end up here on Orcas Island?” She offered him copious amounts of manure and wondered what he might offer in exchange.

“I’m a photographer,” he said. They talked some more. He produced his business card and she was drawn to the stunning images printed on each side. “Oh, you ARE a photographer!” she exclaimed. Apparently these days, ‘everybody’s a photographer,’  and his business card served as evidence, proof of his talent. Professional image conveyed. Contact information delivered. Cost of full color, two-sided card: 3 cents.

Take a few minutes to analyze your current business card.

  • Does it really tell someone what you do?
  • Is the presentation professional?
  • Are the images and typestyle in tune with your branding, and do they convey the image you want to project?
  • Is all the contact information up to date?
  • Are you using both sides, or a fold-over card with four panels?
  • Do you include a QR code to direct prospects to a relevant page on your website?

If you want to bump phones to exchange information with someone, that’s fine. You still need a business card for occasions when the human conversation and the tactile offering of a printed card builds your authority and helps to seal a new business relationship.

Six tricks to avoid typos in your marketing materials.

Enchanted Forest Road sign in Eastsound, WA

This road sign on Orcas Island recently was replaced due to a spelling error. It formerly read: ENCHATED FOREST RD.

Every time you publish something, from an email or blog post to a brochure or your website, you need to prove time and time again that you’re a capable professional worthy of earning someone as a new customer.

It’s all about perception. You want your marketing materials to demonstrate your ability to communicate persuasively and with close attention to detail, reinforcing the message you are capable and confident.

So what happens when a typographical error appears in your headline?

Yesterday, an example arrived from a completely unexpected source. A prestigious private school sent out a mailer encouraging alumni to attend an upcoming reunion with the salutation: “Mark you calendar and register today!” The typo came as quite a surprise because this school demands perfection, and usually demonstrates it as well. The mailing must have been sent to thousands and thousands of alumni—how embarrassing!

Printed piece contains typo in headline

Dropping the “r” from “your” is a common misspelling, but that does not make it any less harmful to your image. You don’t want readers to focus on the error instead of the message you are trying to convey. And you certainly don’t want others to make a judgment call about your professional skills based on something so avoidable.

How can you ensure your published product is free of mistakes?

No matter how small the project, put as many eyeballs on it as possible. Usually you are too attached to whatever you’ve written or designed to be able to proofread the piece with precision. Your brain sees what it wants to see (the job completed!) and once your eyes begin skimming, they can easily fly over any errors. On a long-term project, often those on your immediate team are also too close to the product to carefully proofread.

If you have to go it alone—if your situation or the time factor dictates that you cannot reach out to two or three others for proofreading, here are six techniques I use to avoid dreaded typographical errors:

  • Use spellcheck. This obvious first step is often overlooked. Of course, spellcheck is of limited help because it will not catch “you” when you meant to type “your” and it won’t tell you the “manger” should be a “manager.” But spellcheck is a good start, and can be helpful in finding comparative words spelled incorrectly, such as a last name typed two different ways in the text, or two words running together, or repetitive words such as “the the.”
  • Know yourself. There probably are certain mistakes you make regularly as you type, some words that get tangled or letters that become transposed, such as “form” and “from.” As you work, be on the lookout for typical typographical errors.
  • Double up. Double-space a draft and double the size of the font. Reading Times 24 pt will force your eyes to look at the words differently and reveal unexpected blunders. Changing the font in this step will also trick your brain into seeing the words anew.
  • Print it out. Use 100 percent recycled paper so you don’t feel guilty. It is much easier to proof copy on a sheet of paper than it is on a computer screen. In addition, you will have a better grasp of the alignment of your layout and how it will look to others who may print the piece you intend to publish.
  • Go backwards. I learned this trick from one of my clients. If you start at the end of the text and read from right to left, your eye focuses on each separate word. This allows you to see the words in a new way, which makes it easier for you to pick up any errors.
  • Talk it over. Read your work aloud. This will reveal errors you would not notice otherwise. When working on annual reports, books and important pieces, I read aloud to one of the members of my team. We sit facing one another, each with our own copies, and take turns as one reads and the other follows with a critical eye. We even read the punctuation, like this: “Capital M mark you calendar and register today exclamation point.” In this way, the “you” stands out like a red flag.

Fortunately, in the example of the alumni reunion mailing, this was a piece sent to the school’s community members, not a mailing to prospective students.

Whether you are publishing online, in print, in digital format or simply writing an email, remember to appear as professional as possible. It’s difficult to catch every mistake, but it’s definitely worth making the effort.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to proof this post about five more times to make sure it’s free of typographical errors!