Do you know what REALLY sucks?
Trying to convince people that they should buy your stuff.
I know as an entrepreneur, I’m supposed to be selling and hustling 24-7.
But selling, as in convincing you that you should depart your hard-earned money with my suave and charm, isn’t in my blood.
The only counter to any sales objection I have is doing the “Gangnam Style” elevator dance (since I’m Korean).
(OK, they don’t always buy after this. But they do call the cops.)
When I think of the word “salesman,” first I think of a fat, greasy old dude named Vinny trying to sell me a junker for five times what it’s really worth. The second thing I think of are people who genuinely want to help you when you need something.
Of course, I freaked out. I didn’t want to chop my arm off in a foreign country. So I went to see a doctor. When I got there, I sat down in front of the hospital rep (i.e. salesperson), who was going over my treatment options. I saw that the basic package was all I needed — basic check-up, basic blood work and basic consultation with a doctor.
She didn’t try hard at all, but she managed to upgrade me to their premium plan, which included a dental checkup and yes, I shit you not, ultrasound. FOR MEN! Now, I am the most skeptical buyer you can possibly imagine, but they managed to persuade me to spend three times as much as I really needed. How?
Simple. I NEEDED what they had, and THEY were the experts.
To me, that was the A-HA moment.
If you’re an entrepreneur with a product or a service, you HAVE something that someone needs.
This was the A-HA-I-WILL-NEVER-NEED-TO-SELL-AGAIN moment for me.
Introducing… inbound marketing!
Instead of you trying to sell, sell, sell, why not help, help, help?
Someone somewhere has a pain that YOU can solve.
In fact, a company I helped found, Solar One Media (a lead generation company that helps solar installation companies with solar sales leads), did JUST that.
We spent probably less than $300 in total advertising and PR, and ZERO cold calls or emails. Yet we received over a dozen inquiries from a HYPER HYPER niche that has about only a couple of thousand players in the entire industry. When a lead converts to a customer, they spend tens of thousands of dollars.
Incredible? You betcha.
So how do you do this?
1) Be an expert
Know your topic. Be a pro in your area of expertise.
You go see an eye doctor when your eye hurts. Why? He knows about eyes. You go see an internal medicine doctor when your tummy hurts. Why? She knows about guts. You go see a dermatologist when your skin looks like crap. Why? He knows about skin. The point is, people see experts when they have a problem they need solved.
If you don’t know what you’re talking about, why would people come to you?
Me? I’m an online marketing expert. I know about search engine marketing, inbound marketing, SEO, pay per click, lead generation, conversion rate optimization, split testing, copywriting, social media and email marketing, blogging, and dogs.
If you ask me about offline marketing, I will probably look like a deer in the headlights.
2) Tell the world that you’re an expert
You could be an expert, but if they don’t know that you’re an expert, how would they come to you?
This is why I do interviews.
This is why I do case studies.
This is why I run events.
If you don’t tell the world who you are and what you do, how are they going to know?
Start a blog and keep writing there at least for a year. Remember, content is king. Without GREAT content, you’re nothing but a pauper. Imagine if your customer asks you what you know. Instead of telling them with your mouth over and over again, why not send them a URL? Remember, showing them is MUCH more effective than telling them.
3) Build an audience (that comes back)
It’s one thing to tell the world, but it’s another thing to build an audience.
Your audience will come to you because:
You are an expert and have some good stuff to say.
You are helpful and not always trying to sell them stuff.
Why do people follow Oprah? Tony Robbins? Steve Jobs? They are experts who know their stuff, give away great content, help people and aren’t afraid to be in the public light. Their audiences come back, and they eventually buy. Note to cynical people: Just because the product is paid doesn’t mean it doesn’t help people. Case in point: drugs that cure people from diseases, viruses, infections, etc. Remember, with Web technologies these days, it’s so easy to build a virtual audience. Twitter followings, Facebook fanpages, Google+ pages, and, of course, good ol’ email lists.
4) Keep in Touch
If this blog were updated once a year, would you come back? Probably not. The more often you are in people’s attention, the more likely you will develop trust with them.
Why do you think McDonald’s spends billions on brand advertising? They know the more they are in their buyer’s view, the more likely they will trust and eventually buy.
5) Teach first, sell later
When you teach, people trust you. This is a cultural norm that has been ingrained in our minds ever since we were little. Respect your elders, respect your teachers and respect authority. When you put yourself out there and teach people what you know, you have become a de facto authority in your topic.
When you become an authority, you become trusted.
When you become trusted, they are more likely to buy from you.
TaeWoo Kim is an entrepreneur, online marketer, speaker, and blogger. With over 10 years of experience, he’s helped achieve multimillion revenues for various companies. You can follow him on his blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
Image credit: CC by American Advisors Group