You’re probably already doing it. Failing, that is. Most small business owners I know fail miserably at social selling. They are incredible contractors, interior designers, real estate agents, and whatever else they do. It’s just that being great at your craft doesn’t mean you’re an expert in the nuances of social media marketing.
Here’s the deal. Most small business owners I know come at social media with a “sell it” mentality. Every post needs to be a homerun sales pitch. And then they get frustrated when they fall flat and fail to produce any results.
It may seem counterintuitive, but the best way to sell on social media is to stop selling. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are not inherently sales platforms. They are social platforms. When you think about buying something, you go somewhere like Amazon. That’s a sales platform. When you get onto social media sites, you’re looking to connect with people. And in those connections, you share (and discover) ideas that help you shape your life.
That’s why looking to social media strictly for selling is the wrong approach. You should be there to connect. And if you’re really good, to tell a story about who you are, what you do, and how that intersects with your customers – and potential customers – lives.
There’s a great fable from Aesop that serves as a guide for how you should approach your social media strategy for business.
The Wind and the Sun are arguing over is stronger. Suddenly they see a traveler coming down the road. They decide to settle to an argument over whoever can get the traveler to take his coat off. The Wind blows as hard as it can, but the traveler tightens his coat up even more. Then the Sun softly shines its rays on him. The traveler suddenly feels hot and finally removes his coat. Declaring the Sun, the winner.
The lesson here is that persuasion is a far better tool than force. The same applies to your social selling strategy. You’ll get much further with a more kind and humble and gentle approach than you will by blasting at them.
Forcing It Never Works
“I want to get on social media and hang out with a used car salesman.”
– No one ever.
Here’s my big challenge to you. Don’t be that guy. You know, the one who tries to sell you a car just because you have a driver’s license.
Don’t get me wrong. You probably have a great product or service. And it likely could make people’s lives much better. The problem is in the approach, not the product. For car buyers, 60 percent of the process occurs online. People search third-party websites (78%) and dealer/manufacturer websites (53%). So much of the legwork for car buying happens like this because people don’t want to deal with the pushy salesman. We naturally reject that kind of in-your-face tactics.
If you go into your social selling approach like the North Wind, you’ll get the same result. People will pull that coat tighter and try to protect themselves from your blow-hard approach.
The Art of Persuasion
Social selling is about persuasion. And persuasion is about influencing convictions or beliefs. In our fable, the Sun didn’t force the traveler to take off his coat. Instead, he created an environment where that outcome was more likely. The traveler became convinced that taking off the coat on his own was the right idea.
Making them look smart to their friends by being a helpful resource
Being the fun guy in the room
You’ll get to social selling opportunities when you present the kind of personality people want to do business with. Social selling is the result of creating the right kind of environment. When they decide the time is right, they’ll buy from you.
Final Thoughts on Social Selling
The bottom line is that there are customers out there to be found on social media. Lots of them! But winning at social selling is more about taking the softer and more persuasive approach than it is about forcing your sales pitch on people.
It’s also worth noting that social selling works best when you understand the differences between how people use each platform. What you do on LinkedIn should look very different than what you do on Facebook. They are different kinds of parties. The key is to connect well – and naturally – in the environment you’re in.
4 Simple Steps To Seize Your Best-Selling Book Idea
Category:Writer Strategy Skill Level: All Levels Live Webinar: Wednesday, November 20, 2019 at 12:00pm ET (9:00am PT)
Whether you are self-publishing your book, or going the traditional publishing route, getting the right book idea can be the difference between a best-seller list or the dollar store bin. So if you want to seize your next (or first) best-selling book idea, then you’ll need to learn how to find it.
That’s where analysis comes in. Part of finding the right idea is an art, following your gut feelings. But a big part of it is the science behind knowing what people are looking for.
In this session, you’ll learn about:
What a best-selling book idea looks like
How analysis fits in the process of publishing your book
4 steps to help you uncover the best book ideas
How to test your idea to make sure you have a winner
Upon completion of this webinar, you’ll have everything you need to find the big idea for your next (or first) book. You’ll be able to move forward in the publishing process with confidence that you’re developing something people will actually want to buy.
Stories have been the primary tool for connecting people and sharing ideas for thousands of years. And if you want to develop deeper connections with your customers (existing and potential), then brand storytelling is a marketing strategy you’ll want to master.
Storytelling has been a big part of my journey both as a blogger/author and a business owner. So you can imagine my excitement when #SEMrushchat, a weekly Twitter chat with some of the best minds in digital marketing, picked this as a discussion topic.
#SEMrushChat is live TODAY 📣 This time we will be discussing the power of storytelling as a marketing tool with our special guest @iSocialFanz 🔥
I’m not going to share every Tweet from that conversation, but I thought the conversation was worth sharing here. Here are the questions, my responses, and the SEMrush question recap posts that include details from other people’s responses.
Q1. Why is storytelling important for business?
A1. Stories are what connect us.
We identify with each other and our ideas when we process that through stories.
Step away from marketing strategy for a moment. Stories have been used to communicate and carry on ideas for thousands of years. Hearing a story gives you a greater opportunity to connect emotionally. It also makes the idea easier to remember and communicate. We still tell stories written decades and centuries and millennium ago. The staying power is awesome.
Now think about how powerful it would be if you could use that in your business. Brand storytelling is all about using the power of story to connect with your customers over shared ideas and values. And that can be an incredible marketing tool!
Q1 Recap. If you want to get more attention, make an emotional connection, and stand out from the crowd, using the power of storytelling is your best bet 🌟 #SEMrushChatpic.twitter.com/xOQ31SX9w3
I love the responses that get into things like how “stories humanize brands.” So much of how small businesses do digital marketing is to blast features, benefits, and technical aspects of their products. That misses the mark. If you can get into the story you need to tell, then you’re building something people can better relate to.
Q2. Once you’ve decided to create a storytelling strategy, what are the steps you should take?
A2. The first step is to clearly define the elements of the story…
🤜 The hero (put your customer here, not yourself) 🤜 The guide (you, helping the hero through their journey) 🤜 The challenge/antagonist (the problem to overcome) 🤜 The journey/path#SEMrushchathttps://t.co/6yygkydyr6
The stories we tell can be dynamic and flexible for sharing in different ways on and offline. So the first thing you need to do is clearly define certain common elements. I often take an approach of making the customer the hero of the story, not you (the brand/business). And you can have a few different stories related to different types of customers and/or problems they encounter. So being clear on what the hero in your stories looks like helps you to have a framework for telling many different stories everywhere you want to tell them.
But this idea of not telling your story, and making the customer the focus (hero) is something others don’t always easily get…
For the most part… clients aren't as interested in YOUR story as they are in how you can help them in THEIR story.
That means flipping the story so they are the focus (the hero), and you are their "Yoda".
Self-focused stories tend to be more like bragging.#SEMrushchat
This is an idea that I’ve experienced in many of my non-profit storytelling adventures. We’ve raised large amounts of money online by inviting other people to be the hero of the story. And applying the hero/guide concept to brand storytelling is something one of my favorite writers has been teaching too. Donald Miller’s Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen (affiliate link) book is a great resource that digs much deeper into this topic.
Ok, thanks. Sometimes your own story is relevant — I'm thinking to demonstrate credibility — e.g., demonstrating how by having gone through that journey yourself you now have the skill to guide them in theirs. But I see how the story is still about them. #SEMrushChat
Point taken. In Star Wars (the original trilogy), Luke Skywalker is the hero. And with brand storytelling, that’s where we want our customers to be. It’s all about their journey. Then there’s Yoda, the guide. And that’s where you want your business to be. It’s not that Yoda’s story doesn’t matter, but it’s not his journey, and he’s not the hero of that story. In fact, the more we learn about Yoda’s backstory, the more helpful it is to understand his role in Luke Skywalker’s journey. So I’m not saying ignore yourself. Just position yourself properly within the story.
One of the biggest things I see from others in this part of the conversation is the importance of planning your content. And that’s definitely a big factor with any marketing strategy. The stories we develop can be used in various ways across many platforms. Take the time to develop it well, and plan how you are going to use it in different places. Then let it guide how you share everything. Even when you’re curating content from other sources on your social media profiles, ask yourself how it supports the stories you’re telling.
Q3. What are the essential questions to begin gathering your own stories?
A3. Some of the core questions should be:
🤜 What problem/obstacle did you overcome? 🤜 What tools/people/concepts helped you overcome it? 🤜 What does/did the end result (victory) look like? 🤜 How will other people find themselves in similar situations?#SEMrushchathttps://t.co/tyNsxrRo6M
For me, the biggest questions are around the elements of the story. These elements can help you draw strong connections between the stories you have in your back pocket, and communicating what a particular customer needs to hear. It’s important to have a library of stories that you can tell. Not every one of them is going to match the journey another new customer is on. So spend the time thinking about all of the problems/obstacles you encounter, so that you can have one of those stories ready for the next person who needs to hear it.
And I love seeing responses talking about things like values. As a business owner myself, my values are part of the reason my customers like me. The core products themselves can maybe be purchased elsewhere. But not everyone has the same values I do. And that kind of thing can be a big deciding factor for potential customers.
Q4. What are the possible forms of storytelling available for any business?
Not only can the stories be told across various platforms, but how you tell them can vary too. And it should also be the filter for anything else you do, whether you’re “telling the story” or not. Think of your company’s Facebook page timeline. Look over the posts for the last couple of months like you’re reading a book. What story does it tell?
And I totally agree with the idea that everyone learns and engages differently. Too many businesses use the same exact post shared on multiple social media platforms. Take the time to evaluate and customize the messaging for each platform. It’s a little more work, but the payoff is huge.
Q5. What resources on marketing storytelling would you recommend to go deeper into that topic?
Basically, I believe it’s important to be a student of the subject in order to be an effective marketer. One practice for that is to read good stories (and watch movies with good stories). This is also where books like Invisible Ink, Rivet Your Readers With Deep Point of View, and On Writing (affiliate links) have proven to be valuable resources for making me a better marketer.
The other resources mentioned here are all fantastic. I’ve already seen several of these and can attest to how valuable they are. And the others just got added to my list of things to study on the topic.
Final Thoughts on Brand Storytelling
One important takeaway I got from this #SEMrushchat session was that brand storytelling is something that needs to be strategic and well thought out. It’s not good enough to scribble a few ideas on a napkin, make a quick YouTube video about yourself, drop on your website, and call it a day.
Spend some time thinking through what your brand stories should accomplish, craft them well, and let them take on their own life… everywhere. Putting in the effort will get results if done consistently over time.
Category:Writer Strategy Skill Level: All Levels Webinar Recorded: October 23, 2019
When you’re looking for ways to improve your blog, Google Analytics can be your best source of direction. The problem is that most bloggers don’t understand much beyond seeing the number of visitors who come to their site each day.
But if you know what you’re looking for, then Google Analytics can be a wealth of information that guides you to greater success month after month.
In this session, you’ll learn about:
Why Google Analytics is your best source of information to improve your blog
What the key metrics are you’ll need to know
What reports you can monitor to get a better understanding of how your blog is performing
How to use the data you find to make changes that will make a difference
How to build a plan of continual improvement into your blogging habits
Upon completion of this webinar, you’ll have a better understanding of what your Google Analytics has to tell you, and how you can use that information to boost your efforts.
How Blogging Impacts Your Business (And How To Do It Right)
Category:Business Strategy Skill Level: All Levels Webinar Recorded: November 12, 2019
If you’re not doing business blogging, then you’re missing some incredible opportunities to reach new customers! Blogging is the core piece of a great content marketing strategy, and it feeds several other elements of what you do to help your business get found online.
Learn not only why it’s important to have a great business blogging strategy, but also how to develop a list of ideas that get you to the things people want to see from you, and how you can leverage that content across platforms in order to get you the most possible traction.
In this session, you’ll learn about:
The potential impacts a blog can have on your business website
How to research topics and find ideas that will get you instant traction
Tips for how to develop great content for your company blog
How to leverage the content for social media and search engines
Upon completion of this webinar, you’ll have all of the elements for building a great content marketing strategy using your website’s blog. But you might be saying, “I’m not a writer!” Well, we’ll talk about that too, and let you know how you can take advantage of this strategy without breaking the bank.