We’ve all been there.
We’ve been watching TV, or scrolling through our Newsfeed, or checking our emails, and we’ve stumbled across a piece of marketing that’s made us roll our eyes so hard they almost got stuck.
Maybe it was pushy and aggressive, or overly cheesy, or there were inconsistencies that made it feel like total bull.
As a crusader for human-to-human marketing (with, as my friend Casey likes say, a "highly-tuned BS meter"), here’s what I’ve found about BS-y marketing: In most cases, it’s not created by people who actually want to be that pushy or aggressive or overly cheesy.
It's created by people who are trying so hard to follow all the marketing rules and best practices they've learned, they've completely lost touch with the people they're trying to market to.
From a business perspective, this is where I most often see the wheels come off the bus.
So, how do we make sure we don’t elicit that same eye roll in our own communities?
Here are my five top tips for BS-free marketing:
1. Don't over automate
All the tools and technologies we use to run our businesses allow us to put super efficient, streamlined workflows in place. The down side? They inevitably put layers between us and the people we’re trying to reach.
When you’re an entrepreneur doing it all yourself, it can be tempting to automate all of your communications—emails, newsletters, nurture sequences, meeting scheduling, blogs, social media—so that you can remove yourself from the noise and focus on other things.
My advice? Until you reach the point in your business where you physically can't reply to every email or schedule every discovery session, leave room for real exchanges with the real people you're trying to serve. There is truly no better marketing than personal one-on-one connection.
2. When you do automate, be authentic
Have you ever been on Facebook, read a post that starts with"I was just thinking about..." or talks about an experience that (apparently) just happened, and then noticed it was published through Hootsuite (a social media management tool that many brands use to schedule social media posts ahead of time)?
Those are the little inconsistencies that trip our human BS wire and most often pop up in automated content. If they scheduled the post through Hootsuite, did that experience really just happen? Were they actually "just thinking" about whatever they posted about? Or were they scheduling out content for the week and, in an effort to make it sound relevant for the day, fudge the context a little?
It seems like a small thing, but having to decipher whether the content is actually genuine disengages us from both the brand and the content itself pretty quickly.
So, when you do automate, keep it real. No one will judge you for using a social media management platform—we're all using them!—as long as the content feels authentic.
3. @@Don't write anything on your website you wouldn't say in person@@
One of the biggest joys I get out of the messaging sessions I run is being able to reintroduce people to the ways they talk about themselves, their businesses and the things they’re passionate about. I don’t think I’ve run a session yet where I’ve repeated something back and they haven’t said some version of “I say that?!”
As an entrepreneur, YOU are your brand. In order for us to trust your brand enough to buy from you, we need to feel like we know you. The real you. Not the you you’re pretending to be when you include fancy words on your About Me page.
If you need some help, download the voice recorder app, record a conversation you have with your husband or Mom or friend and then play it back. Welcome back to you, baby. :)
4. Make it easy for people to get in touch with a human
Make sure your website has a contact page. On that contact page, put email addresses and phone numbers for actual people. Hopefully you can be one of them, but if your business has grown to the point where that’s not possible, make sure you’re including details to someone whose job it is to nurture your brand’s relationship with your community.
My biggest piece of advice here? Get get rid of that contact form. I don’t know anyone who feels warm and fuzzy about a brand after encountering a contact form (#amiright?).
5. @@Don't follow the formula if it doesn't feel right@@
No one loves some good tangible advice more than this girl. But I've noticed that "how to" advice has become so formulaic—especially in the digital marketing space—that it feels impossible to market yourself without going through a very specific 10 or 12-step process outlined by [insert your favorite marketing guru].
Sometimes, those formulas are exactly what we need. Sometimes, there are pieces of them that feel not-so-right for our brand. And here's the deal: If steps 4 - 8 feel weird to you, they’re almost always going to feel weird to your community, too (cue eye roll).
So, If you read about a marketing tactic that promises to catapult your business but feels like it might creep out your community, adapt it so that it feels authentic to your brand or simply research other options out there (there are plenty!).
In my book, the foundation of BS-free marketing is two-fold:
Stay authentic to who you are as a person and business owner in all that you do,
and keep close to your clients.
In the comments below, I'd love for you to share:
What's one thing you could change about your business and / or communications to make your interactions with your community feel more authentic?