Buyers know being real is better than bragging

Show what you mean for effective small business selling

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” James Baldwin

That old adage do what I say (not what I do) doesn’t work very well for kids, nor adults. People, whether young or old, are generally smart enough to realize that what you do tells more about who you are. If you’re trying to make your mark with effective small business selling strategies, hype isn’t your friend.

When I hear claims of an answer for riches, I wonder why the marketing to the masses. If the discovery is so successful (and fool-proof), wouldn’t you think they’d now be doing something more meaningful with their life? Or giving it away to fully share the wealth (usually part of the pitch)?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a big believer in gifting services or products, but do wonder why someone claiming to be filthy rich follows an infomercial formula (proven effective, of course, but it feels slimy).

Show what you mean for effective small business selling“Because you’re an insider friend” – really? – I don’t even know you; “We’re offering this limited time offer” – that will be repeated tomorrow; “But, wait, there’s more” . . . .

If you’re a small business owner trying to build credibility, reconsider getting sucked into these schemes – or adopting the “proven” process to sell your wares.

Do you find these “oops” e-mails of late as off-putting as I do? Of course, they always begin with some kind of message that tries to imply humility. “My vendor, colleague, distracted brain, etc. got the link wrong” – and you realized that two seconds after your blast then managed to mobilize in seconds to set things right? Why should I trust your veracity as a vendor?

Sharing is caring?

Frankly, I doubt I’ll ever be comfortable with putting it all out there. My personal life is mostly private. I admire those who feel fine being intimate with their anonymous readers, provided what they share is interesting. That’s not me. As a small business marketer you don’t have to share everything, just show integrity. Hyperbole, deception or ridiculous claims don’t build trust, credibility or a client base, even if you just brought readers along through your latest mental health crisis.

We all have talents, knowledge and skills that make what we offer useful to others. If you feel the need to lie about what you provide, consider a different tract. Part of the thrill that comes from being a successful small business owner is being able to offer something special to those you attract. That’s personal.

Small business selling systems work in moderation

Sure, you can learn from other’s techniques, but if you’re thinking you’ll launch into millionaire status just because someone says “Buy my (fill in the blanks) process now for guaranteed wealth in 30 days,” hold off quitting that day job.

Effective small business marketing requires customizing approaches to ensure what you say reflects what you do and resonates with your prospects and clients.

I may be more sensitive – and reactive – to marketing hype than most. I started in this industry 25 years ago with a belief that truthful and targeted messages attracting the right kind of customer reaps rewards for a particular (effective) provider. Human nature hasn’t changed all that much. People prefer to do business with those they trust.

If you’re clients aren’t thrilled to have found you, reconsider how you’re selling, who you’re attracting and how you can make a big difference in their lives.

If you’re not getting giddy about the results you’re creating for your clients, they’re probably not either. That’s not a good way to live your life.

Getting back to the kid thing in the quote above, even adults tend to do less listening and more following. Why not make what you do in life (your small business is big when it comes to the quality hours in your day) something that makes you proud when others mimic? It’s actually easier to get enthused about great small business selling than to be focused on duping another for a sale.

10 Responses to Buyers know being real is better than bragging
  1. Kelly L McKenzie
    August 10, 2014 | 7:14 pm

    I’m with you. I can’t stand the empty promises. I worked for ten years with my mother at her successful asian antiques store and it was our honesty and integrity that kept the folks coming back. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Nanette Levin
    August 10, 2014 | 8:00 pm

    Hi Kelly – thanks for stopping in and taking time to comment. So glad to hear you and your mother found success in business with integrity. I imagine that’s an industry where some might be prone to pass something off for what it’s not.

  3. SKJAM!
    August 11, 2014 | 3:23 pm

    If your sales pitch sounds like one that people have been burnt out on through spam, or burned by, customers won’t respond positively. I know I hit delete a lot when I see “proven” or “thirty days”.

    • Nanette Levin
      August 12, 2014 | 1:13 pm

      Me too, Scott. Oddly these techniques work for enough people so they continue to be popular. It still feels icky. Not the way I want to do business.

  4. Susan
    August 11, 2014 | 4:04 pm

    So many of those pitches come across as empty promises. I can’t figure out what they’re selling, other than access to selling more exposure for themselves. Still, I have to say I’ve gotten suckered into few of them…

    • Nanette Levin
      August 12, 2014 | 1:15 pm

      Thanks so much for taking the time to stop in and comment , Susan. I’ve gotten drawn into a few purchases myself where I was caught up in the moment. Still have an expensive box of workout tapes I haven’t opened. Got mad when the company started billing my credit card every month after that. Took a lot to get them to stop. Won’t be doing business with them again.

  5. PR Brady
    August 11, 2014 | 5:31 pm

    Nice piece. Have to say, some of the hyped up ‘calls to action’ I’ve seen in advertising are flat out hilarious. Why don’t those decision makers see it, too? What’s truly awful is when they have paid someone to come up with it…yikes!

    • Nanette Levin
      August 12, 2014 | 1:16 pm

      That’s a great idea for another post, PR! You’re right, they are hysterical. I’ll have to start a swipe file for the future. Thanks for the super suggestion :-).

  6. Deborah Weber
    September 24, 2014 | 1:19 pm

    I totally agree hype is ridiculous. I feel just as strongly that marketing “to someone’s pain” is equally offensive. Let’s hope these things fall by the wayside sooner rather than later as out-of-date nonsense. I heard a charming term the other day. I think most of us are familiar with the term “heart-based” business, but the speaker instead used “heart-shaped” business. I instantly fell in love with that. I think all businesses should be heart-shaped.

    • Nanette Levin
      September 28, 2014 | 1:26 am

      Deborah, Thanks so much for stopping in and commenting. I like that “heart-shaped” concept too. I think we’d see a much happier world if people led with their heart in business pursuits (whether as a business owner or employee). It’s easy to do, but easy not to too.

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