If you market a product, service, idea, or business and you have at any point researched how to do that effectively online, chances are that you have come across the expression sell without selling at some point.

But what the heck does sell without selling mean?!   Here are some popular reactions.  Feel free to nod your head if any of them are familiar to you:

  • How does a person sell without selling?
  • Why would a person spend time “marketing” without trying to move product?
  • Is it really marketing if you are not telling people about your product?
  • My rent/bills/start-up costs are WAY too expensive to sell without selling.
  • Selling without selling sounds really unproductive.
  • I don’t have the time in the day to do something that doesn’t generate immediate clients or revenue.

Do any of these reactions resonate for you?

Before we get to how to sell without selling, let’s first address the point of it.  Marketing is typically a long game.  Yes, you can go into a crowded room with your offer, spray it into the audience, and chances are there may be some low-hanging fruit that need your offer right then to solve a problem.  Immediate sales.  GREAT!  The issue is, there is probably a larger percentage of people that you just turned off.  People who ultimately would have been customers if cultivated more slowly, but who instead resist your offer because they did not want to be sold to by someone they didn’t know or trust.  Think you’ll get them back later?  The challenge is that you now have to work much harder, because their first impression of your business was one of resistance.  It was negative.

The alternative option is to instead slowly build the relationship.  You could expose this same audience to your brand in a variety of ways over time.  You could continue to make impressions on them with your business name, the look of your product, a funny anecdote about your product.  After a certain number of  these “touches,” you would have warm leads.  This room of people would now have the potential for a much higher volume of sales with any offer you drop.

This is an example that demonstrates the principle of the Rule of Seven.  The Rule of Seven is an important principle that shows that leads become warmer as exposure to your brand increases (for more information, read here)!  Selling without selling is one way to utilize the Rule of Seven in your marketing without losing a large percentage of your audience in the process.

When you do social media marketing, it is especially important to respect the sell without selling principle.  Your audience went online – on social media – for a distraction.  To catch up with old friends.  To do some research.  To be informed.  To share opinions.  To read something funny.  To watch a cute video of cats.  To see pictures of last weekend’s party.  To be motivated.  They went online for a lot of reasons, but they might not have gone there with a credit card expecting to shop.

So, scroll through your business pages right now.  What percentage of your posts ask the audience to buy something?  What percentage of your posts are educational, informative, opinionated, thought-provoking, funny, cute, relatable, motivational, etc.?

If you use social media marketing to hard sell all the time you can damage your reputation.  Why is that?  Because people can block you.  They can write a negative review that you can’t rebut.  They can unfollow you.  They can give you a thumbs down.  They can report you.  And why is that bad?  It is bad, because negative reaction to your business will actually hurt your reach on many platforms.  Also, it will create doubt in your product among people who read the reviews and see that you do not get much positive engagement.

If you use social media marketing to hard sell all the time you can damage your reputation. Click To Tweet

If you sell without selling, you give your audience consistent, positive exposure to your brand.

Does that take a long time?  Yes.  I would even say to brace yourself for six months to a year of audience building.   That’s right.  You’re in this brand-building and positive relationship-building mode for the long haul.  And the result of this time spent will be:

  • Warming a high volume of leads until they are ready for you to go in with a close.
  • Building the reputation of your brand.
  • Establishing an attentive and loyal audience.
  • The social proof that comes with an engaged following.
  • The potential for upsells into free, low-cost, and then higher-cost offerings.
If you sell without selling, you give your audience consistent, positive exposure to your brand. Click To Tweet

This week we addressed what it means to sell without selling and why it is a good idea.  Next week, we will address HOW you do that and what options could work for your business.  Click here for Part 2!

And if you are working on a plan for selling without selling on social media specifically, I recommend that you check out this Facebook Engagement Bootcamp. If you are using Facebook for marketing your business, this guide will help you come up with a plan for showcasing your brand, building engagement, and converting your audience!