You need to know, rely on, and trust a person before you commit to a relationship with them. It was good adviiiiiiiiiiiiiiice that I just didn’t taaaaake. Unfortunately, I chose instead to follow the other evangelical suggestions that advocated a straight dash to marriage, particularly if you prayed hard enough for the perfect radiologist to fall out of the sky. (Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?)
I therefore spent at least three years of my mid-twenties plowing past the know, rely, and trust parts in an effort to lock down some sort of commitment. Shockingly, this was not an effective dating strategy.
It turns out that when you don’t take the time to get to know someone before planning your wedding and fiftieth anniversary celebration in your head, you tend to overlook things. Minor details, like emotional unavailability, fundamental character flaws, more emotional unavailability, and profoundly incompatible life goals. Who would’ve thought?! It figures.
(Spoiler alert, I did eventually get my order of operations straight. I also heeded the one other good piece of dating advice I received from an evangelical Christian, which was to date someone during all four seasons of the year before deciding whether to marry them. Science Guy and I have now been married two and a half years with only pleasant, or at least chaotic neutral, surprises. Progress!)
Good marketing is just like a good relationship.
The same principle applies for marketing and sales. How can you ask someone to commit to putting their money, time, health, homes, children, pets, or businesses in your hands if they don’t know squat about you? But as business owners, we do this. All the time. And we wonder why our inboxes are so quiet.
Think of marketing and sales as a growing relationship. You wouldn’t ask someone to move in the day you met them. (If you do, no judgment, but I really wouldn’t suggest it.) Use the content you post to help your audience Know, Like, and Trust you before asking them to Commit to the sale or booking. Here are a few general pointers, with sincere apologies to the Ms. Morissette (and anyone who is currently belting about raaaaaiiiinnnnnnnn on your wedding daaay):
Enough about “we”, let’s talk about you for a minute.
Not in a narcissistic way, obviously. But I see many business owners, particularly those with direct sales companies, hiding behind some vague corporate “we.” Your audience wants to get to know a real person. Share why YOU are in business, the benefits YOUR unique skills and experience can offer clients, and the rewards YOU reap from the work you do. (Yes, it’s okay for your business to reward you and it’s okay to talk about it.)
You can even do a little dance, if you’re old enough to remember cranking dat youuuuuu. (Sit down, Generation Z, you know nothing. Don’t you do that floss dance around here.)
Admit that you’re, “free but focused, green but wise.”
I see two kinds of less-than-total-authenticity when women market themselves. We either stage everything to be perfect:
Or we revel in our failures, and maybe even manufacture some sort of faux-humble messiness. (Which I personally find pretty irritating after awhile. There’s only so many blessed messes I can look at in one day without getting annoyed.)
Nothing’s wrong with being vulnerable about our weaknesses and mistakes. But why isn’t there more honesty about our successes, however humble they may be? I believe that it’s possible to balance humility and confidence, and that’s what audiences like to see and hear.
State your case time and again.
Trust, in any relationship, builds up gradually. Be consistent (but not repetitive) with your messaging. Do your homework so you can share reliable content with your audience. Follow through on your promises and show up when you say you will. It takes work. But like the most fulfilling relationships, establishing authentic trust with your prospects can provide rich rewards.