The next time you hear someone tell you that a marketing or conversion tactic “works,” ask this question:
“It might work to convert 10% of the audience… but does it build trust with the other 90%... or does it look salesy to them?”
Years ago, I used to care only about the small percentage of my audience who converted -- I was all about the sale, getting the transaction. The rest of the audience? I thought of them as “illusory clients” or “tire kickers”.
I used to care more about my own profit timelines rather than the more organic, decision-making process of my audience. I wanted them to buy my program “by the end of this webinar!” or “within 48 hours!” and so I dangled ridiculous incentives, and used “powerful” scarcity tactics to convert the few... yet turned off much of the audience by these pressure tactics. This is called “being salesy.”
That was when I was less wise to the long-term reality of word-of-mouth marketing and building a brand… and doing the right thing in business!
Why did I do this for several years? Because it “worked”. I was making a lot of money.
This reminds me of the quote that was featured in the movie An Inconvenient Truth:
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” --Upton Sinclair
A lot of marketers and “growth hackers” mistakenly believe this -- Who cares about attention and vanity metrics such as social media views, comments and shares? We want sales, period! Do whatever is needed -- hyped promises, scarcity and pressure tactics. By any legal means necessary, persuade people to buy.
Just because something is legal and “works” to make money, doesn’t make it the right to do.
If you understand and care about the long-term, you realize that doing the right thing is always the right thing.
In other words:
The relationship is more important than the transaction.
Building trust is more important than making the sale.
What I used to do was focus on persuading the 10%, while I turned off the 90%.
But then I found myself having to launch again, and again, and again… quarter after quarter, year after year, in order to make enough sales.
One day I woke up, and realized that I hadn’t built anything long-term.
By using the typical internet marketing strategies -- fake, uncaring “marketing funnels” and pressure-driven sales, I had not built *the real asset* in business -- a long-term trusting relationship with my audience… true fans who open my emails and love spreading the word because they love my work, not only affiliates who are getting paid to do so.
If you haven’t generated true word of mouth, you will have to exhaustingly launch again and again, forever, always using persuasion tactics that annoy more of your audience than build trust, concerned about the current sale rather than long-term reputation.
When you first start prioritizing relationship and reputation, it requires patience. It calls you to care more generously for your audience than your competitors are willing to.
This is good for everyone:
Your audience is truly served.
You grow in ways that matter most.
Your industry gets a better reputation because of you.
Why is it that most marketers and businesses don’t do this?
Focusing on relationship, trust, and reputation *takes more time* than making short-term launches with persuasion tactics.
The main complaint is that non-transactional generosity, and brand-building, appears to be less predictable and ROI-based.
But the reality is that short-term conversion tactics are *often* (if not usually) failures anyway. The idea we are sold is that you are supposed to be able to follow XYZ marketing/sales strategy and calculate “If I do this, it should be 10% of conversions.” But almost always does it fail. Every business that follows those formulas would be successful today.
(Interestingly, being calculating is also the opposite of authentic connection in relationships.)
And yet, if we are willing to think more “macro”, more long-term, to zoom out on our timeline above the current campaign, or this quarter’s numbers, or even this year’s plan… if we are willing to look at the horizon in years, the reality I’ve seen is that generosity and reputation-building are usually a better bet for sales.
If you are willing to prioritize patience and love, the results are more than worthwhile. Over time, you eliminate the need to sell. Ideal clients come to you because of your reputation, and you only need to “whisper” your offerings (rather than resort to persuasion tactics and tacky marketing) -- and they buy, because they already trusted you before you said a word to them.
Focus on the sales, and you build a reputation for being salesy. Focus on trust, and you actually make sales easier over time.
The Golden Rule, translated for marketing: Observe what marketing makes you feel good and want to spread the word. Then do your marketing like that.