Imagine a world where…
… Marketing your business doesn’t feel like a sleazy, salesy thing you have to force yourself to do.
… Simply helping others freely and doing the work you love could make you a magnet for new clients and customers.
… You can transform every prospect you come into contact with into ambassadors for you and your business.
That’s a world you’d want to live in, right?
Well, good news, beautiful: This isn’t just a whimsical daydream! This is all part of the most effective marketing strategy out there — a strategy that works (and rocks!) in the real world.
I can just feel your (healthy and totally understandable) scepticism coming through the screen…
“How can marketing not feel slimy? And what exactly do you mean by “helping others freely,” and how does that work to expand my business? Surely you don’t mean to give away stuff for free, right? And how can I actually get others to help sell for me?”
Settle in, because today I’m answering all these questions and more, plus I’ll share my top four tips for putting this revolutionary marketing strategy into practice.
The Difference Between Selling and Serving
You already know what it means to serve a paying client or customer, right? You use your smarts and skills to help them better their lives; spiritually, physically, emotionally, professionally, etc.
In other words, you’re in the business of getting the people who hire you from A to awesome B, where they may never have gotten on their own. And that’s really cool!
But what about the other, equally valuable pool of people beyond your customers and clients:
The people who aren’t looking to buy from you?
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking:
“Hang on a sec, Jenny. Why would I waste my time helping those who don’t seem to want my services?”
Allow me to explain.
How Being of Service Can Increase Your Bottom Line
Believe it or not, the way you network and interact with people outside of your potential pool of buyers can help you stand out and grow your client list.
Your first instinct may be to tell me: “People hate being sold to if they’re not looking to purchase,” and I completely agree.
That’s why I’m not talking about springing up on someone at a networking event or the grocery store and cold pitching them your services. (Yuck!)
After all, there’s a reason that tactic doesn’t work. It’s an instant turnoff for most people — almost like a real-life pop-up ad, right? Unwanted, awkward, and far too in-your-face to be even remotely effective.
It’s actually the opposite of what you should be doing, because it’s entirely self-serving and doesn’t assist the person you’re speaking to in any way.
Here’s an example of what you should be doing instead…
Let’s say you’re a health coach and chef who, while a neighborhood party, happens to strike up a conversation with someone by the cheese and crackers table. She mentions something to you about how she ends up having just this for dinner all too often because she can’t find the time to cook healthy meals and wouldn’t know where to start if she did have the time.
This is a perfect opportunity for you to be of service! How?
You tell her she just brought up your absolute favorite thing to talk about: food and cooking. And because you’re a professional healthy-eating coach, you’d be more than happy to brainstorm some quick and easy dinner ideas with her, if she’d be interested (because you wouldn’t want to force yourself on her, obviously!).
You then spend the next five or ten minutes answering her most pressing healthy-eating questions and sharing amazing time-saving tips to help solve her problem. And – this part is super important – you don’t ask her for anything at all in return.
By this point, she’s feeling like she’s hit the jackpot. But you’re not done being of service yet.
At the end of your conversation, you hand her your card and let her know she can contact you if she has any follow-up questions. When she gives you her contact details, you tell her you’ll follow up soon and send along those recipes you mentioned.
Now this is the point where a lot of newbies and even seasoned pros freak out. They think they always need to pitch and close the deal, or else they’ll miss an opportunity. (Even though they know that no one likes to be closed!)
“Always be Closing” is terrible advice. Try “Always be Serving” on for size, and watch your sales soar!
The magic in the above scenario is that YOU DIDN’T PITCH HER. Instead you turned her into an engaged, curious, and grateful prospect who will remember you.
And being memorable is great, because if/when she’s ready to commit more to solving her problem, you’ll likely be the first person she calls. Plus, having offered useful advice and shared your passion with her, she’ll be more likely to spread the word about you to others before she even buys from you.
In this hypothetical but totally realistic scenario, you’ve comfortably presented your business to a new, potential client who, in turn, will be inclined to recommend you to others (essentially representing you on your behalf!). And all because you approached the situation from a natural place of generosity.Click to TweetIn the world of business, you should always err on the side of giving.
In fact, I even tell my clients to go ahead and give away your best stuff for free!
Curious about what other service-based selling tactics you can put to work today? I thought you might be.
4 Ways to Focus on Serving Others to Sell More
Without further ado, here are my best tips for growing your business by doing what you love, with effortless authenticity.
1. Don’t annoy your audience with non-stop promotional messaging
I’m not saying you should avoid talking about your stuff on social media (you should absolutely keep reminding people what you’re doing.) In fact, that’s the perfect platform to make more people aware of your services and free offers.
You just have to make sure you’re doing this within reason. If you’re pitching yourself in the same way, in the same places, over and over again … chances are, you won’t gain much ground.
Consider how you feel when you come across a Twitter feed that consists solely of “Hire me!”, “My blog is here!”, and “Sign up for my XYZ program TODAY.” It sounds desperate, and a little pushy, right?
That’s the kind of promoting that makes people want to back away slowly … instead of clicking the “Buy Now” button.
So limit yourself to a few direct-sell posts about your services, sprinkled in among valuable insights and helpful links for your people.
2. When people have questions, offer answers. When they need advice, share your expertise
The great thing about the online space is that you can access, in real time, the questions people are asking that pertain to your particular skill set.
Let’s go back to the professional chef example for a sec. Say you’re perusing Twitter one night, and you notice someone asking what the most nourishing meal for their kids would be when they come home from soccer practice.
Even the shortest response (as long as it’s useful) will be so appreciated by the asker. It could be as simple as “Hey [@name!], I wrote a post about this recently…” or “How about some yummy [whatever]? And check out my healthy-kids shopping list here [link]!”
This is a highly effective way to communicate what you do, because you’re publicly offering your knowledge for free. It grabs users attention, and shows that you’re confident in your expertise. That’s a big trust-builder among both your audience and non-audience members alike.
And, next time they have a question about health or food, who do you think they’re going to tag?
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying to give away your services entirely for free, or drop all your gold nuggets on the public in the blink of an eye. But by offering small, useful tips and tools over various online channels, you’ll gain a reputation as a helpful, friendly expert — and that has “HIRE HER” written all over it.
3. Help people make connections
You can still be of service, even if you don’t have the expertise someone is looking for.
Not a chef? Pass that bigwig at the networking event the name of someone you know who is. Don’t know much about child nutrition? Send the person on Twitter who needs help a link to your favorite expert in the field.
When you direct others to specialists beyond yourself, you distinguish yourself as a generous person who is more focused on helping others than making money.
And, aside from the asker’s gratitude, you’ll also have the expert’s. After all, you made the connection happen, and hopefully they’ll return the favor in the future!
While this strategy doesn’t hold much potential for immediate return, if you plan on being in business for a while (and I suspect you do), I guarantee you’ll watch that small gesture pay off at least once over.
Serving others, even in small doses like this, helps you stand out as a kind, caring, and dedicated presence.
And that’s the kind of rep that will pull people into your orbit like magic.
4. Ask how you can help
Think about it: When was the last time someone offered to help your business? Promote a call, tell their people more about you, etc?
It’s been a while, right? That’s because very few people think to ask if they can help. They prefer to be helped. It’s human nature! But you can use that to your advantage.
Because offering your skills for little to nothing in return, just because you know you can make someone’s life better with your knowledge, is what truly being of service is all about.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to the leaders in your field or people you admire and offer to give them a hand if they need it. Avoid asking for compensation or a trade — just offer whatever you’re willing to give.
If you choose to do this, here’s something to keep in mind: Be specific about the ways in which you can help them. Offering a vague “How can I help?” will be of little use if the person doesn’t know what your skills and expertise are!
The Final WordClick to TweetIn this high-speed, “gimme gimme” world of constant advertising and instant gratification, the best way to stand out over the din is to be a giver.
Taking the time to demonstrate to your audience and, by association, their audiences, that you’re helpful, knowledgeable, and generous is the absolute best and most authentic way to start attracting more clients and customers.
Because being of service isn’t about getting paid. It’s a way of life centered around helping and giving to others others, whether they’ve got a credit card in their hand or not.
That’s a truth we can’t allow ourselves to forget!
Now, the spotlight’s on you!
Do you run a service-based business? What’s your favorite, non-paying way to serve others?
Have you ever tried any of the ideas mentioned here? Did they work for you? Why do you think it happened that way?
Share your stories with me in the comments below — I always love hearing from this community!