Susan confessed her secret beliefs about marketing. In a small coffee shop on a rainy, dark afternoon, we talked about her business. While she happily spoke about her work as a well-regarded therapist, she stopped smiling when we got to the topic of marketing.
“I have very negative feelings about marketing. To me, it is almost like lying, and cheating and betraying.”
I got nervous for a moment … what did this make me? My career is in marketing communications. But I understood her feelings. I declined to work in the credit card industry, even during its heyday. I saw customers rewarded for spending into debt. The companies increased their profits at the cost of their customers’ futures.
Susan thinks about marketing all the time. Especially when a client cancels or her appointment schedule is empty for the next week. Susan is like many holistic entrepreneurs who don’t want to be salesy or a money grubber. They avoid marketing because the fear of losing their ethics.
Her business isn’t in good shape. Fewer word-of-mouth referrals are coming in. Once dependable new business sources have dried up. No one is calling for a session. Business is down.
“I wish I could think differently about marketing. I won’t sell myself. I am not a salesperson. I have a very hard time doing that. And it affects my business.”
Susan realizes something has to change … in a big way.
Marketing Isn’t Bad …
Do you relate to Susan’s frustrations? The problem isn’t that marketing is a bad thing to do. There’s a script running in your mind saying, “Marketing is a bad thing for me to do.”
You are afraid your clients won’t trust you.
Deep down, you may think, someone must lose for the other person to win. You feel bad. To get a sale means your client must lose. Some people do sell and market that way and make a lot of money. But you couldn’t sleep at night if you did.
Change Your Purpose – Change Your Results
We are here in the world is to create loving relationships — even in business. Your primary purpose in business is to help people.
In a trust-based relationship, the purpose of selling is not to make sales.
You can strengthen your integrity AND increase sales when trust is your intention in your marketing. Charles Green, one of the co-authors of The Trusted Advisor, calls this the Trust Paradox.
Green examined his successes and failures as a business consultant in the 1970s. Eventually, he realized trust was more important than giving good advice. As CEO since 1997 of Trusted Advisor Associates, he’s been training business people to create trusting relationships.
Green says, “You generate more sales when you stop focusing on sales as a goal,” in his video, “What’s So Different about Trust-based Selling?” .
Don’t think about the outcome, he says. Put your client’s best interests above your own, even if she doesn’t buy now, or you need refer her to another entrepreneur.
He says, “Buyers have a preference in buying from people who have their best interests at heart.”
It may be a challenge, but when you take responsibility to be trustworthy in your business, marketing your business becomes easier.
“How Can They Not Care?”
Summer of 2016, Mylan, a pharmaceutical company, maker of EpiPens, became the case study in how not to do business in the 21st century.
Mylan’s downfall began with a Facebook post shared over and over and over until the story was plastered on all our screens.
Mellini Kantayya, an actress in Brooklyn learned that a friend couldn’t afford $600 for her daughter’s EpiPen. On July 11, Mellini posted on Facebook a petition she created, “Stop the EpiPen Price Gouging.” Her post began, “Stupid pharmaceutical company!”
She shared the petition link with her 836 Facebook friends.
In one of many re-posts, Georgina Cornago Cipriano, whose 14 year old son, Giovanni, died from a food allergy, asked what everyone wondered, “How can they not care? What can we do?”
In 45 days, petition signatures totaled over 80,000 from people who sent more than 121,000 letters to Congress. Mylan’s CEO, Heather Bresch, unsuccessfully explained the pricing to the media in late August. Congress is critically looking at Mylan’s pricing and marketing decisions in September hearings.
Mylan never imagined their aggressive sales goals would lead customers to make life or death decisions. Or worse, Mylan was aware, but did not care. But their customers did care, and let others know.
Mylan chose higher profits above doing what was best for their customers.
Trust – More Important than Money
Trust is the new currency of this sharing economy, according to Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, authors of Extreme Trust: Honesty as a Competitive Advantage.
Peppers and Rogers are leading authorities in customer-focused business strategies. Their first book, The One to One Future: Building Relationships One Customer at a Time (1993) was cited by Inc. magazine’s editor, George Gendron, as “one of the two or three most important business books ever written.”
In Extreme Trust, they say customers have more power now because of social network connections and easy access to information, creating transparency. We now can discover and act on things that we never could have had a clue about before the internet.
With this power, customers now have higher expectations for the companies they do business with. They demand trustworthiness. When they’re ripped off, they quickly expose the misdeed to millions.
Business must focus on empathy, passion and the desire to do good in order to thrive, says Peppers and Rogers. Business can no longer put short term profits ahead of clients’ welfare.
The EpiPen story is about the old way and new way clashing.
Whose Interests Do You Put First?
Trust is a funny thing. It’s really about risk.
Risk is when your client puts her needs and desires in your control. While you commit to help her, she wonders if you will honor your commitment.
She can only trust that you will do the right thing. All your actions count.
When your intention is to truly help your clients, even if they don’t buy from you, you’re developing and maintaining trusting relationships.
Risk of Being Untrustworthy: No Clients. No Income. No Business.
You can sell honestly and make money. Aiming to create a win-win relationship with your clients is the foundation of their trust in you.
Holistic and heart-centered entrepreneurs are naturals at creating trusting relationships. You’ve chosen your work because you are compelled to help people. Use your natural gift in this way and your business will grow.