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You Know How You’re Afraid Of Marketing Because You’re Afraid People Will Be Annoyed? Here’s Your Annoy-Proof Marketing Plan.

You Know How You're Afraid Of Marketing Because You're Afraid People Will Be Annoyed? Here's Your Annoy-Proof Marketing Plan.

So I’m standing there getting whipped by rain and thwapped in the face by a giant map of Vienna, and all I could think was “I couldn’t look more like a tourist.”

Having spent a couple summers in the German-speaking world, I generally know how to avoid walking around with a “tourist” bullseye strapped to my back.

But when I became disoriented near St. Stephens (aka tourist central), there was no choice but to pull out a map, which an incoming December storm promptly blew into my face.  And at that point, every person selling stuff to visitors seemed to descend upon me, asking if I wanted to take a horse and carriage ride or go to this concert or join that tour.

Trying to simultaneously fend off both the map and the concert-hawkers, I wasn’t in the best of spirits when a costumed man approached and said:  “Can I help you find something?”

Wait, what?


The map flapped to helpfully fill the silence.

I looked up, slightly surprised, and the surprise increased as I felt my grumpiness vanish.

“Oh no thanks,” I said, finally snapping the map out and folding it up.

“Are you sure?  I know it’s hard to find things here.”

At this point I could feel my entire body language shift away from the defensive.

“I think I figured out what I needed.”

“Oh good.  Hey, are you guys looking for something to do tonight?”  He held up the brochure for his concert.


You know how you’re afraid of marketing because you’re afraid people will get irritated and stop being your friend (or something)?

Here’s how to avoid irritating people.  And, in fact, here’s how to not only NOT irritate them, but how to leave them in an even better mood than you found them:

Offer to help them first.

There is no going wrong with this one.

Whatever services you offer, there are people out there trying to figure out where the heck they are going, and they’re getting jostled by marketers and possibly rogue city maps.

If you walk up and simply offer help, you’ll:

A) make it virtually impossible for them to be annoyed, and

B) drastically increase the chances of them listening to the rest of what you have to say, and

C) ensure that even if they don’t hire you, they’ll be grateful for the hand.  And gratitude has a funny way of bearing fruit when you cultivate it.

So, here’s a whole bouquet of things you can do to make your marketing more helpful, which will decrease the number of fear-related excuses you have not to get on top of your next campaign:


– Add a button to your site:  “The Anti-Overwhelm Guide To Creating Amazing Family Photographs” that links to your contact page at the end.  Or dangle this as a way to get people to sign up for your newsletter.

– Where appropriate, also add a spot that says something like “Totally overwhelmed with the choices and process of finding a photographer, and kinda wish you could just talk to a real live human who will help you sort through it?  No problem!  Call me at 555-555-5555, and if I’m not in the middle of picking up my kids from school I will answer and help however I can.”  (Something to humanize you and encourage them to call, if you’re willing to field such calls.  Even if people don’t call, though, the fact that they could will be comforting to some people.)

– Run a free class with a local mom’s group like “How To Dress Your Family For Stunning Family Photos” or “Photographer Secrets For Getting Kids To Cooperate With The Camera” (soft pitch of your services at the end).


– When people look lost and overwhelmed at a bridal or trade show, help them!  Take a lesson from a Viennese concert-hawker:  “Hey!  Can I help you find something?”

– Disguise the promotion for your spring sessions at the bottom of a How-To blog article that tackles a topic that’s a sticking point for your target client.

– Ask people on Facebook “What’s the most overwhelming thing about having your photo taken?” and stick around to offer helpful thoughts.  “Oh, your kids never hold still?  I wrote a little guide about that – here’s the link!”  (And of course, the end of that guide encourages them to let you take the camera part off their hands for a change and get photos of everyone together.)

– Use a free service like Spreecast or Google Hangout to host a mini-lesson and online group Q&A to demystify something that scares/intimidates your target client.

– If you’re not walking them through the product sales process in person, for the love of all things good and wonderful, at least come up with a clear guide that has suggested combinations for the situations they’ll most likely find themselves in.  “Want to decorate the hallway as a surprise for your wife?  Pick package A.  More interested in shipping some goodies to the grandparents and home-ifying your office?  Package B is just for you.”

If you reframe your “marketing” as “helping people,” you’re probably going to be more likely to do it this year.

Note that “helping” doesn’t mean “giving people stuff for free,” it just means being generous with your time and knowledge in a way that makes sense, and that increases the trust that people have in you.

Presto – your marketing is now annoy-proof.  Now get back to it!


P.S.  Need help figuring out who your target client is, and what they most need help with?  There’s an app, er, e-book for that!



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  1. GlamourEffekt Hochzeitsfotograf on January 16, 2014 at 1:41 am

    thx for that! I’ll try to consider all that! 🙂

  2. Sophie on January 16, 2014 at 2:50 am

    Your blog is just amazing. I knew it was the post for me as soon as I read the title and it totally gave me a new perspective on marketing! Now I just have to implement the info! 🙂

  3. Kaylie on January 16, 2014 at 3:04 am

    Those photographs of Germany are so beautiful! Great post! Now I want to read the guide for the trick to get children to sit still!

  4. Thomas on January 16, 2014 at 11:32 am

    If its stephansdam & vienna than its Austria and not Germany,
    language is similar so (kind of german language)


  5. Thomas on January 16, 2014 at 11:33 am

    sorry for spelling mistake

    “Stephansdom” would be correct (Vienna as well)

  6. Sarah Shotts on January 16, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    I have a confession to make. I’ve been refreshing this blog for days hoping for a new post. 😉

    Working on marketing strategies for the new year and rebranding my website so this couldn’t have come at a better time.


  7. Allison on January 17, 2014 at 3:01 am

    Great bouquet! I came up with one just last night – once a month I’m going to go plant myself in a coffee shop for an hour or two, announce (ahead of time) where I’ll be, and let people come and ask me questions. Coffee’s on me, no strings attached. 🙂

  8. Shelby on January 17, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Thank you, thank you! I’m giving you a virtual hug right now! This is exactly what I’ve been wanting to do, but just haven’t been able to get it as concrete as what you have here. I’m super excited to flesh out some ideas!
    Thanks love 🙂

  9. Ryan on January 17, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    Very interesting read, however, I would love your take on one problem I have encountered.

    I use a similar method throughout life. I go out of my way to help as many people as I humanly can. I invest hours in helping people I hardly know because I feel that it is “right”, however I also want to build a reputation as being a “good” guy out of hope that it will allow me to build loyalty and ultimately benefit my business.

    However, the issue I have faced is that the vast vast majority of people who I have helped just take the help, say thanks, and ignore me until the next time that they need help. I was wondering what yours thoughts were on this and how to avoid the problem.

    • Jenika on January 18, 2014 at 6:39 pm

      Hi Ryan! Good question. I could probably write a whole post on this issue, but in short, two things:

      First, I believe, and it sounds like you do too, in cultivating goodness for the sake of goodness. And in business, I’m patient with the long game. Sometimes the results of good deeds are fabulously indirect (the person tells someone else, who hires you but doesn’t mention anything). Sometimes I spend a good deal of time answering an email and I don’t even receive so much as a Thank You in reply. But sometimes the person hires me or has me on their podcast. I can never know, and I just plug away.

      Second, of course, you have limited resources to share, so there are a few things you can do. 1) Decide how many folks you can help in a year (say, for having conversations about X). 2) Create a free resource on that issue and offer it to your whole audience, thus increasing the # of people helped and the likely return. 3) Help the person halfway or offer a nice but limited chunk of help, and say “if you want the rest, you can hire me for $X.” 4) Help someone once, and if they return, say “I’m so glad you came back, because of my limited time I can only ____ for my ____ clients. This allows me to focus my energy on really helping people consistently instead of piecemeal. If you’re interested in becoming a ____ client, here’s the scoop: ___________.”

      Here’s another post that may help:

      Good luck Ryan!

  10. Nikolay Mirchev on January 18, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    Very interesting reading. Germany is one of the countries that I always wanted to visit. Beside the beautiful images you captured I really like that you concentrate so much on the human factor, which nowadays more and more people are forgetting about.

  11. Marga on January 20, 2014 at 7:20 am

    Thank you for the great article, now I know how to avoid clients from getting irritated. Nice strategy, did you go to the concert of that man?

  12. Megan DiPiero on January 20, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    You are the queen of helpers. Case in point… this blog. It’s so great that you offered specific blog posts ideas that would allow me to help my clients. And in turn, allow them to see me as an ally. Love it! Thank you!

  13. Mary on March 25, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    This was so, so, so helpful. I can’t thank you enough for what you do.

  14. Tonya Damron on April 23, 2014 at 4:45 am

    love reading this

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