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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.
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?”
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!