Authentic Marketing: hold loosely to agenda

I’ve been thinking about the agenda that many marketers have…

  • Grab your attention with compelling headlines
  • Get you on their email list (often with an “ethical bribe”)
  • Move you through their funnel toward buying
  • Keep following up until you buy
  • Compel you to buy more stuff
  • Incentivize you to refer them to even more buyers

None of the above are bad per se.

What’s not as healthy, I think, is the attachment to the process that the audience must go through, which creates a forcefulness that nobody likes. Therefore, the audience trusts the marketer less…

The motive to manipulate people stems from the illusion of being able to control them.

This may be the biggest mindset change I made in my marketing:

Hold loosely to trying to control one’s audience.

Hold fast to my values.

What I can control is how I embody my values.

There is a choice of priorities here:

Visible results vs. Invisible values.

The more we try to control the visible results in marketing, the more we end up manipulating our audience.

However, the more we prioritize the embodiment of invisible values, the better our heart/conscience feels, and the more trust we naturally build with our audience.

Here’s the overall process:

  1. Clarify our values
  2. Embody it daily in marketing and business
  3. We’ll know we’re doing it because it’ll feel great
  4. Our audience will feel it too, and it improves our brand/reputation over time
  5. This leads organically to clients and word of mouth.

Trying to control things from the other end — focusing on visible lead generation & persuasion — tends to disconnect from our hearts, and deprioritize our values. The result? The audience can feel that disconnection, even if they can’t consciously describe why they don’t trust you.

In other words:

  • Not every post needs a compelling headline
  • Not every piece of content needs a CTA (call to action)
  • Not every marketing action has to be about lead generation or conversion
  • Not every email needs to lead to a sale
  • Not every buyer should be persuaded to buy more from you
  • Not every client has to refer you

Do these things occasionally, not all the time.

And do these things from a bubbling up of genuine enthusiasm​ rather than from an ulterior motive. Sometimes I have a call-to-action at the bottom of my posts to subscribe to my newsletter. Sometimes I don’t. I notice that the more trusting I am of my audience, the less I have calls-to-action. As a result, they tend to trust me more than others who are always trying to get them to take action.

A question I was asked:

“How do you know when to make an offer/invitation in this approach?”

This depends on the business model. For example, I have a rhythm of promoting a new online course once every 1–2 months (depending on the length of the course, as some courses are 1 month, some last for 2 months.) My audience has gotten used to this rhythm, and many of them now actually look for what course I’m teaching any given month.

As for 1–1 clients: my client roster has been consistently full since 1 year after I became consistent with authentic content, but back when I needed to promote my one-to-one service, I would post a gentle invitation to explore working with me every 3–4 weeks. Generally, I recommend 1 invitation/promotion for every 5–15 pieces of content. Whatever the promotional rhythm is, it’s got to feel good to you, and make sense to your audience, i.e. they understand and appreciate your business model.

When I follow up with potential clients (when I used to have to do this), I never tried to “wear them down” until they finally say Yes. Instead, I saw my follow-up as a courtesy reminder about the opportunity to work with me, in case they have been busy with other things, and to give them the chance to ask me any questions. It’s out of courtesy and convenience for them, and a genuine feeling that I like them, not out of a need to “get” them to say yes.

Another question by a reader:

“How do you end up getting clients, even if you don’t have a tight hold on it?”

I’ve written several posts about how to get clients authentically, or you could read my book on Authentic Selling

Here is the overall idea:

By (1) consistently posting authentic content with the motive to explore my message further and serving my audience’s needs better, and then (2) occasionally posting gentle invitations, (3) I notice that client inquiries appear consistently. (4) I study the approximate rhythm of these inquiries, and plan my revenue on the actual reality of this rhythm… rather than set a fantasy goal and force my audience through a funnel to try to achieve my egoically-projected numbers. (5) Over time, as I strengthen my authentic voice and make my content more helpful to my audience, the client inquiries tend to grow. I keep re-adjusting my revenue projections occasionally, based on current realities.

The key?

Focus daily on the invisibles (values such as authenticity, connection, generosity), and occasionally offer a genuinely-felt invitation/promotion. Do this and we tend to get excellent results long-term. Sometimes, results come quickly… but the short-term is not what we try to control.

Control your daily focus: Embody your core values, and allow the visible results to take care of themselves.

A much much wiser one said this: “Seek first the kingdom of God, and the rest shall be given to you.” (Jesus)

Above everything else in your business, prioritize bringing your higher self as you show up everyday, and allow your metrics to grow organically.

Originally published at www.georgekao.com.

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