Last month, I went to a Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce event where the speaker, Brynne Tillman, delivered a keynote on using LinkedIn for social selling. Excellent presentation, by the way, even for the most experienced LinkedIn users.
One of her recommendations for following up with a new contact after a networking event is to connect on LinkedIn and share content that the person would find useful and relevant.
Brynne pointed out that networkers often make the mistake of turning this helpful gesture into what amounts to a sales pitch.
In other words, it would be a terrible idea for me to send a link to an article and end my message with something like, “Would you like to schedule a call to go over your website content or discuss how we can get your blog off the ground?”
Brynne said to think of the content you’re sharing as a gift. Don’t expect something in return. Just deliver something of value, literally, to start the new relationship on the right foot.
I see quite a few companies and marketers making the same mistake with their marketing content. Blog articles, newsletters, videos, emails, and other content are basically sales pitches wrapped up (pun intended) as helpful tips, insights, best practices, or how-to guides.
The problem is, you’re not fooling anyone with this approach. They know exactly what your intent is.
That’s the keyword here. Intent.
If someone believes your intent is in any way self-serving, they immediately raise their guard up. They’re more suspicious of the claims you make and less likely to believe you.
Those concerns are justified because you weren’t upfront or transparent about your intent. Maybe you were deceptive or flat-out dishonest.
Ironically, any chance at a sale was lost, thanks to a lame sales pitch.
Think of Your Content as a Gift
If you want people to believe and trust your brand, develop marketing content with the right intent.
Focus on providing your audience with useful information. Educate them. Provide a solution to a problem. Share a relatable story. Be authentic. Take a stance on an issue and back it up with sound reasoning.
Approach your content with a mindset that says, “This is how I can help people,” not “This is how I can get them to buy something.”
When your intent is to help and not to sell, your audience will be much more open to what you have to say. They’ll be more likely to believe you and perceive your brand as a credible, trustworthy source of information.
A Call-to-Action Is Still Okay If…
Content intended to help people can still have a call-to-action at the end. After all, a call-to-action isn’t necessarily a sales pitch.
A call-to-action should tell someone not only what to do next, but how they’ll benefit by taking that action. If your content was delivered with the right intent, the call-to-action is just an extension of that message. It’s an offer to help.
On the other hand, if you say something silly like “call today to save 15% on XYZ,” you’ve reverted to sales mode. You’ve shown your intent is self-serving. And you’ve blown any trust your content may have created.
Clarify Your Intent
Suppose you think your intent is to help but your audience thinks you’re trying to sell. Guess whose opinion matters more.
Make sure your intent is crystal clear. Leave no room for doubt. Run your marketing content past someone who’s not connected with your brand just to be sure.
Think of it this way. Just about everybody would welcome a little help in some area of their life. Just about nobody wants to be subjected to a sales pitch.
Make your content a gift. Lose the pitch.