Marketing From a Place of Giving

Image of Giving HandsEditor’s Note: Here is a guest post from someone I respect and admire. Please welcome Sarah Russell from Common Sense Marketing.

Sometimes, I shudder to think how many of my day-to-day thoughts are about me.

Does this shirt look good on me?

Did my co-worker really think my joke was funny?

What am I going to have for dinner tonight?

In fact, if aliens somehow managed to tap into my thoughts, I suspect I’d be pretty embarrassed at how self-involved I’d sound… (Okay, so maybe I’ve been watching a few too many Star Trek re-runs lately!)

The truth is, when I first started out online, I approached marketing from the same self-centered perspective. What niche is going to make me the most money? How can I get subscribers to opt-in to my email list? When will these website visitors hurry up and buy something already so that I can quit my day job and get on with my life?!

The problem with marketing this way is that it’s pretty obvious to your prospects. Some niches are more sensitive to this than others, but most web users are so tired of being sold to that they’ll bolt from your website at the first hint of a pitch.

The solution isn’t to stop selling – it’s to start selling in a way that emphasizes the value and benefit to the visitor, instead of the site owner. I call this marketing from a place of giving.

When you focus on improving your visitor’s life instead of your own, you’ll find that the money-making side of things takes care of itself. The old adage, “Give and ye shall receive,” is more true than most internet business strategists are willing to admit.

Consider the following ways to implement this concept in your marketing efforts:

1. Listen to Your Market – Are you selling the things that your market actually wants, or the things you *think* they should want? When you focus your efforts on understanding your target prospect’s deepest desires and provide them with content and products that meets these needs, you’re going to see a lot more success than you will trying to force them into accepting what you think is the solution to their problems.

When you hit that sweet point and figure out exactly what your target market is looking for, it’s what Michael Scott from The Office would call a win-win-win. Not only will you profit financially from well-targeted products, you’ll come to be respected as an expert in your niche, which will – in turn – lead to even more sales.

2. Be Honest – Start to think in terms of the importance of honesty in retaining a valuable lifetime customer – not the one-time payment you can get from unethically coercing a visitor into buying a single product.

I could go out and write an ebook that promises buyers the “super-secret formula” to make money while they sleep. If you’ve been online for more than a month, you’ve probably seen at least a handful of these sales letters that promise the stars and the moon – all for the low, low cost of $37 (or $47, or $97, or some other price ending in “7”). I’d market my ebook with flashy graphics and compelling headlines – but at the end of the day, if the product doesn’t live up to its hype, I’m never going to see that visitor on my site again.

On the other hand, if I create a valuable product and then market it honestly and ethically, I’ve got a much better shot at retaining the customer – and reaping the benefit of repeat purchases – than if I over-promise and don’t deliver.

3. Over-deliver – So many marketers and website owners do the bare minimum that it’s incredibly refreshing for visitors to find a site that over-delivers. It’s basically the difference between buying a t-shirt at Walmart and one at Bergdorf’s. The customer experience matters, and there are a number of different ways you can over-deliver in this fashion.

To start building this into your site, think about all the different ways you can help your visitor. Could you add more informative content, a FAQ or recommendations that answer their most pressing questions as quickly as possible? Is there a related topic you can cover that will save your visitors the time and effort of seeking out another site with content on that subject?

The more ways you can find to help your visitor, the more often they’ll return the favor with increased referrals and sales.

Now, if you’re just starting out online, this lesson might not seem immediately relevant. After all, how can you over-deliver and market from a place of giving if you don’t even have a website up and running?

Actually, I would argue that this is the most important time to start thinking about the concept of marketing from a place of giving. I’ve found that if you build a website from the ground up that incorporates these principles, you’re going to find success a lot faster than if you waste time (like I did) on sites that only serve yourself.

So what do you think? If you’re just planning your first website, what are your target market’s expectations and how can you over-deliver on them? Or, if you’re an experienced webmaster, are you marketing from a place of giving on your sites?

Sarah Russell is on a mission to bring ethical marketing to everyday people through Common Sense Marketing. She is especially passionate about helping beginning affiliate marketers launch and succeed with their own internet businesses, so stop by for more great tips, tricks and ramblings!

11 Responses to Marketing From a Place of Giving
  1. HP van Duuren
    February 11, 2011 | 10:15 am

    Thanks for your Post,

    You are absolutely right, sometimes on websites you see companies telling things like:

    - We – are a company with many years
    of experience in….., etc. etc.

    ‘Who cares….???’

    They better write something like:

    ‘YOU will get the Best Solutions
    for your Problem at our Company’.

    What listening to Your Market is concerned, for my Writers (Lifestyle) Blog I have chosen to write for writers and since I am a (blog) writer myself I honestly know about some of the needs of writers, like for example the need for frequently taking a Break, like a Coffee Break for example….,

    ‘And Guess What…,’

    Recently I came up with the idea to actually
    (pre) sell Coffee Makers and Espresso Machines
    on that Blog.

    ‘The Best Solution for
    YOUR Writing Inspiration’. :)

    All the Best,
    To your Happy – Online Marketing – Inspiration,

    • Sarah Russell
      February 12, 2011 | 10:55 am

      HP – You’re getting into something else that’s important to mention here – selling benefits instead of features.

      People don’t want to know how many articles you’ve written, how competitive your pricing is, etc – even though these things are important too. What they want to know is how much time it’ll save them to work with you, how many more sales they’ll make as a result of your writing wor, and so on.

      Listening to your market and figuring out what they’re looking for is one of the easiest ways to figure out which benefits will appeal to them most :)

  2. Jon
    February 11, 2011 | 10:35 pm

    Over-delivering and enhancing the customer experience, I like it and agree. Also, retaining a customer for the long haul should be high on the priority list rather than a one-and-done sale. Good point.

    With rapport established and a positive buying experience shared, you’re no longer “selling” a previous buyer. You’re just leading them further down your path of value.

    Thanks for your insight, Sarah.

    • Sarah Russell
      February 12, 2011 | 10:58 am

      Jon – Thanks so much for sharing my post!

      Repeat customers are the best – especially for time-crunched marketers like me :) Less time converting new prospects means more time to focus on other aspects of my business.

      The problem, though, is that it takes time and effort to maintain these relationships and continually overdeliver. From my experience, though, it’s definitely worth it!

      • Jon
        February 13, 2011 | 12:09 am

        Thank you, Sarah. I hear you on time-crunching. It’s funny, many will argue that there’s plenty of time in the day to get things done if you prioritize correctly. I find that even when I do it can be a race against the clock. Work now – play later, right?!

  3. [...] business owners are already using this approach which adds to its expectation but also promotes a marketplace of giving before receiving. Which I believe is great because it gives customers the [...]

  4. Tito Philips, Jnr.
    February 21, 2011 | 7:01 am

    BRILLIANT post Sarah!

    I hate to say this, where is your tweet or facebook share button? I wanted to pass on this article to my followers, because it’s so real.

    I want to commend your courage, so many entrepreneurs these days are running after the get rich quick schemes dominating the internet. I often wonder, in a age where everyone is a selling one thing or the other, how do we know and trust that what they are offering is good?

    This post honestly answered that question. You can only convince me to buy if you are not pushing it in my face and making the purchase sound like your life depended on it. I think the best form of marketing, is giving so much value that the buyer themselves request for your products or services as a result of how much trust your business or brand has gathered over time.

    In other words, don’t sell me, help me!

    • Jon
      February 21, 2011 | 9:19 pm

      Thank you for your comment. I agree that trust has to be established before we sell. Please let me know if you still can’t see the share buttons. Also, which browser are you using?

    • Sarah Russell
      February 22, 2011 | 10:05 am

      Tito – Thanks so much for your kind words :)

      You’re right that there’s a lot of junk online (and honestly, people make a crap ton of money with it), but I think that in the future, we’re going to see a trend towards more honesty, openness and transparency in internet marketing.

      In other words, build the trust and find ways to help people. If you build up a dedicated community this way, the money will follow.

  5. Nikoya
    March 3, 2011 | 7:59 pm

    You brought up a great point. I think the reason why we even choose a niche can shine through our work. Motives are easy to spot online. People can see authenticity from a mile away. Great post :)

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