Give, Give, Then Ask
Let's talk about psychology for a minute. What is the natural human defense against the feeling of being sold to? I worked as a car salesman for two years. I sold hundreds of cars during that period and met with thousands of potential buyers. One of the biggest lessons I learned in an industry that generally scares the public was that comfortability and authenticity was king.
I quickly observed how much pressure was on the sales team to sell, sell, sell! As a young man, I put heavy emphasis on doing just that. And for those first few months, I had lost myself the moment I stepped into work. I pushed the hard sell in an attempt to fulfill the goal that "x" amount of cars had to be sold.
Want to guess how those first few months went? Dreadful. I thought I was playing the game the right way. In actuality, I was making my customers feel uncomfortable. I was playing the sales game right but didn't realize there’s a specific time and place for that hard sell mentality to achieve results. I was missing the psychology aspect entirely.
They wanted to feel at ease, no pressure, and like they had a trustworthy friend with their best interest at heart. After I made this discovery, the following months were much more successful. The tip came from my used car manager at the time, Jeff Grote. The advice was simple, “Make a friend, sell a car.” Essentially, if you could get the buyer to like you as a human, your chances of selling them a vehicle went up exponentially, regardless of your inventory, pricing, etc.
This concept is universal to the game of life and all its facets. On social media, there is a disproportionate amount of “hard sell mentality” going on at all times. Companies that you have a small emotional connection to are trying to sell you something 24 hours a day in every corner of the internet. This is a major turn-off and does absolutely no justice for a brand. It’s spammy, obnoxious, and greed-filled.
If you're doing this, and even if it “works,” and sells your product to some people, you have gained no ground in attracting that customer to become an active member of your community. They're not a fan of your brand, they won’t interact with you on social media, and they will absolutely not tell their friends about you.
Now flip the script. Take a look at brands that have taken the opposite approach. The approach of building an authentic community, engaging that community, giving back to that community, and bleed passion for their fans. Brands like Barstool Sports, Liquid Death, and Pre-Internet exemplify this to a “T.” These brands achieve two things after laying and building upon this amazing foundational work.
They are bringing in revenue at a similar rate or better than the contrary approach of sell, sell, sell!
They are effectively immunizing their brand to any market hardships that come their way.
Let’s delve into number two for a minute. Think about companies who sell on social media. The three companies used as examples will fit in this scenario as well. What happens to them if Instagram heavily changes its algorithm. Let’s say they change it to favor individuals instead of brands so that brand content isn't seen nearly as much as before.
Fortunately for these guys, they have built a foundation strong enough to have current fans willing to follow them wherever they go. If Instagram limits their abilities, fans siphon off to their website, app, or another social platform where they have a presence and curate content.
Building a brand gives you control of your own business. Once you’ve built a strong brand, you're no longer at the mercy of Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok to get exposure. You aren’t at the mercy of Amazon to convert sales. And you don’t need distributors like Walmart to get your product purchased.
Because you focused on the depth of your connection with your community rather than the width, they are exponentially more receptive to your “ask” (aka how well you know your community vs how many of them there are).
The only mom and pop, brick and mortars who survived COVID were the ones who spent the time and hard work earning undying loyalty from their community. Regrettably, we just witnessed hundreds of thousands of small businesses close their doors. Small restaurant operations were primed to fail during 2020 with indoor dining being forcefully shut for an extended period. How do you think those who survived did? The community. The community stepped up, ordered to-go meals regularly, and shared that restaurant with their FB friends in an effort to keep them afloat. That, and that alone was enough to save another hundred thousand businesses from going under.