Suddenly Marketing

Brand Messaging | Content Strategy | Writing

Marketing is just making friends

Conversation, NYC, 1970

What do you think of when you hear the word “marketing?”

Does your brain fill with thoughts of “sales” and “squeeze” pages, opt-in mailing lists, bait content, lead generation, lead nurturing, the sales funnel, the sales continuum, branding, personas, social strategy, audience building, content development, vertical niches, market trends, competitive analysis, traffic analytics, SEO, SEM, PPC, CPC, ROI?

Do you even know what those things are? Does the thought of them give you a case of vertigo?

If all that marketing-ese makes your head spin and your heart pound, I have good news for you. It’s not that complicated. Marketing is just making friends. You know how to make friends, right?

Amidst all the technical, psychological, and sociological trappings of modern marketing, one constant remains true: people buy from people they like. Think about your own buying decisions. Whether it’s a local baker who chats with you about your shared interest in musical theatre while you’re picking out your dinner rolls, or the international brand that supports a cause that is close to your heart, your buying decisions almost always include a “likeability” factor along with other, more tangible things like product quality, availability, and price.
“Sure,” you say, “I get that, but how can I apply it to my own marketing?”

Start by putting those dehumanizing sales funnel images out of your head for a minute. They have their place, but – let’s be honest – there’s nothing friendly about sucking someone into a giant funnel. Instead, think about how you make a new personal friend. There are dozens of ways, but one scenario might go something like this:

  • Hang out in the same places
  • Know some of the same people
  • Say “hi”
  • Connect directly (maybe online through Facebook or LinkedIn)
  • Share coffee
  • Invite the person to a group event
  • Get together – just the two of you – to get to know each other better

Here’s how that might translate into Real World marketing:

  • Visit the same coffee shop
  • Have some of the same acquaintances – maybe the barista or a fellow patron
  • Make small talk in the line waiting for your java
  • Decide, after a few chance meetings, to exchange contact info
  • Share a table and more conversation – this time more about what you both do
  • Invite the person to a local event – a business talk, fundraiser, school event, cultural happening
  • Get together to talk about a project or how your services might help your new friend

And here’s how it might look online:

  • Read the same blogs, participate in the same forums, belong to the same LinkedIn or Facebook groups
  • Have some common friends, followers, or connections on various social networks
  • Engage in some dialog – maybe in the comments section of a blog or through a retweet on Twitter
  • Friend/follow/connect/subscribe to each other
  • Share more in-depth information – maybe through an E-book, E-mail exchange, or some combination
  • Invite the person to participate in a group event – webinar, teleclass, etc.
  • Get together one-on-one to work on a project

Is it making sense? Not so scary when you think about it that way, right?

Now, there are endless variables and mutations on the process and the actual conversations, but this basic “flow” is a pretty good place to start thinking about how you might create your own natural marketing groove. I’ll dive more deeply into details and techniques in a future post, but – for now – I’d love to know how this concept makes you feel about your own marketing challenges.

Image Credit: Dave Gilbert


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  1. Hi Jamie,

    Love your personal approach to marketing.

    Marketing your business or service should be as fun and engaging as you describe above. I think it is scarier to market something that you don’t believe in 100% because it does not feel as human and as natural to share it in a “natural” way.

    However, if you are deeply connected to the source of your offering then you know that you are really providing people with an opportunity to benefit in one or multiple ways and sharing it in a “making friends way” is the most genuine (and fun) method.

    Thank you for sharing this post and making this often abstract concept more real.

    I love your blog Jamie!

    • Jamie

      Being 100% behind your offer is key – great point. I used to work at a traditional advertising agency and I used to get totally freaked out each time I had to present to a client. After a while, I realized that my anxiety was due to not believing in what I was pitching. That was pretty much the end of that for me.

      If what you’re offering is your own, marketing should be heartfelt and fun. It should come naturally as a way of sharing your passion and your gifts. Absolutely!

      Thanks – as always – for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

  2. What a relief to hear marketing talked about in human terms! Thank you.

    • Jamie

      Sandra – :) The core of marketing is always human … after all it’s humans who make the products, offer the services, do the marketing, and ultimately make the purchases. Unfortunately, it’s also often humans who over-complicate the process! Glad to have you here.

  3. Jamie, I agree with you here. Sadly people seem to forget the personal touch to marketing, especially in the service business. Something as simple as a smile followed by a nice conversation goes a long way. I hate watching people avoiding eyecontact and looking at the floor. I can’t tell you how many connections I have made business wise by just taking a couple minutes each day.

  4. Jamie Lee

    You’re right. And finding ways to create those personal, human moments through an online experience can be even more challenging. But, when someone makes the effort, it shines through the impersonal competition like gold!

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