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What is the most annoying sound in marketing?

We’re bombarded in Houston by the hard sell every day, whether we are ready to make a purchase at the time or are just casually looking to see what’s out there. From department stores, to car dealerships, to magazines and TV programming, to the internet, we can’t escape the push to sell us something.

The hard sell has even come to blogging. Can you think of anything more unpleasant than an overt sales pitch when you’re looking for information to help you make a decision? Most probably you cover your ears and run for the woods, leaving the pitchman in the dust.
Are your customers any different from you?

It used to be blogging was all about reaching out to people, sharing, and building a community. In your face selling didn’t even enter the blogger’s mind. If you discovered a cool, new product, you might make one or two posts. Blogging wasn’t pitch after pitch. The really good blogs had plenty of traffic, and bloggers made money without hard selling anything.

In the rush to sell, companies have forgotten the customer. They are so focused on closing the sale, and use their blogs to hard-sell the customer. They have forgotten the motivations for why people prefer a certain brand or buy from a particular salesperson.
Among other factors, people buy because

  • Like and trust the company or salesperson
  • Have a need for the product
  • Perceive value from buying the product

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When you look at it from the customer’s viewpoint, blogging is a good way to find out the customer’s initial interest. A company blog allows customers to ask questions and you to address your products singly, and in depth.

Addressing questions and providing useful information without a sales pitch does wonders for your branding efforts. Blogging is one platform that businesses can use to put a person behind the company image. People have a tendency to form relationships with people rather than the company.

Think about it for a minute. Just how many times have you said XYZ is a great company because you really liked the customer service person who resolved your problem or a repair tech that went out of his or her way to explain the issues instead of just looking and handing you an estimate? It wasn’t the company you liked; it was the person behind the company.

The reasons not to hard sell in your blog are easy to see if you go back to the basics – reaching out, sharing, and community – of blogging. Hard selling is a detriment to your blogging efforts to attract new customers in many ways.

  1. Using your blog to hard sell destroys your credibility. You tell your customers that you are interested in them and what they want. But just exactly how honest is your statement if your customers only see pitch after pitch?
  2. Hard selling overloads customers’ senses. Often a hard sale requires you to bombard the customer with information. But did you know that people process new information in trios? Most people can only digest 3 pieces of new information at one time.
  3. Hard selling destroys customer perception of concern. Hard selling is telling a customer that you think they’re lazy so they’ll make a quick decision to buy. You’re telling them that you think they aren’t smart enough to make an informed decision.
  4. Hard selling erases value. Your customers must believe that they are getting something more than just the product. If they have to wade through all your attempts to get them to buy before finding the information that they need, they probably won’t receive any value for their efforts to directly connect with you.
  5. Hard selling torpedoes your public face.

Sharing and establishing a community is what blogging hopes to achieve. High pressure, in-your-face selling destroys the rapport your blog creates with your reader. If you turn something useful into a sales pitch, people aren’t likely to trust you enough to return, much less buy anything or share your post.

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