Marketing without the hard sell

One of the things I adore about what I do is the opportunities I get to work with so many inspired entrepreneurs. Some are at the very beginning of their journey: full of ideas, ambition and that wonderfully infectious start-up energy. Others may be running really well established businesses and are overflowing with vision for what's next. I love helping both sides bring their vision to fruition. It's inspiring and I'm very lucky to be able to call something I love so much work.

Very often, my consultancy work will feed into ideas for an online course or a book. And sometimes, of course, it's the discussions I'll have when I'm doing a Q&A or running a workshop that inspire an idea for new content. Listening is at the very heart of all of this and really feeds my inspiration.

A better way of doing business

I'm often contacted for advice, and whilst I don't have the resources to respond personally, you can be sure I'm always listening. When I see a theme starting to emerge, it'll often be the catalyst for a new blog post, workshop or even a book.

As I'm sure many of you did, I returned to work last Monday to a pretty full inbox. And whilst the messages below may not seem remotely related, reading between the lines, I could see a clear theme holding many of the emails together.

‘I’m struggling to sell my workshops. All the advice I’m getting feels really formulaic and I’ve had quite a visceral reaction to it. I just want to focus on doing brilliant work’
‘I’m at the point where I just want to jack it all in and start again. I’m tired of working with picky clients who don’t appreciate the work we put in to what we do’


‘I’m looking for advanced strategies to help me sell out my workshops and courses’


‘I just can’t settle on a name for my business’

Whilst at first glance these all seem thoroughly unrelated, I could see a clear thread running through all of them. All of these challenges are to do with finding your magic.

Identify exactly what it is that makes your company phenomenally unique, communicate that with a passion and flair to people who really value what you do and you're on to a winner.

Start with the magic

Once you understand precisely what it is that makes your business utterly, irresistibly brilliant you have the beginnings of a truly powerful marketing strategy.

If you sell services, that means absolutely locking down what it is that makes your business uniquely brilliant. The Brand Clarity workbook will walk you through this and is free to download.

If you're in the business of selling your creative services: perhaps you're an interior, web or graphic designer; a photographer, florist or wedding planner maybe, then you need to start with nailing down your creative style. Put this front and centre. Edit to amplify. Showcase what you do with passion and flair.

Once you find your magic, marketing becomes easy.

Modern marketing for visionary entrepreneurs

Instead of hideous formulaic sales tactics and promotions driven by desperation, you can share your work with enthusiasm to your tribe. Instead of feeling like you're constantly at the mercy of your clients, you can collaborate, build your confidence and take your business from strength to strength.

This is modern marketing for visionary entrepreneurs.

Marketing without the hard sell

  1. Modern marketing begins with finding clarity within your brand. Those who do this well understand what they stand for. They understand their aesthetic, their style and what they bring to the world. They are passionate about what they do. Goodness: they're brilliant at what they do. They're ambitious, they want to be the best in their field and they'll make damned sure they put in the work to get there.

  2. Have the confidence to niche. The truth is, you can't be brilliant at everything. So have the confidence to start saying no, to projects and clients who just aren't a good fit with your unique talents. To people who drain your energy and sap your confidence. You'll find your business is infinitely the stronger for it.

  3. Modern marketers curate. They know what message they want to put out into the world, who they want to attract and what they want to be known for. They edit their portfolio to show only the work they want more of. Only the work they know they do better than anyone else.

  4. Be strong. It takes a certain amount of vision and bravery to curate your messages and your offering. You need to run your business like a creative director, making sure everything you put out pulls in the same direction. That you stand for something. That you own your space.

  5. Identify exactly who your ideal clients are. And by the way, it's not 'females 25-45 with plenty of disposable income' it's more focused than that, more tangible, more visceral. Take the time to understand what makes them tick and what motivates them to do business with you. Why will they pick you over anyone else?

  6. Build a tribe. This is at the very heart of marketing without the hard sell. This is why I've never, ever spent money on Google Adwords or social media promotions. Isn't it more powerful to create products and services your loyal tribe are chomping at the bit for, than try to convert cold leads who are coming upon you for the first time? Building a tribe takes time but it's essential. Focus on building trust by adding value, demonstrating your expertise and showcasing work you've done for others to build desire.

  7. Understand your tribe. Really understand what makes them tick. Listen to them. What can you see through your experienced eyes they need that they don't even realise? How can you best inspire them and you? The most powerful work happens at that intersection between your best work and the needs and desires of your most loyal clients.

  8. Build momentum. Share your work with passion and enthusiasm, show what you're up to, give behind the scenes previews, bring people along on your journey. It's exciting, inspiring and it shows the level of thought you put in to what you do. It also creates a level of desire that's more powerful than any aggressively written squeeze page. It sets people up for a positive journey with you.

  9. Showcase why you're brilliant. Tell stories on your blog and your instagram around what you've done for your clients, why you've done it and what the result was. That doesn't mean and you need to always share the numbers, how your client felt as a result of working with you is really powerful.

  10. Price properly. When you build a successful, sustainable business and you're working from a place of confidence, inspiration and expertise, you don't need to rush out products or services to pay the bills. You don't need to take on the wrong clients or rush out knee jerk email campaigns in a desperate attempt to keep the wheels turning. Take a step back and review your business as a whole to ensure you're giving yourself the very best chance of success.

  11. Create tools that do the hard work for you. In chapter six of Brand Brilliance, Beyond Brilliant, we look at some incredibly powerful tools that enable you to demonstrate your expertise, showcase the value you add and convert your ideal clients whilst elegantly filtering out those who aren't a good fit. Well-written, thoughtfully constructed media kits are a great start. Also think about the copy on your website, what's in your proposals and the way you present your work to your clients. It all matters.

  12. Ask for the order. This isn't about not trying. It's about feeling like you're not desperate - for you and your clients. It's about talking to your clients with the respect and engagement they deserve. So be specific, drive action, ask for the order at the end of your copy. Signpost your reader, tell them what to do next. You just don't need to do this at the end of every instagram post. You don't need to bludgeon them with a wet fish. You can be elegant and stylish and graceful and guide your prospective clients rather than shout at them.

  13. Stay inspired. When you love what you do, it shows. Share your work with enthusiasm and that passion for your work will become infectious. To your team, your clients and your biggest advocates. Your inspiration, passion for what you do and your vision are some of your greatest assets. Be careful who you listen to. Guard your inspiration and your creative confidence fiercely.