Small Businesses Can Use Social Media Without Being Salesy or Pushy

Caricature of the "slimy" salesman

What does marketing to increase your sales look like to you? Just because you are proactive in promoting your business via social media marketing doesn’t mean that you will suddenly morph into the caricature of a slimy salesperson.

Learn why small businesses with big hearts can be successful social media marketers

My clients include small businesses owners – coaches, wellness counselors and artists. The most common concern they share with me is how to use social media without coming across as too salesy or pushy. To them “marketing” means a lot of hype and shameful self-promotion, the exact opposite of how they want to come across to their prospective customers.

As a social media consultant, my role is to shed light on the limitations these business owners are setting for themselves – and to help them embrace and enjoy using social media marketing as a means to connect with customers, colleagues and other individuals with shared passions and interests.

If you have the same fears about coming across like a used car salesman, here’s what I tell my clients. I hope my advice helps you see social media marketing in a different light.

Challenge and change your social media marketing mindset

First, it’s not about you, it’s about your customers, and how your product or service is of value to them.

You are a small business owner with a product or service to offer. There are people out there who need that product and service. Why not make it easier for them to find you?

No matter your business and your target market, social media offers a smorgasbord of options for you to connect by blogging, tweeting, pinning and/or linking to any number of materials online, like articles, coupons, ebooks, newsletters, pdfs, photos, images and infographics.

Small businesses like yours use their blog and their social media profiles on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn or Pinterest and more, any number of ways to help keep current and potential customers aware of promotions and special offers, new products or services or upcoming events.

Let’s do a small visioning exercise. What images come to mind when you think about promoting your business via a blog or social media profiles? What do you tell yourself? What beliefs make those messages either positive or negative? True or untrue?

Just because you are proactive in promoting your business via social media marketing doesn’t mean that you will suddenly morph into Irwin Mainway, Dan Ackroyd’s slimey SNL character who peddled ridiculously unsafe “children’s toys,” like “Bag O’ Glass,” “Mr. Skin Grafter” and “General Tranh’s Secret Police Confession Kit.” I promise.

What does marketing to increase your sales look like to you? If your thoughts tend toward negative self-talk or icky images, replace them with ones of you feeling good about steering a potential customer to a helpful resource, product or service – yours or someone else’s. Then picture either getting a sale, a comment of thanks or an endorsement in return. Sure, this may not happen 100% of the time in social media marketing, but if you’re not doing anything yet in this arena, it’s 100% more than you are getting now!

Consider your virtual studio, workshop – wherever you do business – as no different than any brick and mortar storefront. It’s just that with social media marketing, each day brings you the potential to get tons more exposure, exponentially more customers and ongoing sales, and the fun of meeting and exchanging with people across the world – all without leaving the comfort of your office.

What’s your social media marketing mindset now? I hope you feel energized and motivated by all the possibilities these interactions can bring you and your business. My clients do.

Put your business first: Why social media marketing isn’t selling out

Remember, you are a business. If you don’t earn an income, your product/service won’t be available for a customer to buy. Your success is their success. Don’t sabotage your success at their cost. You both lose.
Through social media marketing, small businesses can gain a lot by simply listening to what their target customers are saying. Social media is about sharing. Brand buzz occupies a big part of the social space. Listening will tell you about needs, concerns, likes and dislikes. All this market research is available to you for free 24/7. Plus new resources are added ongoing.

Research delivered to small business owners direct via computer.

Small business owners can use social media to find studies, reports, blog posts that are free and offer specific information on business trends and target clients.

On a daily basis, you have access to studies, reports, blog posts that can provide you with specific information on your business, industry, target clients.

For example, if your customers are mainly women, you might be interested in this study done by Marketing Profs: Women in 2013: Life, Career, and Shopping Satisfaction Trends.

Among the highlights: What women value most besides price are:

  • Reliability (87%)
  • Trustworthiness (82%)
  • Excellent customer service (81%).

Women, particularly Boomer women, are more likely than men to make marketplace choices based on a company’s brand values (e.g. environmentally friendly, gives back to community).

As part of an online community, you have the opportunity to share news or contributions, and directly ask and answer questions in real time.

Never has it been so easy or so affordable for small businesses to connect directly with their target markets, colleagues and the media.

Think of the social network as a limitless knowledge base. Ask questions. Get answers. Contribute to the discussion. Be yourself. Have fun.

Entrepreneur working at home on computer

Do you believe in yourself and what your business offers? If you are true to your voice and brand, then you have built-in detectors that will tell you when you might be veering outside your comfort zone into “salesy,” “pushy” territory.

Tap into your voice, your brand and the power of social media

Do you believe in yourself and what you offer? Of course you do, or you wouldn’t be a small business with a big heart. So make sure you let customers know that.

You have a unique voice and brand, whether you know this or not, and these are very powerful, positive marketing tools.

If you are true to your voice and brand, then you have built-in detectors that will tell you when you might be veering outside your comfort zone into “salesy,” “pushy” territory.

Trust yourself. Trust your instincts. You will attract customers who share your values.

Have advice to share or a question on social media marketing?

If you are a small business owner with advice to share on how you use social media marketing without feeling too salesy or pushy, please share below ! Your experience can help someone else. Or if you are a small business owner that is feeling uncomfortable or has a question about social media marketing, I’m here to help! If you prefer, you can also contact me directly.

About Alison Cummings

Business Writing, Copywriting, Content Marketing.
Communications + Marketing + Technical Expertise.