Are You Telling or Selling?

I don’t have much of a post today. I’m sleep-deprived from my newborn‘s late-night party habits and juggling new projects, old projects and 2012 planning at work.

But I do have a question for us all to consider:

Are you telling or selling?

. . . Are you telling stories in your marketing that inspire, educate or entertain? Or just selling your wares?

. . . Is your content helping your buyers? Or is it just helping you?

. . . Are you focusing on your buyers’ needs or your own?

I mean come on, selling is so yesterday. It’s tired. It’s boring. And frankly, it is often more than a little bit offensive. But selling-behavior is insidious. It’s easy to think that talking about yourself is the best way to sell. That’s why marketing and selling effectively is really hard.

We all know that the “traditional marketing playbook is dead!” but have we stepped up to learn the new playbook?

I have written a series of articles to address the issues that arise from telling vs. selling but they all come down to this one biggest mistake marketers make: Making it all about you instead of your audience. In fact, I think “audience-first” should be the mantra of every marketer.

And if you say that we should focus on results, I agree with that. Focusing on your audience will drive better results. We also label our audiences and use internal terms and keywords they don’t use. And we think we know better which media our buyers use.

Now if you’re reading this post, you probably already get this. You’ve probably never made these marketing mistakes and intuitively get that what we produce needs to tell a good story.

So help me get the word out. Help me to make the case that change is coming to B2B Marketing! Because the most successful marketing will always be the stuff that best helps our audiences through the use of insightful, entertaining or inspiring stories.

Finally, do you have any favorite examples of great telling or bad selling? Please share…

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Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group. He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and a top CMO influencer by Forbes. Please follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and Subscribe here for regular updates.

11 thoughts on “Are You Telling or Selling?

  1. Never thought of selling anything so far, though love to inspire, educate and share the knowledge with my readers. I prefer keeping posts related to what my audience likes, more than about selling my things or promoting what I want to sell, though I like what you mentioned also.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. I’m glad I came across your post. It’s led me to some of your other articles and they’re giving me a much needed inspirational boost at just the right time. Just what I needed to refocus. Thanks!

  3. This is a great reminder to sales people and marketers everywhere. I was nodding my head through the entire piece.

    The ultimate objective of marketing is to generate revenue. Often we get so focused on the work that we loose sight of this and begin to think of marketing in a silo. Your message should move your prospects closer to a decision to purchase and your efforts to offer insight, entertain or inspire will serve this purpose better today than a “speeds and feeds” pitch of all the great features your product has to offer.

    1. Hi Mike, I agree with you completely. Marketing must fully support the needs of the business and help acquire new customers. It is *how* we do that, that can get us into trouble at times.

  4. Have you ever thought about writing an ebook or guest authoring on other websites? I have a blog based upon on the same ideas you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my visitors would appreciate your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e mail.

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