Conventional marketing has been primarily about one-way push promotion. Attraction marketing offers a more authentic alternative. After decades of sanitised hot air, the opportunity to listen to authentic people is a breeze of fresh air.
Historically, marketing conveys a typical message: “We will tell you about our great products. We don’t know you but we know you need us. We are perfect. We are total experts.”
Messages tend to be sugar-coated, clichéd and safe. The good things are hyped to the max and the daggy bits swept under the carpet. In extreme cases, spin is synonymous with lies.
Attraction, authenticity and related concepts of conversations, relationships and storytelling have been written about by many of the business thinkers of our time: Tom Peters, the authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto and Seth Godin to name a few.
Attraction marketing requires that you put your real self – your personality, passions and opinions – into your business and let that shine forth. You let the world decide whether it wants to interact with you or not. It is non-aggressive and non-pushy. There is no pretence of perfection or denial of humanity.
Someone once said: “You don’t have to be everything to everyone. You just need to be something to someone.” Are you passionate about what you do? Does your business stand for something? Can you share heartfelt anecdotes from your work?
Most of us are attracted to and find it easier to trust a real person. As we spend more and more of our lives on the Internet, it is harder to maintain fake personas. Like it or not, the parts of ourselves on Facebook, Del.icio.us and Blogger all combine to reveal who we truly are. So we may as well be authentic to start with.
Authenticity has many other advantages. If someone is attracted to who I am, they already understand how I think and work. This greatly eases the relationship building process. If I am okay with being myself, I can focus my attention and efforts on delivering value. The alignment of brand promises, vision, passion and operational processes is what makes a strong brand – one that has integrity and will stand out.
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Attraction marketing is most valuable for services where a trust-based relationship is critical for success; such as a medical specialist, a financial consultant or a therapist. Attraction marketing can work for you if your value delivery processes:
- Include some client education;
- Require an engagement period beyond “the sale”;
- Produce customised outcomes for each customer; and
- Utilise specialist knowledge and soft-skills.
If your offering does not fall into a clearly defined silo – and we are seeing more of these untraditional hybrid practices – attraction can work well as your primary marketing approach. My own work sits in the intersection of technology, design, communications, psychology, branding and business processes. Promotion won’t work as well here because there are not many existing and well known practices I can compare myself to.
You can apply attraction to all your current marketing communications simply by changing your attitude. Be true to yourself and consistent with your values. Choose to engage with others openly and with good intentions. Don’t hide or censor disagreements or problems. Business is personal. So be a person!
Some of the challenges of using attraction marketing are:
- Fear – it is incredibly scary to be real in a world so used to hiding behind spin.
- Confidence – it takes time to build up the confidence to stand up for who you are and what you believe in.
- Time – it takes time for the world to find and get to know you and then to entrust you with work.
- Hard work – working towards a congruent, emotionally mature and integrated self is bloody hard and endless work.
- Faith – When times are bad and no-one seems to hear what we are saying, it is easy to lose faith in your cause.
Promotion, especially the hard-sell, will probably remain useful for commodity sales; where differentiation is practically non-existent and price is the overwhelming deciding factor. Like light bulbs, nail salons and banks.
If promotion has worked well for you so far, there is no reason to stop it cold. You could gradually make your messages more authentic and build up new avenues for your customers to get to know the real you.
Are you ready to make attraction marketing work for you?