When you analyze the business plan of any company, there is always going to be a go-to-market component and a strategy to bring the product to its relevant audience. That strategy, if planned properly, should include a sales component and a marketing component.

Both sales and marketing, at the end of the day, need to sell the product. If your sales team isn't selling, then they are failing, and if your marketing efforts don't yield sales, it is failing too. So if both sales and marketing have the same ultimate goal, what is the difference between the two?

In one word? Subtlety.

Put simply, sales is more direct: "Here is my product, it is great because of these three features. Buy it." Marketing is more subtle. And to be clear, I'm not talking about performance marketing -- advertising, I am talking about all other types of marketing, including branding, social media, PR, content, and on and on. Be subtle, tell me a story, get my heart pounding, and don't be a salesman. 

Here are a few examples of how subtlety manifests itself in marketing:

A press release is not a sales document.

A press release is a good reflection of your messaging as a whole. If you have a story to tell and you want that story covered by the press, sending a document about how your company is revolutionizing the world and how your product is the best thing since sliced bread will never work.

Let the product sell itself. Tell the journalist the story, the facts, and leave the superlatives out. If the product is as strong as you think it is, it will do the job without your fancy marketing lingo to accompany it.

By writing a press release that is more fact-oriented, one that tells the actual story, you are more likely to get a story that exceeds what you would have written had the press release been focused on how great your product is. Let the journalist, and by extension, your audience reach the conclusion about how great you are, by themselves, without you shoving it down their throats. Be subtle.

Don't ask me to promote you -- give me a reason to.

Whether you are on Facebook, Twitter, or any other platform, asking someone to promote you is basically you trying to cut corners and use shortcuts. Presumably, the person you are asking to tweet about you or your product has a large following, or else you wouldn't be asking them. Stop and think how they got that large audience, and you will quickly realize they got there by being valuable, and not by asking others to promote them.

This applies to asking for likes, begging for retweets, or any other form of promotion. If you provide your audience with great value, they will ultimately promote you without you asking. When the decision is theirs, the actual promotion will be more heartfelt, more authentic, and by definition, more effective.

Don't cut corners. Invest the time needed to offer real insights. People will be more inclined to promote you. Be subtle.

Give others a stage, then enjoy the spot right next to them.

This point deserves an entire article by itself, but for now, the concept is fairly simple. Instead of writing a blog post about how amazing you are, and giving yourself a stage, promote others and their work. Give them the stage and what ends up happening is that you share that stage.

Imagine every Tuesday, on your company blog, you interview a thought leader in your space. By giving them a stage, you are strengthening your relationship, which is the first return on your investment. The second return is that as soon as you publish that interview-- which might include five questions and answers sent by email-- that person, who has a large and very relevant following, shares that article. Traffic.

Finally, the third result of an interview is that you increase your brand by aligning it with that industry name you just interviewed.

Instead of using your platform to self-promote, use it to promote others and you will end up gaining in the long run. With subtlety.

Published on: Jun 3, 2019
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