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The return of the art of the soft sell

Let’s face it. Agencies are in the business of selling. Generating leads, building brands, driving clicks, engagement, quotes, foot traffic, responses. Its all selling and selling hard. Achieving objectives and delivering is an agency’s role for our clients. Clients believe in building brands, but results are what our clients, and therefore our service, is measured on.

COVID19 has changed our world (always the understater). So, how do we deliver for our clients now? Is it even a faux pas to mention the word sales now?

In pondering an agency’s role in the coming months to support clients to achieve their sales objectives, we see marketing and advertising has completely pivoted, and it needs to. We can’t be seen to capitalise on the situation, so we must be relevant and supportive. We need to be aware of the tidal wave of recession and unemployment looming. So how do brands with average (and reducing) budgets manage in this time?

Cue the return of the art of the soft sell. The soft sell is the art of presenting your wares in a persuasive manner and (and this is the important bit) walking away. Leaving it with your prospect to come to you when they are ready. The opposite of shouty retail, repetitively banging your prospect on the head with unwanted and irrelevant advertising and infinite calls to action. That stuff is really offensive to consumers right now.

While the soft sell may be considered old school, we can be modern in our approach. Technology and strategies already exist to gently engage consumers, earn their loyalty, and in their own time, fall in love with your product and brand.

Understanding your customer’s buying process and journey is already important. Really knowing it is crucial to the soft sell. Being present at those critical moments in that journey, on or offline, with persuasive, engaging and relevant messaging is going to make the difference in effectiveness.

The sales funnel is our servant rather than our master, and can be adapted to fit your focus. Building an endurance platform rather than an HIT programme will facilitate a steady flow of sales and leads.

Sure, have a call to action. Sure, do a promotion. But do it to the people who are in-market. Be targeted and careful rather than shouty and too broad with messaging.

If you haven’t already, its time to build a brand layer and an always on programme. Its time to critically review your messaging to your existing customers as well as prospects. And if you are not intimate with your customers’ journeys, it’s time to get mapping and begin insight hunting.

And here’s our soft sell….if you need any help with that, give us a call.

Carren Richardson-Park is the strategic director of Charm.

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