Marketing is like rowing a boat. When you know how the
pointed bow moves smoothly forward through the water
encountering the least amount of resistance. Rowing
backwards, the square stern of the boat pushes against the
water, requiring more effort and increases the risk of
having a wave come over the transom (back) and swamping
Yet most people market backwards, trying to grow their
business while pushing against the greatest level of
Wouldn’t you like to market your business so that it moved
What’s the first thing most people do to increase sales of
their products, services? They put together a description of
their credentials. Then they pick up the phone, run an ad
campaign, send out a brochure and or build a web site and
ask people to buy.
Do you know anyone who has used this approach?
Have you tried it yourself?
Were you happy with the number of new clients and
It’s a common misperception that the fastest way to attract
more clients and customers is to focus on asking people to
buy. It looks like the obvious route, but in most cases it
generates only a trickle of new clients for small business
owners. It can work if you’re a large company with millions
of dollars to spend building your brand. Why doesn’t this
selling approach work for service professionals and small
A sale is the end point or one of the waypoints in your
relationship with a client. Before they are ready to give
you their money prospects need to be confident that you
what they want, and they trust your product or service will
deliver on your promises.
When you lead with a focus on selling and your credentials
you run into high levels of resistance. It is like trying to
row a boat backwards.
Marketing is about building relationships, one by one. Start
by focusing on what your prospect wants, not on yourself.
Think about it. When you pick up the phone or encounter a
friend, what’s one of the first things you say? Do you
launch into a monologue about yourself? Most people
start the conversation with a friendly questions or two and
then find a topic of mutual interest. If you have
information your friend is interested in, you share it.
I frequently get calls from people who say they hate
marketing. Why? Trying to convince people to buy feels
An alternative that is more effective – and more fun – is to
focus instead on giving people what they want. Get your
prospect’s attention by leading with a question or statement
that succinctly gets them thinking about how you can solve a
problem they have. This is your marketing message or
elevator speech, not your sales pitch. Once you have their
interest, give them something they want in order to prompt
them to contact you. This could be a short report or
Does your marketing approach give people what they want?
Does it help start a conversation and a relationship?
Once a prospect gives you their contact information, go to
work and make good on their trust by showing an interest in
their needs and giving them a steady stream of useful tips.
The more you give your prospects, the stronger your
relationship will be.
Rowing a boat backwards is hard work and won’t get you
far. There is just too much resistance. To attract more
clients and grow your business stop marketing backwards
pushing against high levels of resistance. Give your
prospects what they want, build relationships and you’ll
find more prospects buying the solutions you provide.