Don't sell, connect

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Last night I was relaxing in the bath watching one of the lovely Annie Tarasova's Youtube videos, and an ad played halfway through it.

'ARE YOU LIVING YOUR DREAM LIFE? I've had twenty years on the corporate ladder and I managed to escape the 9-5. You can do it! I've created a webinar which will show you how!' (Yadda, yadda, yadda).

These kinds of salesy ads just don't inspire me to buy the product or service.

Why? Because they are trying too hard.

Imagine if you were looking for a relationship and on your first date you heard something along the lines of: 

'I was in a bad relationship, but now I have turned my life around. I have a really great job, lots of friends, I'm not bad looking, I do LOADS of hobbies and activities, my family are really nice...'

You'd probably run a mile, right? As much as we are interested in buying a product or service and seeing it's results or benefits in our lives, if we are solely focused on that when we share content then we lose the connection to the customer. Why? Because we've lost the human connection.

The old style of advertising is dead. Kevin Roberts, former CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi agrees, noting that business is now about creating a movement of people with shared values. (He calls them 'lovemarks.')

Here's some tips for connecting more with customers:

1. Focus on what you love

If you're running a business you hate, you're not going to connect with your audience, because you're just doing it for the money. The infamous and beautiful Desiderata poem by Max Ehrmann includes the line 

'Especially do not feign affection.'

If your hearts not in your business, then no one else's heart will be either. 

2. Share your values and enthusiasm

Sian Conway, founder of Ethical Hour, and Jennifer Lachs, founder of Digital Nomad Girls Community, have successfully built an online tribe by focusing on their values and enthusiasm to help others who are passionate about the same things as them. It's not easy building up a tribe, and consistency and integrity are key, but constant momentum means you'll eventually reap the rewards.

3. Find others that think like you

Carrie Green, founder of the Female Entrepreneur Association, gives excellent advice on building a community on social media. To build a community it starts from connecting with others that have had the same problem as you.

You set up your business or service for a purpose - what is that purpose? By knowing your 'why', you'll be able to seek out others that are looking for the same thing.

4. Don't be afraid to be different

If you get ridiculously excited about something that some other people find bizarre, then take heart that they are not your tribe of people. You'll do better business when you show more of who you are, because likeminded people will resonate, and those that don't will fall away. I've found this difficult in the past but am now recognising the value and power of being different when it comes to creating content.

5. Help others selflessly

If you're posting on Quora purely to get a link or promote your business, people will sense that. There's nothing wrong with that of course, but you'll attract a more loyal, consistent following if you genuinely go out of your way to help. I love Andy Lopata's approach to this. He's a really nice guy and really wants to see people do better at growing their business.

Here's one of Annie's beautiful videos.