Balancing the “Hard Sell” and the “Soft Sell”

Whether your business is banking and financial services, direct selling, or franchising, having a content strategy in place that provides a mix of engaging articles and customer-specific promotions is key to your marketing efforts.

This is the difference between the hard sell and the soft sell: the first is driven by a desire for concrete ROI metrics while the second focuses on building the relationship between customer and brand.

This is also, however, where a solid content strategy can shine: striking a balance between the hard sell and the soft sell means fine-tuning your message to be relevant, maintain engagement, and most importantly, move buyers through the cycle.

How does that work, and what does finding that balance look like?

The Hard Sell

The hard sell places all marketing emphasis on turning prospective buyers into customers; i.e., making the sale. Whether that’s cold-calling or offering some sort of deal or special rate to make the product more appealing, it is essentially a marketing approach that is entirely concerned with meeting short-term goals.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with the hard sell as a tactic, but if one’s overall strategy is unbalanced in that it’s tilted too far in the direction of the hard sell, you could find yourself in a never-ending, self-destructive loop: constantly cutting deals that undermine the value of your product to secure revenue while simultaneously destroying any semblance of a mutually respectful, trusting relationship between customer and brand.

Essentially, misuse of the hard sell is where all the worst stereotypes of salespeople and the brand-customer relationship in general originate from.

The Soft Sell

The soft sell, on the other hand, is focused on building trust, authenticity, and other reputation-related selling points for a brand.

The soft sell is far more concerned with the long-term image and loyal customer base a brand is building than it is with end-of-month revenue goals.

The problem with the soft sell (if relied on exclusively to drive one’s content approach) is that, at the end of the day, making the sale is still the goal. By championing marketing approaches that are, for the most part, more difficult to quantify in terms of clear ROI metrics, soft selling can look and sound appealing and yet leave its practitioners wondering where the monetary value is, or indeed if there is any.

The Balance

The winning content strategy strikes the balance between these two marketing extremes. It gains buyer interest through quality content that has demonstrably broad appeal, but then builds on that opening with explicit calls to action designed to move prospective customers through the cycle.

Equal-arm BalanceIt’s a combination designed to keep you top-of-mind with prospective customers at that exact moment when they realize they need you, your product, or your service.

This is the balance that IMN’s editorial team captures with the Loyalty Driver® turnkey email newsletter service: timely, informative content that is constantly monitored and adjusted for deliverability (thus delivering the measurable analytics component that is so often missed by soft sell content campaigns).

It’s time to take a good look at your content strategy, and your approach to marketing overall. Are you turning customers off with overbearing hard-selling or missing revenue opportunities with a nebulous soft sell “strategy?”

Take the steps today to strike the balance between the two, capture new and lasting business with a mix of engaging content and actionable promotions, and watch your content marketing efforts take on a new power and viability.

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