There used to be a time when over the top marketing hype was restricted to get rich quick schemes and the like. But these days it seems to have infiltrated almost every sector.
In my own field there now seem to be daily offers and webinars that promise to teach you how to get floods of clients without selling, make millions in passive income just by knocking up an ebook or online training course, or to make six figures from group coaching just by holding a few webinars.
Of course, none of it works. Or more accurately, it doesn't work for 99% of people who try it. The truth behind these extravagant claims is usually that…
- They've taken the very best results that someone got on a small scale and extrapolated it with the implication that everyone will be able to get the same results, or…
- The solutions work in very specific markets and conditions that are almost never reproducible (like the guys with hundreds of thousands of email subscribers and big joint venture relationships who give the impression you can get the same results as them even though you're starting from scratch), or…
- They extrapolate figures that sound plausible if you've no experience in the field but are actually completely unrealistic (like “all you have to do is sell 100 copies of a $100 ebook each month and that's an extra $10K every month you're earning”. Really? Have you ever tried selling 100 copies of a $100 ebook month in, month out? Almost no one does it), or…
- They talk about huge improvements without mentioning just how bad the original situation was (and it turns out that the improvements were due to things you're already doing).
Now sometimes they actually believe their own hype. They convince themselves that those very best case scenarios are reproducible somehow. “If one person did it, you can do it”. And sadly, some of them just plain lie, they don't care whether you succeed, they just want your money.
I'm sure you've seen this sort of thing in your business too. And faced with competitors making those sort of claims it's hard not to think that the only way you can compete on a level playing field is for you to make similar outrageous claims too.
I know I sometimes feel that way when I see the kind of hype that's sneaked into my field of helping consultants and coaches get more clients.
But, of course, your ethics and your common sense tell you that this isn't the right route to follow. It almost always ends in disappointment for the client and you. Even if you do a great job it can't live up to the hype.
So when all around is hype and exaggeration, how can you market in a way that still gets you clients?
The answer, I believe, is to understand who your buyers – your ideal clients – really are.
You see, people who buy based on hype fall into two camps: the newbie and the desperate.
The newbie doesn't know it's hype. They get taken in. They get disappointed. They might get a refund. They're more careful in future.
The desperate know in their heart of hearts it's hype. But they wilfully ignore the warning signs. It's their last roll of the dice, and they need something miraculous to pay off for them. Even if your rock solid service completely delivered for them, it wouldn't be enough.
Here's the thing: you probably don't want newbies and the desperate as your clients.
A few weeks ago I interviewed Dov Gordon for some upcoming podcasts I'm doing on email marketing. I asked him a question about how he came up with the content for his emails which I've always found to be very insightful and his answer was that he writes for his ideal client, which is someone who already has experience with marketing. They've tried a few “quick fix” approaches but haven't really got results. So they're coming to him for deeper insight.
It's probably very similar for you.
You probably focus on quality rather than price. You probably do your best work for clients who appreciate the extra help you provide, the personal touch, the little differences.
The good news is that by-and-large, those sort of clients see through hypey marketing. They're turned off by it. They don't trust it. They've maybe fallen for it in the past and are wise to it now.
Simply put: to get clients without resorting to hype, you need to target clients who don't respond to hype.
Figure out who they are. Where they “hang out”. How you can reach them. And vitally: what messages resonate with them. What they really care about.
When you see your competitors resorting to hype, don't get flustered and absolutely don't copy them. Focus on who your real ideal clients are and what messages work for them.
It won't be hype.