Imagine the scene. Thousands of people in one place, socialising, enjoying some light relief, looking to be educated, entertained and informed. There’s a real buzz. It’s an exciting sensory overload of people, noise, colour, music and creativity. Competing for attention. Jostling for position.

All wanting to be heard!

I’m talking about social media, right? Actually, it’s the Edinburgh Festival, where we enjoyed our annual fun-packed festival extravaganza back in August.

Selling might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you visit the Edinburgh Festival, but the similarity between the festival and social media really struck me. In both cases you’ve got A LOT of people trying to stand out and promote their ‘thing’ in a crowded market.

As with anything, there’s an easy way to achieve this…and a hard way. .

The festival highlighted a wide range of different selling strategies

  1. On the one hand there’s old fashioned ‘interruption marketing’ where you tout your wares to all and sundry in the hope that someone will ‘bite’.
  2. On the other, there’s attraction or ‘inbound’ marketing where you understand your market and the value you offer, which draws your ideal clients to you.
  3. Add to this ‘relationship marketing’ where a loyal base of fans follow and support you, and rave about you to their friends.
  4. And then there’s the ‘taster session’ where you attract new followers by showcasing a little of your magic.

Almost two million tickets were sold at the Edinburgh Festival this year for every genre of music, theatre, comedy, drama and cabaret (there’s something for everyone). There’s a buzz in the air and the streets are full of performers in weird and wonderful costumes.

With over 3,000 shows a day in 300 different venues (yes, you read that right) there’s a huge variety to choose from, and huge competition. Like social media, it’s a level playing field in terms of opportunity. ANYONE can put on a show, from the big names to the newbie performer.

Let’s get to the point

So what lessons can the busy entrepreneur or business owner take from this?

First of all, decide on how you want to market yourself on social media. Do you want to use modern marketing which is based on ‘attraction’ marketing?

Or are you going to go the old-fashioned ‘interruption’ marketing route where you randomly post links all over social media in the hope of attracting some business? The equivalent at the Edinburgh festival is the chuggers who randomly thrust leaflets at you as you walk past.

Does this approach work? Well, sometimes. I remember being accosted by four pirates walking down the Royal Mile with my boys one year. A quick chat with said pirates, a bit of “ahoy me hearties” and two free tickets, and we were off to watch their performance of Treasure Island – it was very good actually!

But this random, scatter-gun approach is hard work. If you relied on this method for all your marketing you’d either get annoying or burn out with all the constant hustling. So why do people do this on social media?

How to use modern marketing to sell without selling

To use attraction marketing you need to be 100% clear on WHO you want to attract. And on the VALUE you’re offering. On social media you should be talking to your ideal clients, in their language, with a promise of the value that you bring to help them achieve their goals, or solve their problems.

The real secret here is to be completely clear on what you’re offering, and to whom, so your marketing is laser focussed. We’re talking 100% crystal clear. Talk to potential clients and build relationships with them, rather than blasting your sales message out to anyone and everyone.

3 success factors to ensure you stand out on social media

There are three main differences between the sell-out shows at the festival and those that struggle to fill seats:

Firstly, some shows are good, i.e. talented, clever, different, new, exciting, cutting-edge. And some are rubbish – ok, perhaps it’s a matter of taste but some shows are just bad. Don’t be one of those. Either give your audience 110% of your best, or don’t waste time on social media.

Secondly, many artists return to festival every year. They don’t appear once and hope it works. They show up year after year, and consistently build their audience. Building a loyal following is critical, because it’s easier to market new products and services to a warm community. And if you’re good they’ll rave about your to their friends!

One example that comes to mind is The Boy With Tape On His Face (a fantastic show if you ever get the chance to see it). The first year we saw him we got tickets at the last-minute and had a fantastic night. The next year we had to buy tickets in advance and queue up outside the venue (SO worth it). The following year when he’d performed in London and appeared on TV we couldn’t get tickets for love nor money. (Well done Boy With Tape. Remember though that his ‘overnight success’ probably took 5 or 10 years of hard slog).

If you want to be successful on social media, it’s important to establish yourself as the expert in your niche. Be the ‘go to’ person for your specific area, someone who provides value and owns their expertise. The more specific you can be the better. When someone needs help in the area you specialise in, you’ll be front of mind and the first person they contact.

Thirdly, can you imagine if there were hundreds of shows at the Edinburgh festival billed as comedy? Or if there were thousands of marketing experts or business coaches promoting themselves on social media. Oh, there are!

It’s critical to differentiate yourself. Having something unique or different about what you offer gives you a competitive edge.

The secret sauce to selling without selling

This applies whether you’re promoting a show at the Edinburgh festival or using social media to build your business.

The BIG factor which will make the MOST difference to your success is …(drum roll)… SOCIAL PROOF.

When you have customers raving about the results you get them, or how you’ve helped them, others will come flocking. If you’re clear on who you want to attract and what you’re offering, and you have happy customers talking about you, you will have no end of business.

Make sure you provide amazing value to your clients, give them the results you’ve promised them in your marketing, and ask for testimonials and reviews. The sell-out Edinburgh shows are the ones with a loyal fan base and excellent reviews. You don’t see Jack Whitehall thrusting leaflets at passers-by.

It’s decision time…

Decide if you want your business to be like a much-loved Edinburgh show with rave reviews, and customers fighting for tickets? Or a street chugger randomly hustling anyone and everyone, hoping this will generate some business.

And maybe see you in Edinburgh next year?

You can read more great articles by Cassie here!

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