You say people don’t act on your offer.
Yes, but they act as they are.
You say you shouldn’t have to appeal to human emotion.
Yes, but otherwise nothing gets done.
You say you want to change the world.
Yes, but you seek change through reality, not in spite of it.
The Tao that can be blogged is not the true Tao. So let’s just say it’s the way the world works… and that applies to online marketing as well.
As with my Zen and the Art of Remarkable Blogging post, this article is not going to teach you anything significant about Taoism (and still nothing on motorcycle maintenance). But it turns out that Taoist principles can actually help you become a better online marketer, especially in social media.
All you have to do is follow the path.
Wu Wei for the Win
Are you beating your head against the wall trying to tell people a story they don’t want to hear? Stop.
In Taoism, “wu wei” is roughly translated as effortless action. Wu wei means your marketing story is in harmony with the desires of your market. On the other hand, when you exert your will against your market, you disrupt that harmony and hit the wall.
The successful online marketer understands her audience first and foremost. She focuses less on what she’d like to say and concentrates on finding the story the audience wants to hear.
People don’t necessarily care about you and what you consider authentic. Better to get over your self and create a relationship that reflects what they consider authentic, while also providing the benefits they seek on a consistent basis.
Micro-entrepreneurs and small businesses are perfectly positioned to provide that consistent authentic relationship with online content marketing. It has nothing to do with becoming a social media star or an infomercial embarrassment, and is all about telling the right story and delivering on it.
If you’re tuned in to your audience, they’ll tell you everything you need to do and say to benefit them while succeeding yourself. Acting in harmony with the desires of your market is entrepreneurial effortless action, and it’s the way social media marketing works.
Four years ago, Seth Godin said all this much better than I have. Check out the provocatively-titled All Marketers are Liars for more.
The Three Jewels of the Tao
The Three Jewels are the basic virtues in Taoism. These three jewels also make the path to effective online marketing clear.
Your capacity for sharing value before the sale will make or break you online. But in this sense, compassion goes beyond kindness and generosity.
It’s also about empathy and a sense of true identification. To get Godinesque once again, it’s about being a recognized and valued member of the tribe before you rise to lead it.
In Taoism, excess must be avoided. In marketing, message repetition generally increases conversion. What’s the balance?
The independent value you provide with content between promotional messages strikes the balance. But then something amazing happens… you sell more because now people do care about you. They like you. They trust you. They tell their friends.
Many people are uncomfortable with shameless self-promotion. Others can’t turn it off with a gun to their heads. Does modesty really work in online marketing?
Well, remember this… what others say about you is more important than what you say about yourself. The goal is to get customers and prospects doing the horn-tooting for you. Do that, and let the other guy take the bullet.
The Selling Power of Harmony
Some people view selling stuff online as an exercise in “us against them.” The best salespeople, however, genuinely make people feel that we’re all in this together.
As I said in the early days of Copyblogger, no one likes to feel sold. But when the offer is right, everyone loves to buy.
Becoming harmonious with your market makes the salesperson disappear.