Just The Tip: Don’t Sell People.

IN: Just The Tip

As I write today’s tip, I’m sailing away from Honduras on a cruise ship as a guest speaker (are you picturing me stomping all over the poop deck with a microphone?), speaking to a group of bright, motivated women starting their own businesses on the topic of standing out from the crowd. Getting noticed. And rising above the ubiquitous “sea of competitors,” which I promise I’ve only joked about once, though there’s certainly the temptation to harass everyone with as many nautical metaphors as possible.

At one point during the talk—somewhere in between putting paper bags over the heads of poor, unsuspecting volunteers and writing with marker all over their faces—I told them this:

People don’t care about your product. Your “service offering.” Your promotions. Your stupid launch.

Those things are about you.

So how do you sell yourself if you can’t make it about you?

And the answer is this:

It isn’t about selling people.

It’s about seeing them.

Find ways to unite people. Tease out a common thread. Search for a higher theme. And then provide an opportunity for them to rally around that theme. And by extension, around you.

Take American Express, for example. Instead of sending out another riveting batch of You’re Pre Approved! letters, they started their Small Business Saturday initiative encouraging consumers to shop small and support local business owners during the holidays instead of big retailers. And as a byproduct, they naturally earn attention for themselves. And customers, if they work it right.

Or the Double Tree By Hilton. Instead of starting yet another groundbreaking loyalty program, they earned their loyalty in a refreshing new way: By starting The Little Things Project, sparking a conversation about the little details that really make a difference while traveling.

Or even us. Maybe you saw the announcement about our new international travel company, Life Hooky Worldwide, opening its doors next Wednesday, and our fun “You know you need a change when…” initiative. (If you didn’t, click here.) We aren’t starting a typical sales conversation about the places we go, or the cross-cultural experiences we offer; we’re starting a conversation around a unifying theme that actually matters to people; in this case, what it feels like when you stop feeling. Stop caring. Stop living. (And seeing if we can learn to laugh at ourselves, too.)

The bottom line of today’s tip?

Instead of yelling at everyone to pay attention to you—

—Give them a reason to, instead.