What’s the best way to get a best friend? Be a best friend. You want to grow an audience and build a loyal fanbase? You want to build an audience that is eager to support you and buy your products? You have have to be loyal yourself. You have to be consistent. You have to provide value. You have to build relationships.

It used to be easier to sell online. Hard sells used to be a lot more effective when the internet was less saturated. Now people are more resistant to it. Ads and spam mail have oversaturated our feeds and inboxes and we’ve become desensitized.

We’re immediately able to recognize when someone is trying to take from us as opposed to give value to us (Related: tv022 The Rule of Reciprocity).

Giving vs. Taking

When you see a hard sell from someone you don’t know like, “Buy my thing!” you filter it out. You mentally categorize it as an ad or someone asking something of you.

People notice generosity and they notice selflessness.

Everyone today is out to get something from us and we’re all wary of it. It’s such a breath of fresh air to encounter someone who gives freely. They give away all their knowledge and everything they know and ask for nothing in return. People notice that.

When you do finally put something up for sale or make available a product they can purchase, you’ll find that the response will be overwhelming. You’ll get emails from people saying they didn’t even need your product, but they bought it anyway because they’re so on board with what you’re doing.

How do I know this? I’ve been on both sides. I’ve given of myself freely, and I’ve seen people go out of their way to support and compensate me.

I’ve also been on the receiving end of value from people who gave freely and then gone out of my way to pay them back ten fold.

Ask yourself the following:

  • What value am I providing?
  • Am I delivering value consistently?
  • How can I regularly provide more value?
People Buy From Those They Trust

People buy from those they trust. This is why when someone is not familiar with a brand, they will look at reviews. They want to know if this product is something of quality. They want to know if this manufacturer is one that can be trusted.

Provide value with no strings attached.

When you give, you establish a reputation for yourself as someone who wants to help. People think of you as a source of value.

When you give of yourself freely, people will trust you, because you’ve made it clear that you have their best interest in mind. What you will find is that people will be begging for ways to compensate you. They’ve received so much value from you where you’ve asked for nothing in return, that they will be looking for any way to pay you back. This is the Rule of Reciprocity in action. Remember: people buy from those they trust.

You Will Get Freeloaders

There is one caveat to Relation Marketing: freeloaders.

The fact that freeloaders exist is not the difficult part—there will always be freeloaders. The difficulty lies in your response to those freeloaders.

When you provide value for free consistently, people become accustomed to that. When you finally go to sell something after a long period of providing valuable content for free with no strings attached, don’t be surprised when people get legitimately angry at you.

Yes, I said “when,” not “if.”

I didn’t believe people then they said this until I experienced it myself. Expect it and prepare for it.

Don’t Make Your Audience The Product

When you put ads or sponsors on your content, you are selling your listener or viewer as the product. They are the product. You have sold their attention to the advertiser.

What do you owe Facebook? Absolutely nothing. They sell your attention and your data to advertisers. You don’t owe them because you are the product.

When it comes to Relationship Marketing, you’re not putting ads or sponsors on your content.

In Relationship Marketing, your audience is not the product—you’re not selling their ears and attention to advertisers.

What does that mean? It means the fact that I am providing this free value to you in the form of these videos on seanwes tv, my twice a week podcast, and my newsletter means that you owe me. I’m paying to create this content for you and to provide you value.

I’m not charging you for it up front, I’m providing it to you and giving you the opportunity and choice whether to be a freeloader or not.

Freeloading is a mindset. If you intend to compensate me for the value I provide to you and you simply don’t have the money right now, that’s fine. I don’t think of you as a freeloader because there is intentionality.

However, the freeloaders I’m talking about are lifelong freeloaders. They intend to mooch indefinitely. You will never convert these people into legitimate customers. They will attempt to make you feel bad for not giving even more on top of what you’ve already provided for free. Don’t let them get to you.

Freeloading is a mindset. I differentiate between someone who is a freeloader and someone who is simply pre-purchase—it’s about intentionality.

Don’t Apologize for Selling

When you’ve gone out of your way to provide value and then you sell something, don’t worry about the freeloaders who get angry.

They’re going to tell you you’re doing it wrong, they’re going to say you’re a bad person, but you have to remember: they were never your customer.

Provide value for your potential customers—focus on them.

They are your target audience.

When you sell something, a freeloader will get angry. But the potential customer’s response will be more along the lines of, “Oh!” as they experience a sudden realization and acknowledgement of the value they’ve been receiving all along. It’s now a matter of whether or not they’re in the position to compensate you for more.

Be Patient

This is not an overnight solution. It’s not a way to get quick money, it’s how to build a long-term sustainable business and grow an extremely loyalty customer base that will support you.

I’m talking about the kind of loyalty advertising can’t buy.

This takes a long time, but don’t be disheartened.

The way I like to frame is by thinking of my favorite shows. What are your favorite shows? How long were they around before you discovered them and started consuming? My favorite shows existed, on average, 2–3 years before I found them! Now, I’m a huge fan.

I try to think of my business this way. When I create my content now, I think about the difference it will have in a few years. I try to think of the person who won’t discover me until then and how it will eventually impact their life.

That’s who I’m doing this for.