15 ways to make your users feel good while talking about you

The words sales and marketing always make me anxious and awkward. No body likes selling, even the people who are good at it because somewhere we feel we are asking for something and in case of bad products, even manipulating the user.

Who wants to do that, right?!

But may be, it doesn’t have to be such a soul-less thing. In fact, as Seth Godin predicts, human marketing is the only marketing that will survive. Other forms of data driven digital marketing can soon be automated.

Even if we take that with a grain of salt, truth is that grabbing attention is not hard. It is sustaining the attention that brands struggle with.

My friend enrolled for an online ‘self-improvement’ course that began with a lesson on ‘how to ground yourself’. One of the exercises she was assigned to was to find a partner & help her stay grounded in an aggravating situation. As she chose me to practice it with, she began explaining the concept. Of course, she had to tell me more about the class.

The reality struck us.

How brilliant a marketing tactic that is. The course instructor got her sharing about the course without even making her feel that she is spreading the word! But we didn’t mind because she had found value in the course & exercise felt helpful.

This is how one should market — not by pushing but by adding meaning to the act of spreading the word.

Whether you are branding yourself, a product or service, it is good to resort to ways that empower your users and elevate them.

As Jonah Sachs advocates in his book The Story Wars advocates, “brands that tell value-driven stories can truly revolutionize marketing.” In a world rife with noise and messages, brands struggle to get heard.

We made the audience the hero of the story and turned facts and figures into stories, calling people “the citizenship,” rather than just consumers — Jonah Sachs on how he helped create viral campaigns.


Here are 15 tactics that you can use today to market your offering without sucking your audience’s blood (in no particular order):

1. Get into the head of your user and give them what they want

e.g. Netflix releasing all episodes of a series because it knows its users’ habit to binge watch.

Just imagine how many new users did Netflix acquire when their existing users went on asking their friends, “Hey, did you see the episode 13 of House of Cards? Omg, its f***** mental!”

2. Create activity that involves your users talking to new audience

e.g. Ash’s online course instructor designing exercises that requires her to work with a friend partner. Obviously, she first needs to explain the concept which most likely involves talking about the course as well.

3. Use offline engagement for a purpose

e.g. Make-A-Wish foundation created extraordinary experience for a 5 years old kid, Miles, with Leukemia who wanted to be Batkid for a day. Using their social campaigns, they mobilized 12000 volunteers into helping Miles. The press coverage, social conversations and increased donations organically followed.

Making people feel they are helping in a meaningful act is the most empowering driver in human psychology.

4. Live your business

e.g. Jagdip Mehta of Gujarat hosting his heritage home on AirBnB invites guests for free on most popular festivals. His lavish hospitality strewn with interesting stories about his guests and house ensures that every guest becomes a word of mouth champion for him! Full story here.

The key here is that Mr. Mehta is not even doing it to market, he is simply living and breathing his business.

5. Give valuable advice for free

e.g. At Scholar Strategy, I give out 90% free advice which is as genuine and valuable as the paid one. These people may not pay now but they for sure tell others about it. This is used by most of the online influencers including Neil Patel, Marie Forleo, Ramit Sethi etc.

6. Generate a talking point

e.g. Starbucks giving free coffees when you vote.

7. Add partners which can provide something your target audience values

e.g. Hubud (co-working space in Ubud, Bali) offers H-pass that has partnering restaurants offering discounts on meals to Hubud members (including me at the moment).

Everytime I treat a friend on a meal, they ask how did you get the discount and I end up telling them about Hubud. Sneaky, huh?

8. Creating games through which users can earn freebies

e.g. Chipotle’s famous scarecrow showed a world in which a scarecrow is forced to work in a fictional factory. It rebels out eventually and the powerful storytelling captured the imagination of everyone. The video also acted as a trailer for an accompanying iOS app that allowed players to earn codes for free Chipotle menu items.

9. Create contests that actually benefit the users

e.g. My friend Trilok at Polymathic guru helped one of their clients to acquire nearly 5000 leads in 2 weeks using a wise contest giveaway.

10. Get experts to talk about you

e.g. Instablogs organized ‘Ask them Anything’ with leading bloggers and sourced its questions from the readers back in 2007. This encouraged both the experts and readers to share their events.

This is before we knew content marketing as a buzzword. It shows that marketing ultimately is inherently psychological and if you understand humans well, you can think of innovative ways to reach them.

11. Make your users feel proud to be associated with you

e.g. Apple, duh. But also Harley Davidson and Tesla.

12. Give a face and personality to your brand

e.g. Singapore Airline’s Singapore girl (a term used to represent their flight attendants) has come to represent the care, grace and efficiency of the brand itself.

13. Regular and consistent engagement

e.g. CrossFit posting WOD (workout of the day) every day that makes the users come back everyday for more.

14. Honor loyalty

e.g. Hilton offers its most engaged users some of the most memorable experiences that they inevitably share with their loved ones be it concert tickets or expensive meals.

15. Don’t market — go out of the way to help your users

Never fails 🙂 Nothing induces more trust than a rock solid customer service. If you go that extra mile to create more comfort for your users, they stick with you no matter what.