Today I’d like to welcome Judith Sherven and Jim Sniechowski to Ascroft, eh?. They are stopping by to talk about Soft Sell Marketing and their new book, The Heart of Marketing.
This is how they describe their book:
“This book is about marketing. But more important, this is a book about you, the soft sell marketer, and your desire to market and sell your products and services online or off without compromising your values or what you believe about how people should be treated.”
I’m not a fan of hard sell marketing tactics so I’m interested to hear their ideas about how to be a marketer while still retaining your integrity. Here’s their answers to a few questions I asked them about the topic.
1. What Is Soft Sell Marketing?
A clear and distinct way to describe what soft sell marketing is is to describe a fundamental difference between hard and soft sell transactions.
Think of it this way. It’s all about the difference between ROI and ROE.
If someone buys your product or service and they expect that the amount of money they pay you will return to them plus a profit, that’s a Return on Investment or ROI transaction.
The intent on both sides—the seller and buyer—is an increase in money. So it’s fundamentally a money-for-money exchange.
The sole purpose of this exchange is the accumulation and increase in the amount of money over and above that with which both buyer and seller entered into the transaction.
Now imagine that you are a parenting counselor and a young couple brings you their 5-year old. She’s having difficulty adjusting to school. You give them guidance and it works. The child begins to enjoy school and everyone in the family is getting along better.
When the parents hand you their check, do they expect the amount of the check to return to them plus a profit? Of course not. That’s not the nature of the exchange.
What you’ve done is facilitate a change in their life experience. The young couple wanted the quality of their life to be different and you helped them make that happen. That’s why they’re paying you.
For that kind of life-change transaction we use the term Return of Experience or ROE.
Soft sell marketers, for the most part, specialize in ROE transactions.
2. Tell us about your background and how you became involved in promoting soft sell marketing and sales.
As former therapists who ventured into online marketing just four years ago we had to overcome our technical deficiencies and learn to make friends with the computer. Even more so, we had to open our minds to an entirely new way of being in the world, a whole new and very different mindset—a marketing/business mindset.
We kept hearing from Internet marketing teachers about this strategy and that technique, and all we had to do was apply what we were learning and we would surely become successful Internet marketers. After all, they did, and, as they kept insisting—“You Can Too!!”
So we applied exactly what we were told, step-by-step, word-for-word—with some financial success. But all along we labored under the feeling that something was wrong. Or to put it more accurately, something just wasn’t right. But what?
The answer began to emerge at the various Internet marketing conferences we attended.
We could hear that what the speakers were teaching was logical and credible. But we always felt a sense of displacement, a feeling of not belonging, of somehow being outsiders. We hadn’t had years of business experience, no formal business education, and no family business connections. So we accepted our discomfort as just part of the newness we’d jumped into.
But at those same conferences we began to hear others who had the same complaint. “I don’t feel right, somehow.” We heard their complaints often enough that a pattern became clear. All those who voiced this kind of discomfort were service providers, care-givers, change agents of some kind, men and women who had dedicated their lives to helping others—heart-to-heart.
These people didn’t have big money as their foremost objective. To be sure they all wanted to make money—a commensurate return for the value they provided. But equal to making money was their need to serve the well-being of their customers and clients, and in so doing, earn the income they desired—not the other way around.
They also expressed their resistance to and sometimes downright objection to competing and keeping score—i.e. making money for money’s sake. And some uttered the word “selling” as though it were a profanity. It became clear that there was a segment of the Internet marketplace that was not being served. That segment is peopled by soft sell marketers—all of us who are care-givers and life-change artists as distinct from accumulation artists whose focus is money first and foremost.
3. Is a certain type of person or business best suited to this sales approach?
We’re currently in the throws of a global financial meltdown due to dependence upon cerebral, almost defiantly rational procedures used to create, process and control transactions— some quite dangerous to the buyers and many barely understandable on any level. What has been missing from this “supremely” cognitive formula are appreciation and value for the human-to-human needs and connections that give rise to the market in the first place.
Arising in this financial desert is a clearer awareness of Soft Sell Marketers. These are people who, for the most part, are care-givers—men and women whose lives are grounded in heart-to-heart connections. Unfortunately they have historically been viewed as those who should work without ambition for money, because it was thought that money would corrupt the value of care-giving, and so care-givers tended to stay out of the hurly-burly of the commercial world.
We reject the notion that care-giving has no place in the market. To the contrary, the core of any society, for better or worse, is established through the values it places on care and care-giving. That also includes the value it places on human emotion and the connections that spring from the heart.
We’ve spoken with hundreds of care-givers, life-enhancement artists who market their services (or want to market) on and off line, and they’ve told us that the typical, unemotional, strictly bottom-line-driven, arm’s length transaction doesn’t work for them. It goes against their experience of and their need for the fundamental connectedness between people. Conducting business at an arm’s length breaks the interpersonal wholeness at the center of their experience of being alive.
Soft sell marketers include all health providers from MDs to energy healers, every kind of therapist, coach and counselor, life enhancement specialists like interior designers, wedding consultants, home school experts, recreation and travel professionals, musicians, artists, and a nearly endless list of specialists devoted to improving people’s lives.
Marketers who realize the emotional and spiritual emptiness of traditional marketing methods
Marketers who realize the psychological damage done to the community by manipulative marketing techniques
Entrepreneurs who want a larger and more loyal following
Women for whom Soft Sell is a marketing voice they can identify with
Marketers intent on creating a sustainable and supportive commercial community
4. What are the benefits of the soft sell approach?
Guilt and anxiety free marketing and selling
An empowering sales voice
Permits marketers to market with consciousness and conscience
Creates long-term customers out of one-time buyers
Matches your message to the heart of your market
Shows how to open the relationship rather than close the sale
Removes fear and mistrust from the buy/sell process
Reduces customer care needs
Reduces refund requests
Reveals the grace and ease of holistic marketing
Eliminates hype, fraud, and unreality from the process
Recognizes the seller and buyer as a relationship rather then opponents
Eliminates the combative quality of selling and buying
Overcomes combative hard-sell tactics
Integrates and validates the needs of both sides during a transaction
Supports an emotionally mature rather than adolescent sales process
Recognizes the seller and buyer as equals
And personal/professional integrity are maintained while making a substantial living
5. So what’s the most common criticism you receive for the stand you’ve taken? Because you’re really calling us all to rethink what happens in the buying and selling relationships that go on in our lives every day.
People haven’t liked our use of the term “soft sell.” They hear the word “soft” as meaning weak. That terrifies those who live in the traditional mindset. But we don’t mean weak at all. Quite the opposite. Soft sell is much stronger than hard sell for creating long term profits.
6. Tell us about the Soft Sell Marketers Association (SSMA).
SSMA—Where Success and Spirituality Join Together for the Benefit of All
After having been involved in Internet marketing for 3 years, studying the “gurus,” taking classes, attending conferences, and communicating with our customers we recognized the need for a style of marketing that best suited those we met who found themselves, as we did, displaced in the world of traditional hard-sell marketing.
We saw the need to harness the power of those care-givers and life-change artists into a community that best suited them. We also saw the need for what we came to call soft sell marketers to fully bring their products and services to the world—products and services that are sorely needed, far more than another stock or commodities trade. We saw and continue to see the impact that soft sell marketing can have to influence world commerce.
After all, commerce is one of the most basic communication tools we have. As we conduct commerce, so goes the world. So in October 2008 we opened the doors to the Soft Sell Marketers Association (SSMA).
Beginning immediately as an international organization with members in Germany, Mexico, Canada, and Australia, the SSMA is a training ground, support center, and gathering place for connections between and among soft sell marketers.
And as it grows, so grows the world of heart-based, soul-supported commerce.
At the Soft Sell Marketers Association we provide ongoing training and connections to support soft sell marketers in making their businesses as successful as they want them to be.
When you are a member of Soft Sell Marketers Association, you are:
● Welcomed and valued for who you are — Beginner – Been at it awhile – Advanced Internet marketer;
● Recognized for where you are and what you need to grow your businesses;
● Encouraged to follow the freedom of your creative vision so you can;
Speed up your learning – Build your confidence – Trust your passion to excel – Expand your influence – Create the success of your dreams – And help heal the world
And not only do our members rave about the soul-connections they make with each other, they also report terrific success in their businesses from the weekly trainings and group coaching sessions—from the uniquely spiritual and in-depth quality at SSMA not found anywhere else.
We invite you to learn about many of the other benefits — including trusting our new members with access to all the downloadable SSMA Training Downloads that go back to the beginning of the organization.
So go to — http://softsellmarketersassociation.org
Click on the upper left Link that says “Member Benefits/Join Now”
Read through the Benefits which we are adding to all the time—and then join us by going through the easy process at the bottom of the page.
We look forward to saying “Welcome to SSMA! Your soul-based business home!” And supporting you in Growing Your Self As You Build Your Business Success! Because, as we say, It’s All in the Connection.
I’d like to thank Judith and Jim for stopping by today and providing information about a way to conduct business without sacrificing your integrity. Before they go they’d like to tell you about their special offer this week:
“The Heart of Marketing is a great resource for anyone looking for solid marketing strategies and tactics with a Soft Sell, heart-based approach to create real profit and long-term customer relationships. Order your own copy of The Heart of Marketing within the next 24 hours and receive over $8,400 in bonus gifts from experts around the globe. Go to
Judith Sherven, PhD and Jim Sniechowski, PhD are a husband and wife psychology team. With no background in sales or marketing they’ve created an expansive online career in less than four years. The leading voice for the Soft Sell approach to marketing and sales, they are best known for producing the only Internet marketing conference for the Soft Sell Community which they call “Bridging Heart and Marketing.”
They also provide their popular Soft Topic/Soft Sell Copywriting Course. And with partner Tom Justin they developed the only course for the true Internet marketing beginner – First Step Internet Marketing – with students in 17 countries.
Judith & Jim are the best selling authors of five relationship books. Be Loved for Who You Really Are (St. Martin’s Press), The New Intimacy (HCI), Opening to Love 365 Days a Year (HCI), The Smart Couple’s Guide to the Wedding of Your Dreams (New World Library), and LivingYour Love Every Day (eBook).
The Heart of Marketing: Love Your Customers and They Will Love You Back (Morgan James, 2009) is their first, but not last, book on the power to transform marketing and sales into a mutually beneficial process between seller and buyer, transforming commerce through consciousness and conscience.
Judith is a clinical psychologist who worked in private practice for twenty-two years. Jim holds a doctorate in Human Behavior and co-founded the Men’s Health Network in Washington, D.C.
They are popular and inspiring international speakers and trainers who demonstrate the groundbreaking personal and professional benefits available when people learn to respect and differences between them.
As guest experts they’ve been on over 1500 television and radio shows including Oprah, The View, The O’Reilly Factor, 48 Hours, CNN, Canada AM, and The Daily Buzz.
They’ve written for or been interviewed by hundreds of publications including the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, the Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Cosmo, O, Bridal Guide, Red book, Ladies Home Journal, Playboy, Essence, Women’s Day, Family Circle, Parents, Brides, Men’s Health, Best Life, and they are regular columnists for Today’s Black Woman.
Married 21 years, Judith & Jim currently live in Las Vegas.