Raise your hand if you love being pitched. Right. Nobody does. If you’re like me, you’re choosy about where you want to aim your dollars. You don’t want to be hassled or hustled into a sale. You don’t want to feel like you’re being “targeted.” You’re a person not a prospect on some sales dude’s “hit list.” You can smell that sleaze a mile away.

Now think about this in your role as a business owner. You need to market your business. It’s a fact of life and as much as you may dislike it, it’s vital to your business.

But you can market in a way that gives everyone dignity. It’s a way that establishes trust, solid relationships, lasting results, and keeps clients for life.        

Here are 6 ways the best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.   

1. The best marketing establishes trust before asking for business.

Much of marketing is reputation building. Before a single dollar changes hands, you’ll need to invest in a higher form of currency: The currency of trust. Trust is currency that transcends money because you can't put a dollar value on it. Build trust and the money will follow; it’s never the other way around. Sure, you know that everyone will adore the features of your product or service. But if the essential foundation of trust isn’t there, many people will buy your widget elsewhere. Simply put: Don't pitch marriage on your first date.     

2. The best marketing establishes you as the guru.

I don't know about you, but with a thousand sellers to choose from, I’m looking for the one who knows their stuff. Because I’m not just buying a thing; I’m buying the think behind it. So if I hold that standard to things I buy, how much more should I hold it to things I sell? As much as I’m going to buy the guru, I need to be the guru. If you can create a marketing strategy that establishes your business as the go-to in your competitive marketplace, you’ll get more market share and you’ll never, ever have to resort to cheesy hard sell tactics.      

3. The best marketing builds a tribe.

The great benefit that comes from building trust is building a tribe. Because you have the best product or service based on credibility and notoriety, you’ll invariably develop a tribe of loyal people who use you and only you. And guess what? They’ll do all the proselytizing your business will ever need. A happy customer will tell their friends and contagion will commence. Now that’s an unstoppable sales force. And they work for free because you invested in the currency of trust.   

4. The best marketing is conversational. 

Conversation -- not confrontation -- is what wins hearts toward your business. Hard sell is by its very nature confrontational. But human to human marketing in the real world forgoes monologue and loves dialogue. Engagement. It works in tandem with the personalities involved and fosters growing relationships. On a first-name basis. Yep. It’s work. And this benefits businesses in more ways than sales. Businesses actually learn what it takes to get better through the process of engagement with their market. It’s built-in late-game market research that gives you the precious insight to tweak and make any needed adjustments to your product or service.     

5. The best marketing is human and conveys togetherness.  

Prospects are people, not projects. They aren’t hills to conquer; they’re relationships to foster. If you’re marketing things right, you’re building partners, not just numbers. Business is sacred and it must be built on togetherness in an economy where trust is the currency. I’m creating a business that’s built to last when I value making friends more than acquiring clients.

6. The best marketing tells inspiring stories. 

The cultivation of solid business relationships almost always leads to stories worth telling. The concept of “tribe” is built on the power of story. Not just the amazing story of how your business came to be (as important as that is), but the redemptive story of how your business met real life needs. This is business with a face. A beautiful, human, happy face. Story is still king. And great stories create an overarching narrative that establishes your business as in touch and human.