If you’re a business owner, you’re probably trying to sell your product or service on Instagram. In fact, Instagram is probably your most favorite social media platform to use. Yes? It’s sexy, fun, and can often provide instant gratification. But after some time, the selling on Instagram feels murky and confusing and frustrating. You might be so excited about something to only be left hearing crickets when you launch it! We’ve all been there. But we don’t all have to stay there. Selling on Instagram does NOT have to be uncomfortable, tacky, salesy, or gross. It can be natural, connection driven, and profitable.
I truly believe that the most powerful way to “sell” on Instagram is to make meaningful, human connections. Most of us aren’t running huge corporations with a full social media and marketing team. It’s either just you or a few people working together as your team. Because of that, we get the privilege of connecting with our audience on a more personal level. And that personal connection is what will drive sales.
Think about it this way: if your friend walked up to you and offered you a cookie and a stranger walked up to you and offered you a cookie, what cookie would you go for? You’d pick the one your friend was offering. You trust your friend. This is the key to selling on Instagram: trust.
Step One: Building Trust
In order to create a brand and business that your audience wants to purchase from, you need to build trust with them. Meaning, you show up for them consistently and offer something special. So often, I find that small business owners don’t see Instagram as a part of their job. For me, it has always been a part of my job. I have always dedicated time, energy, and strategy to the platform.
Success on Instagram does not just happen overnight.
You have to spend time creating content that connects with your audience. You need to dedicate time and energy showing your audience that you’re someone worth trusting. You need to see your Instagram platform as a way for you to GIVE to your audience. Because I am often asking for a sale on Instagram, I want to give something away more frequently than I am directly asking for the sale. The way I do this is by looking at the core values of my business and finding creative ways to use those to give something away. For example, one of my core values is encouragement. So, I find ways to constantly “give” encouragement to my audience. I do this so that over time, I can be known for that. I spend a lot of time and energy finding ways to give encouragement. I want my audience to feel like I care about them. I want them to feel like I want to see them thrive and grow. So, I spend time giving away content and truth that offers encouragement. This means my audience feels invested and taken care of by me. Which eventually leads to them wanting to purchase from me subconsciously and naturally–because they feel connected to me as a human. When my audience feels as if I have spent SO much time and energy taking care of them, it’s an easy choice for them to purchase from me.
What can you easily and frequently give away that builds trust and connection with your audience?
Step Two: showcasing what you sell consistently
Another part of your job is to train and teach your audience about who you are, what you do, and what to expect from you.
Believe it or not, but most people are not very concerned with what you do for work. Humans are selfish and mostly thinking about themselves. They are not going through their day wondering what you’re doing for work that day and what you’re selling.
On top of that, with the Instagram algorithm, a small percentage of your audience is actually seeing your posts and stories. Which means, someone can follow you and want to learn about you, but they miss your stories for 3 days in a row because they are busy living their life. Maybe you mentioned what you’re selling during one of those days. And people missed it. That means you have to talk about it over and over. I tell my clients that when you feel like you are being annoying by talking about something so much, that’s when you are finally talking about it enough. People are busy. And they need to be reminded of things; often. So, if you want people to remember you and your brand, you have to teach them about you. It’s your job to do that. You have to take them on a journey of what to expect from you, what you sell, why it’s important, and why you’re the one to purchase from. This does not happen overnight. This is a practice and way of doing business.
For example: I own an online product shop, so I try to show my products daily. I showcase orders being shipped out. I use my products in my life and showcase them on my Instagram story. I repost stories of my customers who are using the products I sell. I have one of my products in nearly every picture on my Instagram feed. I do this so at any point, when someone comes across my account or interacts with me, there is evidence of what I do and what I sell. BONUS: this is also showing that my products are in high demand and people want to purchase from me; building even more trust!
What can you showcase and share on a daily basis that constantly teaches your audience about you and your business?
Step Three: asking for the sale; finally
So, there will come a time when you actually need to ask for the sale. Or you’ll be ready to promote a discount. Or you’ll ask your audience to sign up for your service. Whatever it is that you’re “selling” there will be circumstances and situations where you actually need to ask for the sale and you need to push it more than normal. That’s a part of business and it’s good! But so often, I see business owners not knowing how to do it or feel weird for doing it.
My hope would be that you have spent time and energy creating a connection with your audience, giving away as much as you can, and taking time to explain to your audience about who you are and what you do, so that this step is easy.
Talk about your product or service in a way that makes the customer at the center. Instead of saying “buy from me”, change your communication in a way that communicates “let me help you, and here’s how!”. This small shift in communication and language will take away the “icky” feeling you might get when trying to sell your service or product. When you intentionally choose to serve your audience above all else, it will be easy for you to sell something without being pushy.
That’s because you genuinely have a product or service that will help them.
When you take the time to serve your audience and teach them about why your product or service matters, you don’t have to be “salesy” because it’s naturally a part of your business language and marketing.
For example: if you are marketing your wedding planning services, talk about the outcome you provide for your customers versus asking your audience to book your services. When you paint a picture of what you provide and how it fixes a problem your potential client/customer faces, then the “book me!” language isn’t needed.
Your audience will feel compelled to book you when you are the solution to a problem they currently face.
- Think of 1-2 ways you can give to your audience on a weekly or daily basis
- Write down why your product or service matters and how you help your audience (now talk about that all the time!)
- Start showing your work and business constantly on Instagram Stories
- Share testimonials or client/customer reviews
- Think about Instagram as a part of your job and set aside the necessary time for strategizing and marketing.
When you compile all these actions together, you’re creating a marketing system that works for you at all times without you constantly saying “buy from me!”. It takes time and dedication, but your audience deserves your generosity and time before they are willing to trust you, and thus invest in you.
When you approach Instagram with the mindset of “how can I help?” or “how can I serve?” you will automatically connect on a deeper level with your audience and build trust. And trust is what will fuel more sales, more bookings, and more revenue without the icky sales tactics. You can do this!