Some years ago, I moved from Sydney to Melbourne in pursuit of a guy who was a terrific flirt. After surprising him with my interstate move, he invited me to his place for dinner. While dinner was cooking, he pulled out the guitar and sang me a Tom Waits song. If it were possible for humans to melt into a puddle, that’s what I would have done.

Done well, your marketing works similarly (although dinner is two-dimensional and has no aroma). Done well, your marketing warm people up through witty repartee, searing insights and quirky originality.

Done well, flirting graduates to fandom, and sales.


Fandom is not about slavish devotion and group think; fandom is about recognising ‘your kin’ in the digital arena, and hooking up to their email list, subscribing to their blog, or following their business on social media. Fandom doesn’t necessarily translate into imminent sales but helps build a business’s reputation through word-of-mouth endorsements and ‘social proof’.

Fandom solidifies casual browsers into solid prospects and, most importantly, helps to spread the word about who you are and what you do.

Depending on your business goals, blogging and social media marketing may:

  • Educate on the benefits of your offerings;
  • Highlight the particular issues, inconveniences or problems that your offerings seek to alleviate;
  • Educate on the nuances or particulars of how you do what you do, and why;
  • Overcome any misconceptions or misunderstandings about your modality;
  • Highlight the unique approach of your business;
  • Grow your email list;
  • Increase inquiries;
  • Increase referred web traffic;
  • Sell.

Attracting and repelling

Effective business blogging and social media marketing should attract and repel in equal measures as readers segment themselves into ‘your people’ or ‘not your people’. We need to strike a skilful balance between just enough personality and style – not enough and your marketing is too dull to engage with; too much and you’re attracting ingratiating sycophants, not people who are in the market, actively seeking what you sell.

I’ve heard people compare personal stories in marketing to condiments in cooking – they add spice and interest, but you wouldn’t eat only condiments, because that would be gross.

When I suggest at my marketing courses that effective marketing repels as much of it attracts, most people give me a dubious look that says “are you serious?!” But marketing cannot appeal to all people. That’s not the point.

Ineffective marketing neither attracts nor repels. It’s like a cup of lukewarm tea – tolerable, perhaps, but far from appealing and most often overlooked entirely. Ineffective marketing is far too general, indistinct, and, ultimately, invisible.

Asking for the sale

Among health and wellbeing professionals, people tend to fall into two camps – the social media fans spend a lot of time cultivating their community, responding to comments and flirting with the best of them, but fall down when it comes to asking for the sale.

Or, they don’t understand online and social media marketing and are skeptical about how it could translate into sales.

Their blogs and email newsletters, if they have them, tend to read like a collection of sales copy with little appeal to clients who aren’t already intending to buy.

The flirtation is important. The dude that attempts to bypass the flirt and go straight to the ask normally gets a quick cold shoulder. The warm-up flirt precedes the ask, and the same applies to your business. Unless your prospect is primed and raring to buy, you’re unlikely to make a sale the first time you ‘meet’ online.

But you also can’t flirt forever. Eventually, you have to get over yourself and ask your flirt on a date. You’ve invested time, money and effort into slowly, skilfully and lovingly doing business with you. They’ve shown interest by engaging on social media, signing up to your email list and commenting on your blog.

When it’s time to ask, ask. Don’t hesitate or waffle or sound doubtful or nervous. You’re the guy in the nightclub. You need to sound confident if you’re to engender confidence. Ask.