Have you ever sent an email to your list (or any marketing message), in which you told them about something for sale, and readers replied thanking you for sending it?

If not, let me tell you, it’s the best feeling ever.

Every week, in reply to my weekly email lessons (in which I often offer a product or service for sale), I get replies thanking me. At first, it was a total shock. But now, it makes sense.
What I’m doing isn’t magic. It isn’t sneaky. It isn’t even all that strategic.

It’s open and honest and straight from my heart.
I want to help my readers and I want to build real relationships with potential buyers. So I provide value and a real connection. I open up. I share my struggles. And in exchange, the people who are ready for what I offer gladly buy it. (And those that aren’t, still open my emails and send me sweet notes!)

I want this for you. Your business can be a lovely exchange in which you offer your best work to the world … and your buyers are thrilled to pay for it. They are grateful for it, because it’s just right for them, and you offered it in a way that not only made them happy, it improved their life.

But instead of experiencing this happy exchange, I often work with makers who are struggling and fearful. They don’t want to send a newsletter lest it “annoy” their subscribers. They don’t want to link to a product lest it seem “salesy.”
And they lament their lack of sales and impact.
It’s all connected.

When you don’t know how to build relationships with your potential buyers and when you don’t feel comfortable making a clear offer, your sales will suffer.

So how do you fix this?

How do you create marketing that isn’t just effective, but also appreciated?

1. You have to re-frame how you think about your marketing (relationship-building), so that you’re more comfortable doing it.

The fastest way I’ve found to do this is simple: Picture one person you are sending a message to (whether the message is a blog post, tweet, or email newsletter). You are not trying to convince this person to do anything, you are informing her of something she might like. Like a friend who tells you that your favorite jeans are on sale, you’re doing her a favor. In fact, if you have something that your reader is going to love and appreciate, you are doing her a disservice if you don’t tell her about it.Write your message just to this one person and keep your focus on being helpful, useful, or entertaining. Don’t just say “this is available” – tell her about it. Tell her what makes it great, tell her how she could put it to use, give her ideas that will improve her life (whether she buys the product or not). The more you can be a source of help or joy or inspiration in your reader’s life, the easier it will be to do your marketing. It’ll be a joy for both of you.
And if you’re still worried about bugging your reader, remember this – they signed up to hear from you! They subscribed to your email list or they chose to follow your tweets, photos, or Facebook posts because they really, truly want to be reminded of your awesome product. They are waiting to hear from you. Do you want to let them down? (It’s totally normal to have to remind yourself of this every time you share a new product.)

2. You need to put it all together in a way that makes sense for you andyour customer.

I think of this as building the Customer Path. You’re clearing a path through a dense forest of confusion for your just-right customer to find you, fall in love with your work, and happily buy it.

Your mission is to communicate with the person who is going to love your work, and give her all the information she needs to use (and love!) your product in her life. You can’t just show her a picture of your awesome thing and expect her to figure it out. You have to do the work of informing her about all the benefits, of helping her see how it’ll fit into her life, of helping her get the most out of it after she buys it.

For example, if you use “eco-friendly materials”, you need to communicate what that means. Why does it matter? What difference does it make? How will it better for the buyer?
Or if your glass is hand-blown…what does that mean? How is that different? Why do I care?

You build your Customer Path by answering these questions (in your descriptions, in your photographs, in your blog, in your social media postings) and by making it clear what the person should do next. This is as simple as telling the person what to do. When you blog about a product, link to it and say “You can buy this here.” To let your fans know you send emails, say “Sign up here for early access and shop updates.” It might seem really obvious, but these small cues can increase your conversion and improve your relationship.

When you create a Customer Path, your marketing is no longer just about “spreading the word” – it suddenly becomes about connecting with potential buyers. It becomes about education and connection. It shifts your relationship from seller + buyer to expert + learner. Your marketing is no longer about you and your product, it’s about your buyer and her life.

And when that’s the case, your marketing isn’t interrupting her life, it’s improving it.

Is your marketing appreciated now? What could you do to improve your Customer Path?

PS. To dive into creating your Customer Path, you can check out my class on CreativeLIVE.