Sell hard, sell soft.


I’m always looking for consumer and marketing patterns, especially those that manifest in larger cultural happenings. I’ve written about the new health care phenomenon whereby we flip the model from treatment to prevention – the goal of the Affordable Care Act.

Today I was reading about a new or retro law enforcement program being tested in Queens and Manhattan, moving away from “enforcement” to “prevention.”  Officers are asked to walk the beat more, spending more time talking to people in the community, learning about hot spots, pressure points, personalities and flow – hopefully before bad stuff happens. It’s similar to the healthcare model and I’m sure it will work. There will always be a need for enforcement as there will always be a need for treatment, but a few ounces of prevention — listening and learning — can go a long way.

This got me wondering about selling. Can “hard sell” be allied with treatment and enforcement? The hard sell approach is about getting someone to do something they don’t want to do. With immediacy. Ding dong. Ring, ring. Button holing consumers on the street. Softer sell, is about preparing a consumer the time when they will be ready to buy. It works by making a positive impression. A memorable impression.

Hard sell is expected in advertising. From people, in belly-to-belly selling situations, not so much. A key to marketing is “sell hard, in soft mode.” Effectively, preventing rejection.