The new truth about marketing: people buy people, not products.


Today I’m going to talk about 3 things - personality, branding, and purpose.

I see so many people struggle with their marketing, more specifically with their messaging, and that’s only because they haven’t found the focus their business needs to prosper. Once you find focus, or as I call it, your purpose, you'll be better equipped to pull clients toward you. 

Marketing is not pushing people to buy things; it’s drawing them in to listen.

And you do that not just by having purpose, but also by being yourself and providing value. And that value is rarely the product itself. Yes, maybe your client needs your book or your course or your services, but what they buy isn’t the thing itself but how you present it, how you present yourself, and how you make them feel about it, and about themselves.

I know those are a lot of things to think about, but let's start with the basics.

Personality (the hook)

How much of your personality have you infused in your business?

Think hard about this question because it matters. First of all, more personality equals more trust and therefore more leads. Secondly, it means more peace of mind and therefore more fun times. I mean, you can’t really have fun doing something that has nothing to do with you. It would be the same as selling shoes. (Unless you're crazy about shoes.)

What draws people to you is not how grammatically correct your sentences are or how meticulously crafted your social media strategy is. What draws people to you is your personality: the way you talk, what you believe in, what hat you’re wearing, etc.

Your personality is “the hook” — what draws people to you.

Every time I get a compliment, it’s on a personal quality, not an actual product or result. For example, people will say things like “you’ve inspired me” or “your enthusiasm is contagious” or even “I love the way you write like we're friends”, and those things have nothing to do with what I’m selling. And yet, they are WHY people buy.

So take note of the compliments people give you; there's hidden power there.

There’s a reason everyone’s on about authenticity these days. It’s because it’s hard to find the good stuff among the noise. And the people who produce it or point it out for you become trusted advisors, and if they’re authentic themselves, that only multiplies trust.

Trust builds connections and businesses. If you’re ever going to have any foundation of your business, this is a good one. 

And the best way to invite trust is to build an authentic business. 

A great example is Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary says it like it is and doesn't apologize for it, yet manages to be respectful at all times. Now, he will say that he got successful because of his attention to context, not his personality, but I respectfully disagree. While both play a part in his success, his energy and the way he stands against the status quo are a part of his personality, nothing to do with his social media strategy.

Personal Branding (the statement)

Branding is so much more than logos and design. It's also about messaging and consistency. Just ask these guys. And with so much to think about, no wonder some people drop the ball and never make their own site (unless they want to pay a professional). But here's a little secret - you can "brand yourself" without paying a lot of money. I did it!

And before you say that branding is not the biggest priority on your to-do list, I'm going to have to be annoying and say, it should be. 

Because people buy people. 

Branding is like clothing - it's the first impression you give to your potential customers. If you don't have it, then you're naked.  And it goes beyond that because branding is not just an image, it's a statement. Without a statement, how do people know what you're selling? 

Take my favorite artist on twitter Austin Kleon for example. His brand is all about showing your work and being creative. He does newspaper blackouts and tweets book quotes. So he doesn't just say what he's about, he SHOWS it. And I'd buy anything he sells is not because it's artsy, but because I like his brand and what it stands for.

Forbes will back me up on this — people with personal brands are the ones who thrive.

Another example is author Kristen Lamb and the community she has built around her brand. Her blogs are full of humor and visuals, and she addresses exactly the kind of relatable things authors face every day. This is how she has established herself as an expert. And even though her site is not fancy, her message is loud and clear: "we are not alone".

Purpose (the WHY)

The purpose of your business is what you’re really selling. 

Not long ago I watched Simon Sinek’s video about leadership and the golden circle, and fell in love with the following quote:

People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Isn’t it so true though? And it goes both ways - you have a reason for selling what you're selling and I have a reason for wanting to buy it.

So I’m not going to buy some kind of bundle of features that may or may not improve my life. It’s empty to me. What I’m really after is: the value I will get from it. Whether it will make me a better person or give me a feeling I'm after or save me time, I need it for those specific reasons.  And the thing is, I don't even know what that value is! I'll know it when I see it, and your job is to preempt that and show me that you have what I need.

To illustrate, I’ll let you watch this MarieTV video, where Marie explains why buying a rug wasn’t about the rug at all. A teaser:

You don’t buy a Moroccan rug with your head. You buy it with your heart.

Whatever you’re looking for — a feeling, to preserve a memory, or a promise of a brighter future — you will find someone to sell it to you. And if you want to be the one selling, you need to get clear about what you’re offering. Because there are so many ways to present a product in a unique and desirable way as long as you:

Clarify what the buyer will get from it. 

And in order to determine what they'll get from it, you need to be clear on your purpose. Only then can you focus on the messaging.

A helpful exercise for discovering the purpose of your business and working on your messaging is again from Marie Forleo. She calls it “the 4 P’s” and it’s helped me a lot in this time of pivoting and general confusion. Another helpful exercise comes from Jeff Goins. And finally, here's a bunch of creative exercises on Fast Company..

And remember that purpose doesn't just ground your business, it also gives you the satisfaction of doing something for a reason that really matters to you. If you're after fulfillment, infusing your business with purpose is the fastest and surest way to get there.


  1. Your personality is what draws people closer.
  2. Take note of the compliments people give you - there is secret power there.
  3. Personal brands are not about design, but everything you stand for.
  4. "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it."
  5. People buy feelings, memories, promises... not products.
  6. Purpose also brings fulfillment, and that's the best part.

Phew, we covered a lot. Now over to you...

What are you really selling?



Violeta Nedkova

Violeta Nedkova is a multipassionate marketer who loves helping people. She talks and writes about marketing with purpose and personality because it's so much better than traditional marketing.