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Dreaded concept for guys: The Friend Zone.

You probably know the drill, but … you like a female. You think you guys could have a future together. She spends a lot of time with you and there’s sometimes even flirting. You are getting mixed signals. But if you keep hanging out dayside for a while, eventually you enter “The Friend Zone.” That’s what she sees you as. So after brunch on Saturday, she’s going out with Terry Tough Guy at night … and you’re at the bar alone, weeping. (We’ve all been there at some level.)

The Friend Zone concept applies way beyond just dating, though. It definitely applies to sales and marketing.

What is The Friend Zone in sales and marketing?

This is when a company or entrepreneur is religious about putting out content — blogging, longer-form, webinars, the whole deal — and people are seemingly liking the content. It is shared, and website visitors are up, and time on page is up, and metrics look good.

Problem: no one is buying anything. There are no new leads.

This is The Friend Zone in sales and marketing. You produce, and people like you (“Aww, that brand is so cute and informative!”), but they’re going home with another SaaS platform, and that SaaS platform is closing the deal. (Sorry, we were trying not to be crude.)

You need to get the hell out of The Friend Zone if you want to make some money. But how?

Getting out of The Friend Zone

At some point, you need to move from content to conversation. Conversation is the highway to sales; simply producing content is not.

You can do this in any number of ways:

  • When you get comments on the post itself or on social shares of the post, respond directly to the comment with a nuanced reply.
  • Insert a crystal clear CTA in posts not to an offer, but to have a conversation about the topic. In the conversation or at any later stage give them a CTA towards your offer. (“Tell her that you can be more than a friend”)
  • Send posts to targeted individuals not asking for a demo or anything, but asking what they think of the bigger topic — then engage them for a few emails around the idea before moving them to a sales context.
  • Ask a series of open-ended questions at the end of a piece of content to encourage people to instantly think and reply.

LinkedIn and other professional platforms and The Friend Zone

A lot of people do this with LinkedIn and other professional networks:

  • Create content
  • Blast it out
  • See no response
  • Keep doing the same thing

That’s insanity. Instead, try this:

  • Keep creating content
  • Don’t share the content itself (the URL, etc.)
  • Instead, take a main idea — a paragraph or two that makes a point about what you do or solve — and share that.
  • Links don’t perform as well on social media as people just talking and offering ideas.
  • If people respond to the paragraphs, engage in a dialogue with them in the comments.
  • After a while, move it to Messaging/InMail/etc.

Content to conversation is how you escape The Friend Zone and start closing deals to make sure Patty Prospect is going home with you (again, sorry, not trying to be crude).

Ted Bauer
About the author

I help companies to market their content in the most effective way.