How to Humanise Your Marketing with Sarah Santacroce

November 1, 2021

Welcome to the newest episode of The Ambitious Introvert. Today I’m joined by Sarah Santacroce – we’re talking about a subject that’s really close to my heart as a business coach and is important to you as an introverted business owner – marketing. Sarah believes that marketing should be approached with kindness and can truly be something that is introvert-friendly. I loved hearing her take on how we can revolutionise marketing to be focused on connection. Enjoy!

Sarah and I discuss:

  • Why Sarah’s mission is to bring more empathy and marketing back to online business
  • How Sarah overcame an expected re-brand
  • Filling the gap between humanised sales and modern marketing
  • Why you should only work with your ideal clients
  • Price transparency and why Sarah believes you should always post your prices
  • LinkedIn as the premier platform for introverts

If you’re tired of pushy and hype marketing, Sarah can help teach you how to bring the humane connection back to marketing. Learn how you can work with her here.

Sarah’s book recommendation for the Ambitious Introvert

Episode Resources:

Connect with Sarah:

Connect with Me:

Click here for a raw, unedited transcript of this episode

Emma-Louise Parkes (00:04):

Hi, everyone. Welcome to this week’s episode of the ambitious introvert podcast. I’m Emma Louise, and talking about a subject today that is really close to my heart as a business coach really important for any of you listening that are business owners or would like to be in the future and definitely taken an introvert friendly take on it today. So I’m thrilled to introduce my guest, Sarah. 

Sarah Santacroce (00:37):

Hello Emma-Louise, so good to speak to you again.

Emma-Louise Parkes (00:42):

I have spoken before for her podcast and also for her book. So I’m thrilled to have her here. Sarah, please introduce yourself fully and tell my audience a little bit more about you and your business.

Sarah Santacroce (00:53):

Yeah. Thanks for the opportunity to share. So I’m Sarah, and I’m based in Switzerland. Can’t remember if you set that already online or if it was before that we chatted about Switzerland. I’ve been running an online business for over 12 years now, basically built my LinkedIn consulting business. So helping people with their LinkedIn online presence online branding, personal branding and that kind of thing. And then just about probably three years ago, I had this big break down, if you will, that led to a breakthrough. And it really had to do with online marketing because I’ve been in this field, you know? Yes, I concentrated on LinkedIn and that’s kind of where I focused on, but running an online business, you have to market online. Right. And so I’ve done pretty much everything from building lists, running summits webinars all of these things that we all are somehow have to do if we want to run the business online, but more and more as a fellow introvert, I just felt like something is just not working for, for me.

Sarah Santacroce (02:14):

I just don’t fit in. I don’t feel like I can do this anymore. And it really felt like a break down. I remember clearly sitting on my therapist’s chair and you know, just kind of breaking down crying. I’m like, I can’t do this anymore. I feel like I’m constantly wearing a mask. I’m feeling like I’m constantly being someone that I’m not, and I’m constantly trying to fit in, even though I feel so different. And so that moment then led to, well, it was kind of a fork in the road. I was like, well, either I’m going to stop because I just really can’t do it anymore. Or I’m going to find a different way. And, and so that’s when this idea of the gentle revolution, this term, the gentle business revolution just kind of came to me. I’m like, that’s what I have to do.

Sarah Santacroce (03:05):

I have to show that there’s a different way that we can be in business obviously for introverts, but it was more than just introverts for me. It was really about bringing more empathy and kindness, integrity back to the business. And, and in my case also obviously marketing because that’s where I was in. So that’s kind of my journey and that’s where I’m still at. Now. I still work with clients on LinkedIn, but really focusing now on building this movement that aims to bring more of this empathy and kindness back to marketing back to the business.

Emma-Louise Parkes (03:46):

And what I love about the term gentle marketing is I feel like people are like almost free, free intentionally, a nicely placing their offers out in front of the world to say, Hey, go, this is what I do. And this is how I can help you, rather than like jumping into people’s DMS or, you know, ramming it down their throat or having all these like countdown timers and all of this, these things that, you know, anything but gentle.

Sarah Santacroce (04:14):

Exactly. Yeah. So, so this term gentle has a bit of a, a story to it and, and the beginning of the stories is very beautiful. It’s it comes exactly from, from that. I was like, well, what is wrong with marketing online? Why do I feel like that? And, and really what it came down to is anxiety. Like so many clients that I spoke to. And just in general you know, there’s a huge amount of anxiety in the world, in the business world as well. And for you know, us introverts, maybe that anxiety has to do with feeling like we have to do marketing our selling a certain way. Like we see it that the hype-y aggressive kind of stuff. But also the anxiety is on the receiver’s end. Like if we feel that we are being aggressed or manipulated or lied to, we also experienced anxiety with, with receiving, you know, all these mailings that tell us that we should be making six or seven figures.

Sarah Santacroce (05:21):

And, you know, how does that make us feel if we are not there yet? So really the first term that I had for, for this new kind of marketing was anxiety free marketing. That’s the first term that came to me. And then that evolved into yeah. Gentle. Well, because I didn’t want to focus on the negative. I wanted it to focus on the positive. And so it evolved into gentle. And as we’re recording, I’m actually evolving again because of some kind of trademark issue that came up with a so-called gentle. And yeah, she, she asked me, you know, this is my term. You can’t use it anymore. And so I had to decide, well, what is a gentle marker to do in this case? And I said, okay you know, fine. I’ll start over. I’ll rebrand. It’s not about the term.

Sarah Santacroce (06:16):

It’s about the concept. It’s about the message. So I can’t just reveal it yet, but when we, when we are releasing this episode, maybe the new term will be already out there. And, you know, I, it, this also taught me something about branding in a way it’s like, well, it’s not necessarily about one word. It really is about the message that you are sharing. So of course I was distraught, of course it was like devastated after two years, you know, building this brand around this term, but looking back now, it’s almost like, well, maybe it’s a good thing this happened, maybe, you know and of course the new term is still gonna reflect the gentleness and the kindness and the empathy, because I think that’s really what we need and this new way of marketing and selling. So, so, yeah, it’s interesting how, you know, even one term like gentle can have a story to it.

Emma-Louise Parkes (07:18):

I had very similar story. Probably last year in the online space, a coach that amen, quite few Facebook groups, the same as she was halfway through a launch for her mastermind. It was the second or third time she’d launched it. And someone sent her a cease and desist letter and said that that’s my trademark. And I’ve been using it for five-year and she had to choose mid-launch had no idea. So luckily she could change it to something like fairly similar, but she, she said the same thing. She was like, you know, is it a little bit frustrating? Yes. Did I have a panic when I, when I saw it? Yes. But ultimately, you know, I have my audience and the master, like the name, isn’t the be all and end all, that’s the container that, that they get into. Yeah, yeah,

Sarah Santacroce (08:03):

Yeah. Yeah.

Emma-Louise Parkes (08:04):

And I think you make a really good point there as well about like anxiety market and let’s call it where I know something I found when I came into the online space marketing was definitely my weak weakness. I had a ton of experience as a coach, but as a marketer, I had zero was like you said, these people dropping into my DMS and telling me that, you know, oh, I need more leads and they can help me. Or they’ve got the perfect program that I should sign up for. Or I would learn a lot from their Facebook group. And I know a lot more agents fills them. I feel really fire related because I feel like you don’t know anything about me. I’ve brought this I’ve I already have this business, but I’ve brought it online. You don’t know what I’m earning, you’re judging me because I have, you know, not a thousand followers on Instagram or, or whatever, but it’s almost like, oh, this would be a great fit for you. And I think that my response niche, but it’s like, how do you know? You didn’t know anything about me and you feel very like a number. You just know that they just go down a list of people and send them the same thing. And I think that feels really inauthentic to us.

Sarah Santacroce (09:12):

It does. And, and, and, and it’s really this, this, the human connection that’s missing, right. That’s really what it is. And, and, and that’s kinda what it feels like to me, that there is a huge gap in the way marketing has evolved and us humans have evolved the human species con you know, we, we have increased our consciousness. Like we we’ve become more conscious beings where marketing feels like it’s still being done. Like it was in the industrial revolution, maybe, you know, technically we have improved. So now we have all this technology that we can use, and we can mass you know, email and mass robot text and all of these things. But it doesn’t like there’s this gap that we need to close in terms of how do we communicate with these human beings? Because especially after COVID what we’ve just gone through, or, you know, nevermind in the states, what they’ve gone through with four years of Trump, it’s like, well, we are, our BS level has risen to an all time high.

Sarah Santacroce (10:24):

And we’re like, we, we cannot stand for marketers to lie to us anymore. We cannot stand to be treated as numbers. We cannot stand to, you know kind of be sold things that don’t, then don’t have value. So it’s really like, well, what people really want today, they want to be heard and seen. They wanted to be treated with empathy. They, yeah, it needs this kind of reframe on how we do marketing. The other thing I write about in the book, the gentle marketing revolutionists is this idea of a triple win. So yes, it needs to be a win for us because we always need to put our own oxygen mask on first. It needs to be a win for a client. So we’re not just selling to make tons of money. We need to actually create value. And then the third one is really the win for the planet.

Sarah Santacroce (11:19):

And I think as marketers, as conscious entrepreneurs, heart-centered entrepreneurs, we really need to also understand that we can make a difference for our planet. And that doesn’t mean that we all need to be you know, doing business with you know, humanitarian and business or, or, or plant or anything like that. But just making sure that we are also taking the planet into concentration and communicate that because the way we market, the way we tell our stories, that’s how our clients can tell if their worldview is aligned with ours. And that’s how we make sure that we only work with our ideal clients, which is so important, right? It’s like, well, why would you want to work with clients where it doesn’t feel good to work with them? Well, you know, you went into business for a reason. You wanted to kind of create your own rules.

Sarah Santacroce (12:19):

Well, that’s the things that need to be communicated in the marketing and, and also in the selling, but marketing in a way is the warmup for me, you know, that’s how you, you talked about leads. That’s how you get more leads. Let’s, you know, I’m using quotation marks because leads again, if you think about it, it’s not a good word, right. To, to really describe human beings that you might eventually be working with. So th the, the, the gentle marketing is a way to bring more of you to your marketing, so that people align with your values. And then the, the sales path, the sales journey is going to be so much easier because they they’ve already checked off so many things before they ever talk to you. They’re like, she’s my kind of guy. I, you know, I, we, we see the world the same way. Obviously I’ve checked that she has the skills that I need. And so that’s where, yeah, everything is just, you know, it comes with more ease and isn’t that what we want as introverts, especially, right. We don’t want to go up there and pushy

Emma-Louise Parkes (13:30):

A hundred percent. It’s so true. My, one of my favorites sales calls I ever had with a client who has now been client of mine for almost a year, she listened to the podcast. She followed me on Instagram. She read everything, and then she booked a call and she’d never liked a post or commented or anything like publicly. I didn’t know who she was. And then she randomly sent me a message and was like, can I book a call with you? And we got on the call and she just went, this is the easiest call ever, because I’m already a yes. And it was because she, you know, she listened to podcasts. She felt like she knew me. She’d read everything like she’d read realistically, she’d already decided. And that’s what I tried to get across to my clients, the power of having that marketing, where people are turning up on calls and that they are already yet, they really just doing it just to check that, you know, last 1% of gut instincts.

Sarah Santacroce (14:25):

Exactly. Yeah. And that’s what you want. You want to lead them through this path and have different in the book, I talk about signposts on your path and that, you know, you mentioned the podcast, that’s a signpost a book can be assigned post a blog, post all of these things, even an Instagram post, you know, all of these things are tiny signposts that help your client understand, you know? Yes. I agree with this person. Yes. I can see that she has to scales. Yes. Our values align all of these signposts that lead them to the, to the beautiful sales conversation. And all you really doing yeah. Is just having a human conversation and then having a vulnerable conversation as well about, you know, money because in the end, yes, that’s what sales is. But I think if we take down this pressure, take off this pressure and say, well, all of this, I’ve already done with my marketing. And, and as you and I discussed, even the, you know, the, the, the rates are already clear, they’re on my website. I’m sending you this this coaching guide upfront. Well, then really everything, all the, all the icky stuff is kind of like done and dealt with. And you can just relax and sit down and have a beautiful sales conversation. And it may be, it’s not like you said, and maybe it’s not even about sales. It’s just like, Hey, how can we best work together? How does this

Emma-Louise Parkes (15:58):

Yeah, just a connection. Okay, cool. It’s, it’s an interesting concept about displaying prices. I know that people are very divided on this. So I am in the camp of display my prices on my website. You know, if I advertise something on Instagram stories, anything like that, I very transparent. Or if people message me. So how much is this? Like, I, I’m not a, oh, let’s get on the phone and, and talk about it. Because I think that people do have pricing objections or the will be services that are just, people cannot afford in that, in that budget. There is this take online that you should not tell your prices. You should get on the phone with people and then, you know, build them up to the value and the life-changing transformation. Then tell them the price. And if they object, coach them through it, on the call and get their credit card details. How do you feel about that, Sarah? I think, I think I know

Sarah Santacroce (17:01):

I couldn’t disagree more with that approach because yeah. And I’ve been taught that same approach from, from a sales coach and, and I think, you know, to be fair, yes, I disagree with this. However that might work for some people. So I’m not saying don’t do it. What I talk about in the, in the sales book is it’s like analyze your sales energy because as introverts, usually anything like that drains our energy. So just thinking that we have to go on to all these sales calls, you know, some people, some coaches, sales coaches, they’re like, well, you should at least have three of these sales conversations per day.

Emma-Louise Parkes (17:43):

And I’d be exhausted. I wouldn’t have any energy left for

Sarah Santacroce (17:47):

Clients. And those are not the beautiful sales conversations that we talk about. Those are the, you know, analyze the gap, show the magic wand and then, you know, convinced them and have them take out their credit card kind of conversation. So if you’re a, an extrovert and I don’t know if you’d be listening to this podcast, but if you’re an extrovert and those conversations really energize you, then I’m all for it. Go for it. You know, that, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a nice way maybe to connect with more people. But in the, on the other hand, if it drains you and it leaves you frustrated because you’ve actually not taking them through the signposts, they, the client hasn’t been empowered to go and walk through that sales path by themselves and come to that conclusion. Yes. I do want to have this call with her den, you know, it feels like you have to convince the person because they’re just out of the blue, you know, getting your call and you’re like, oh, but you need this. And here’s the gap. And it just doesn’t feel good to me. But again, you know, maybe some people feel like that’s a good way to do it.

Emma-Louise Parkes (18:59):

Something that I always say to my clients about any kind of marketing or sales or social media or anything. I say, generally, we attract people like us. Like you say, we have our values. And if we’re displaying our values within our marketing, then generally the type of people we will attract will be very similar. Certainly my people are because I specialize in introverts and empaths and sensitive entrepreneurs, which I am. So if I show up as myself online and I communicate those values, the types of people I’m getting, you know, apply to have a call with me or, or to work with me probably very similar to me. So I want to make the process a process that I would enjoy because they’ve probably very much like me. So would I enjoy a call that feels like an interrogation? Would I enjoy not knowing the price till the end of the call? No, personally, I wouldn’t. So this is something I say to my clients a lot when we’re working out their frameworks for marketing and sales, I’m like, do you like that kind of post? Do you like to receive that kind of email? How do you feel if you were going through that? And if they say, yeah, I really, like I say, then, then do it because the chances are your customers will too. Yeah.

Sarah Santacroce (20:12):

Yeah. That’s so true. It, and it, it is also that, yeah. It’s like a liberation to think I’m going to work with people who are similar to me, because then you can really show up as your, I mean, we’re, we’re talking so much about authentic marketing and all of that. Well, what does that mean? It really means taking off your mask and not having to be a certain way or do things a certain way anymore. So if any coach ever tells you, you should do it like this, then you really need to question that coach and think, well, maybe that works for you, but it probably, maybe it doesn’t work for me. So I think that’s really important to give yourself the permission to do marketing and sales in a way that works for you.

Emma-Louise Parkes (21:01):

And before we wrap up, I would love to touch on the fact that you specialize in LinkedIn. So what is it about LinkedIn as a platform? And I personally am sold on, on LinkedIn. I’m, I’m very much into it. Thanks to another podcast, guest Lindsay who shared her expertise and I realized how great it was for introverts, but from your point of view, Sarah, what was it about LinkedIn over, you know, the summits and the list building and all the other things that really felt aligned with you?

Sarah Santacroce (21:33):

Yeah, it’s really also that idea. I think I wrote a blog post once why LinkedIn is great for introverts. It’s this idea where I don’t need to share certain things. That, to me feel very private. I mean, you know, LinkedIn has evolved also over the last 12 years, of course, and there’s a, there’s a tendency to share more private things or, or, and that’s okay, I’m, I’m not shocked by that. Or I’m not one of these people who says, well, that only belongs on Facebook, not at all, but I don’t feel like I have to share about my vacations and, and, and things that I just don’t feel like sharing with you know, people that I don’t necessarily know. So, so it, it really is that idea of it being a professional network, but that doesn’t mean a sterile kind of chamber of commerce network, but yeah, more professional where I don’t have to constantly take selfies and you know, show off who I am. I can show off my, my story and my expertise more than show off Sarah and my family. And,

Emma-Louise Parkes (22:49):

And, and that, that was Lindsey’s point. Actually, the really convinced me like, oh, this is great for, for introverts, because she said, people love, thought leaders on that. They want to know your opinion. And if you’re an expert at something and you know, something deeply, and you’ve been doing it for a long time and you can share your insights, that’s what people want on LinkedIn, which I think for introverts, you know, we hate the small talk, like you say, and not necessarily about the selfies phase and that this is what I did at the weekend, but, you know, if I can write like a meaty article, all about scheduling for introverts, say, you know, I’m like, I’m happy and people are going, oh, this is really great in depth, good quality content.

Sarah Santacroce (23:29):

Exactly. They want in-depth content. It’s, it’s, you know, a higher educated audience as well. So, so yes, definitely. Definitely agree with the Lindsay

Emma-Louise Parkes (23:41):

And anyone listening. Who’s like, oh, I haven’t really used LinkedIn. Or I think the misconception there can be that for online businesses or entrepreneurs. It’s not the place that there’s still that kind of hangover that, that it’s a little bit corporate. One of the things that I love about it is visually it’s far less stimulating than say Facebook or Instagram. And as a highly sensitive, my nervous system can get really frazzled. Especially by Instagram. I find it very loud and I mean, visually loud, not audibly you know, stories and videos and things going on. Whereas I look at LinkedIn and I feel quite calm. Does that make sense to use that?

Sarah Santacroce (24:21):

I don’t even use Instagram anymore, but, but I see it from my kids. And, and it, it does feel like this high B kind of thing where also, you know, you have the influencers to me is just, feels like very show offish and you get some of that on LinkedIn, but like you said, it’s more in-depth content. There’s, you know, there’s, there’s a little bit of everything. Obviously. It also depends who you follow, but you can get really, really high caliber people on LinkedIn who share really smart stuff, which on those are probably not the people on Instagram. So it’s, for me, it’s more intellectually inspiring and nourishing as well compared to Facebook or, or, or Instagram.

Emma-Louise Parkes (25:11):

I definitely have a different feel when I’ve been on there and browse. And it’s actually probably the only platform that I scroll on Facebook. I have newsfeed eliminator, sorry, I don’t scroll at all. And on Instagram, almost everyone is muted. Yeah. And I, if I want to look at someone’s content, I go to that profile because I, I don’t like the way the newsfeed kind of delivers me things without my, without my choosing. But LinkedIn is the one that I will actually scroll the newsfeed because usually I find what’s on there. Very interesting. That’s

Sarah Santacroce (25:42):

True. Yeah. Very true.

Emma-Louise Parkes (25:44):

This era, before I let you go, you know what, I’m going to ask you, what book recommendation do you have for my audience of ambitious introverts who either looking to start, grow or scale their online business?

Sarah Santacroce (25:56):

Yeah. as we agreed, I’ll mention my books after, but I want to mention a centralism, which is my all time favorite business book by Greg McCowan. I think for highly sensitive people who are easily overwhelmed and who kind of are these overdue is doers, you know, ambitious overdo wars centralism, basically, you know, have we easily say that changed my world. It really did. Like, I’m like, wow. I was blown away by the, you know, kind of like easy concepts. But ever since my world looks different, my business looks different the way I prioritize things looks very different. So highly recommend that he’s just come up with an a second book called effortless. It’s a good book too, but if you’ve already read to centralism, it’s kind of like, eh, okay. Nothing much new there.

Emma-Louise Parkes (26:56):

I feel like I want to reread it and I’ve read it a couple of times if it’s actually in some of my brand photographs, my last Brandon shoe, I had, I had some books and there’s quite a few of me holding essentially. So yeah. I completely agree as a reformed type, a perfectionist over-thinker it’s, it’s perfect.

Sarah Santacroce (27:14):

The book. Yeah. And

Emma-Louise Parkes (27:16):

Then we have your books, which I’m really thrilled to share with.

Sarah Santacroce (27:19):

Yeah. Thank you. Yeah. So the, the marketing book is for now called the gentle marketing revolution. So I’m sure if you look that up, you’ll, you’ll find it. As I said, I have to rename it. Yeah, it’s a, it’s really a book or a movement to give ourselves permission to do marketing our way in a way that feels good. It’s aligned and is, you know, not hype-y and pushy, but aligned with our values. And then I’m currently as we’re recording this, still finishing the book for sales. So kind of my, my readers basically said, well, what’s the difference? And where does selling start? And where does marketing end? So I decided to write a sequel about selling and we don’t quite know the title yet, but I’ll let you know before this airs. And, and yeah, you were so kind to send me a paragraph on how you do sales calls. And so it’s really this idea of yeah, bring that empathy and gentleness to you, to our sales conversations as well. And it’s mainly oriented towards online business owners, but especially service providers as well

Emma-Louise Parkes (28:38):

Effect. I know that anyone that listens to the show would benefit from reading any of your books plus essential isms. So I’m going to pop all of the links for those in the show notes. And if your book name changes, we will update that in due course. And I will pop all of your other links as well. So people can find you and connect online. Thank you so much, Sarah, for coming to chat today.

Sarah Santacroce (28:59):

Yeah. Thanks for having me, Emma Louise.