Social media guru Tanya Gill, O.D., reveals how to sell without actually selling

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Nowadays, consumers are a sophisticated bunch.

They love to be sold products and services, but they also hate to be sold products and services. Come again?

Yes. Consumers want it all.

So, how do we sell without sounding pushy, needy, obvious, or desperate? For this and next month’s column, we are going to learn about my most favorite business strategy—How to Sell Without Selling.


Storytelling is often all in the caption. Part of selling is also in the caption. So how do we combine both to win over our consumer? Here’s how.

To the right we have the same photo with two different captions. The first is a very common caption I see on social media. It describes the photo exactly with a call to action. It’s the perfect sales pitch, right? Your sophisticated consumer would probably read it, not hold it against you, but also would feel nothing else.

The second caption is selling without selling. It describes how the frame feels when you own it. It evokes an emotional response from the consumer. Read #goals.

1 Just in! New Anne et Valentin in tortoise. Come in and try them on and make these beautiful glasses yours today.

2 A woman is always beautiful when she wears rad glasses. Book your appt at 510-555-2020. #radglasses

Caption No. 2 is successful because it’s fun and inspiring to the discerning consumer.


We know how popular the Instagram Story feature is on social media. You use it. I use it. Our discerning customers use it.

For homework, I want you to take three screenshots from your existing Instagram account to create a Story according to my cheat sheet.

This is what I do to create a fun, inspiring, product-focused Story that works.

You can download my complete Story cheat sheet by clicking the link listed below. Because, sell without selling.


Need a little help completing the Story homework? No problem!
I’ve created a free cheat sheet that will bring you through the steps. Here’s your easy download link:

1st page

Select a Portrait Photo

The caption should reveal a thought about the subject, such as: “When you are born dressed to impress.”

2nd page

Use a Product Post

The caption should describe the product in a meaningful way + as a continuation of the first thought. A good example is: “…but need some rad glasses in your life.”

3rd page

Choose an Interior Photo

Complete the story with a caption that describes your business in an expected way, like: “And this is where we make the magic happen. Call 510-555-2020 to discover yours.”

For each story page, insert your business location and add your brand Story hashtags. For any posts with products, tag the vendor so that they can repost your Story. Remember to add your sell-without-selling-style caption.

—Tanya N. Gill, O.D.