The three elements of charm, according to Drayton Bird

Being charming in business, specifically in marketing, confers an advantage. So what is charm and how can you cultivate it?

Yesterday I wrote about the importance of cultivating confidence in the value of what you provide. Confidence can manifest itself as:

  • swagger
  • audacity
  • friendliness
  • authority
  • charm

I never thought it’d be possible to define that last one, charm. Being charming in business, specifically in marketing, and super-specifically, in copywriting, confers an advantage. It can show up in all kinds of places: product design, web design, copywriting, user experience, marketing materials, and more. But charm isn’t what you might think. It’s not the exclusive domain of presidents and celebrities. It doesn’t require an outgoing personality, wit, a smooth, articulate delivery, or polish of any other kind. It doesn’t even require confidence, though that can’t hurt.

So what is charm and how can you cultivate it?

The New Oxford American Dictionary defines it as the power or quality of giving delight or arousing admiration.” And charm has a close verbal sibling, charisma: “compelling attractiveness or charm that can attract devotion in others”.  What these two qualities have in common is that they describe one person, relative to how they are viewed by multiple other people.

But here’s a much more “inclusive” definition of charm, from copywriter Drayton Bird:

The person who is charming has the ability so talk to you and make both of you feel as though you were wonderful.


You see? It’s the creation of a shared feeling. It puts charm in the context of a two-way conversation, of two people. 

How to Be Charming in Sales and Marketing

Are there mechanics to charm? There certainly are; many were outlined in the classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. But let’s look at how Drayton Bird’s three ingredients break down into places where you can take some kind of action.

Indirect flattery (modesty)

“I’m not really wonderful but you are”.

The secret to indirect flattery is humility. A useful way to think about humility in the context of owning a business that provides an expertise-derived service is this: your services are not valuable because you are brilliant. They are valuable because you have done the work to gain the insight and skill to provide results to your clients.


Honestly not only the best policy. It’s as rare enough now to make you pleasantly conspicuous.

Honesty is not about “being blunt” or “telling it like it is”. That mindset is complete bullshit, to be honest. It is about examining very carefully what you think the important truths of a particular business problem are. By examining them carefully, you will understand them. By understanding them, articulating them will come naturally. 

Liking people / liking to help people

Number three and four come across naturally, to all human beings. And they are sort of the same thing. Of course, you don’t have to like everyone. There are some people not worth liking. But most people you will like, so ask yourself, how can I help this person.

So for all three cases, the secret to charm is to figure out how to cultivate these tendencies, all of which already exist inside you.

And here’s the real secret, they exist in other people too, and by manifesting them in your interactions, you will bring them out, such that you will create a shared feeling of being wonderful.