“Explain your competitive advantage.”
“Engage your audience.”
We’ve all heard phrases similar to the high-level, proverbial statements listed above. While these statements describe what marketers must do, I believe they lack a fundamental simplicity. Your marketing should not deviate from the intrinsic values upon which you founded your company. One of those values is (or must be) helping people.
If you have a company that is making money then most likely you are helping someone. Rabbi Daniel Lapin has an excellent book that debunks the many myths surrounding money and reveals the truth of money’s spiritual nature. (Doesn’t that make you want to read the book now? It is called Thou Shall Prosper: The Ten Commandments for Making Money.) Here is a quick analogy so that you don’t stop reading this post on the grounds of lunacy. The traditional way money is perceived by people is like a room of 10 people who all have 1 pineapple. If I want 6 pineapples that means I must take 5 pineapple from 5 other people. Aren’t I just a pineapple glutton, dripping with deceptive greed? The way we should perceive money is a room with 10 people who each have a candle. If I want more light I simply light more candles from the people around me. Not only do they still have their candle after helping me light mine but the room is becoming brighter with each lit candle. That is real business. Helping people and consequently making the world a better place.
Now back to your marketing. We’ve proven that if your business is making money then you are helping people. Now make sure your marketing is helping people. For now, forget the heady, theoretical phrases above and focus on the reason you started your business: to fill a need. Now fill a need with your marketing! It is depressing to watch self-absorbed, self-promoting, unhelpful, vapid marketing spill into the world on an assembly line. In many cases the business owners of companies producing spurious marketing are themselves passionate, humble, and very hardworking. We must convert this incongruousness into one harmonious, strategic message.
But how am I supposed to sell anything if I am just giving hand outs all the time?
Well how am I supposed to buy something if I don’t know if I like it or trust your company? We know you know your good, but how do we know your good? There are too many options and there is too much power given to consumers to maintain some artificial level of prestige or exclusivity as an excuse for selfish marketing. If your product or service demands a certain level of prestige and/or exclusivity than you can still promote that perception while being helpful. In every case the focus must remain on people, not numbers.
Here are a few ways your business can start being helpful (and I expect more ideas to be shared in comments below):
- Offer free classes
- Give out an e-book or video tutorial
- Share ideas about improving people’s lives
- Answer questions…truthfully (thank you Marcus Sheridan)
- Offer practical advice about relevant topics
- Give out samples of your work
- Publicly share references for your business and encourage people to contact those references
- Host networking events/parties
- Share relevant articles, stories, videos, etc. and include why the content is helpful
- Serve the community with employees
Alright you. Let’s here some more ideas! Leave a comment with other ways, we as business owners, can be helpful.