Why Helping Beats Selling Anytime

Jay Baer (courtesy of about.me)

In a cluttered world littered with a gazillion advertising messages, there is only one way to truly stand out from the crowd. And that, according to Jay Baer, is to focus on helping your customers rather than selling to them.

Thanks to a podcast from Copyblogger Radio, I learned from Jay that there are three ways to fill the top of the communication funnel:

1) Top Of Mind Awareness

This is the traditional approach adopted by big money advertisers where one has to maintain a consistent messaging presence in the marketplace. To rule in this "always-on" space of media, you have to invest significant sums in advertising and promotions. Naturally, there is a tremendous amount of competition here. Besides, consumers are getting increasingly skeptical and disdainful of all forms of advertising.

2) Frame of Mind Awareness

The next way to fill the funnel looks at pulling customers in through "inbound marketing". Here, web search engines like Google and Yahoo! come into play. Companies that can create strong content that is searchable with lots of "google juice" will be able to draw interested parties keen to look for specific services or products. However, there is a limit here as such an approach will only draw those who already have a desire to consume/purchase.

3) Friend of Mine Awareness

This final superior approach looks at tapping the best of both worlds. According to Jay, what happens with friend of mine awareness is that "you seek to have the prospective customer allow you inside their circle of trust, where you become more than just a purveyor, but rather a valuable resource."

Enter YOUtilities

To achieve friend of mine awareness, you need to retool your company to be useful, helpful and generous to potential customers without expecting an immediate return. In Jay's words, you should become a YOUtility - a company that seeks to provide a useful service to customers or potential customers in an almost altruistic manner.

Quoting from Jay: "Sell something, and you make a customer. Help someone, and you make a customer for life." Apparently, that's the only way to stand out in an "avalanche of invitations".

Examples of such noble companies and entrepreneurs include Geek Squad, which provides hundreds of free videos on YouTube to help you fix your tech stuff, Taxi Mike, a taxi driver in the Banff ski resort area (Canada) who distributes free guides to F&B outlets, and Vanderbilt University Medical Centre with their free BabyTime iPhone app.

The Bikini Principle

In the podcast, I also learned about the bikini principle (or concept) which was coined by Sean of Attversumption.com.

Quoting from his blog:

"I found out the age-old concept of the bikini to apply. That by giving away 90% of the content, and keeping 10%, the attraction factor was just as strong, if not twice as strong (there are reasons for me saying ‘twice as strong). And yes, what the bikini didn’t reveal, was the part the audience most wanted (naturally), and was the part they were willing to pay for."

This can be represented by the cartoon below:

Courtesy of BrainSell

The idea of the giving away 90% of one's product probably applies better to content rich products online such as software, e-books, email content, music or movies which have low distribution costs. I suppose consultancy services and training can also work this way.

Are We Ready for "Altruistic" Marketing?

I wonder if Singapore companies are ready for such "altruistic" marketing strategies to garner heartshare and eventually walletshare? As Jay has shared, achieving friend of mine awareness requires a certain generosity and willingness to extend help which goes beyond short-term transactions to long-term goodwill.

In a way, what I hope to do with Cooler Insights is to provide free business advice and views which can help entrepreneurs and managers of any shape, size or stripe. However, I am clear that what drives me to do so isn't expectation of any return but just an interest to contribute to the body of knowledge. At least for now. :)

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