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While it’s harsh, but true, not many people (besides your mother and most loyal customers and staff) care very much that you believe your business is good at what it does. Your competitors also believe that they are good at what they do, as do your potential customers.

People care a lot more about the fact that you might be able to help them be better at what they do, that you can make their life easier or that you can bring them pleasure or satisfaction.

For this reason, marketing is most successful when it is focused on meeting needs and making life easier and more pleasant for others. When a small business addresses the deepest concerns and desires of both its clients and potential clients, and makes them feel special, they will attract leads and repeat business.

Zig Ziglar summarised it by saying, “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

In other words, it’s not about you – it’s about your customer and your potential customer. When you focus on benefiting others, you are in turn benefiting your business. Yes, business is really about making money. But the best way to do that is to add value to others and to satisfy their needs. After all, this is what makes businesses unique. It is also what people will pay money for and will keep coming back for.

This Golden Rule applies not just to your etiquette and demeanour, but also to your branding, messaging, website and promotional materials, and marketing tactics. The way you talk about your business needs to value the customer and potential customer, more than it values you and your business.

For example, an ineffective marketing tactic might be to have an advertisement for you business that says, ‘We are the best financial planner and you need to give us a call!’. In this instance, a more effective tactic would be to focus on giving helpful advice that benefits your ideal client, while at the same time positioning you as generous, knowledgeable, approachable and personable. You could give that helpful advice through:

  • an article that you have published in a relevant media outlet,
  • an interview that you participate in for a newspaper,
  • a blog that you write and share via your website and social media,
  • a question and answer time hosted on YouTube, facebook, LinkedIn or twitter,
  • a report that you publish and share,
  • providing helpful tips on social media or looking out for relevant questions/complaints/comments on social networks that you can reply to in a helpful way, or
  • an event that you host that is beneficial to those who attend.

When I tell small businesses this, some protest and worry that it means giving away unbillable time, intellectual property and services that they should be charging for. While giving helpful advice is a worthwhile investment that will result in your business growing, these businesses are right to be concerned about giving away their ability to make money.

The answer is to never give your core advice/service away for free. Never, ever. Never! Instead, identify your potential customer’s needs and give them something that is genuinely helpful in response to those needs, but only give away enough to get them interested and to show them what you can do – not to actually do it for them. Show them 60-80% of your solution, but do not give it to them.

For example, in my article in Dynamic Business about keeping your existing customers engaged and delighted, I give practical advice and clear guidelines on how to do that, but I did not give them detailed steps or every single tool available. If a business wanted more they would need to engage my services.

Why is this important? Most businesses focus on the logical elements of price, features, benefits and a desired result when it comes to encouraging people to do business with them. However, customers already expect a satisfactory result and a fair price.

For people to do business with you, they must like and trust you so that any perceived risk is removed or reduced. They need to be impressed at your helpfulness or at how you make them feel, in order to part with their time and money.

Make providing helpful advice, adding value, bringing pleasure and focusing on others, a key part of your sales and marketing process.

What about you: Have you encountered a business that does this particularly well? How has this worked in your business?

Phoebe Netto

Phoebe Netto

Phoebe Netto is the Managing Director of Good Business Consulting, a business advisory specialising in marketing and public relations (PR) for small-to-medium sized businesses. Phoebe has lead PR and marketing programs for a diverse range of clients, from listed Australian companies, global brands, not-for-profits through to sole operators. She now takes these skills that are often reserved for big businesses, and uses them to help good small businesses grow and meet their objectives by retaining their customers and attracting new ones. Follow Phoebe on twitter for PR, marketing and small business advice, plus a little nonsense! @Phoebe_Netto

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