As a marketer or business owner, what in the world can you do to grow to your business? I’ve struggled with these very issues.
I’ve got good news and bad news for you. The good news: You really can rapidly grow a loyal following. The bad news: You may need to rethink the way you market your business. If you’re ready for change, keep reading.
In this article I’ll reveal a new (yet proven) method of achieving rapid growth in the social age. It’s the very model I employed to grow Social Media Examiner into one of the world’s top business blogs.
But let me warn you. I’m going to challenge much of what you’ve learned about marketing, but the ideas I’ll share here will resonate with your core.
Have you noticed that everything is changing? Your industry advances, ideas expand, products morph and your customers move on. Similar to space travel, everything’s hurtling forward. Nothing remains still. Just when you think you have everything figured out, it all changes!
As a marketer or business owner, you’ve likely wondered, “Will my business survive?” or “Am I ready for the next big change?”
Here’s the funny thing. We’re all so focused on what’s next that we’ve overlooked the most important thing that doesn’t really change. Can you guess what that is?
The one thing that remains constant is people. I’m talking about you, your peers, your customers, your prospects and your partners. Yes, they might jump to the competition, but at their core they don’t really change.
Everyone wants access to valuable insight, great people and recognition BEFORE they want products or services. If you can focus on the true desires of people, you’re halfway to a successful mission.
Where’s your focus? Are you focused on yourself, your products and your company? Or are you looking outward?
Are you frustrated with the undelivered promises of marketing?
According to the American Marketing Association, “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”
Key in on the words “exchanging offerings.” That phrase implies a mutual interaction. We’ve been taught that marketing is like a gift exchange. Acme Company gives something and Joe customer is obligated to respond. In reality, marketing has become a way to force people into obligatory situations.
We’ve been treating people like fish. We’ve been taught to simply crawl into a boat, paddle out to where the customers are, grab our reel and cast out on top of customers. Then just jiggle that bait the right way and you’ll be able to force a customer into your boat!
It’s no wonder that customers don’t trust businesses! According to the 2010 Edelman Trust Barometer, trusting companies trumps good products and services. But let me be blunt: People don’t trust your business.
Add to this that marketing messages are raining down on people EVERYWHERE they go. You can’t escape marketing. Heck, it’s even in bathroom stalls. In fact, this channel overload has caused many people to seek refuge. Your customers have tuned out.
If people don’t trust you and aren’t paying attention, what can you do? This is a big challenge for businesses.
Naturally, you might be asking some of these questions:
There is good news.
If you want to connect with customers and attract raving fans, the solution is very simple: Focus on people.
You can meet the needs of people by helping them solve their problems at no cost. Remember that people’s core desires don’t change. Your audience wants access to great insight and people.
When you help people with their smaller problems, many will look to you for their bigger issues. If you can multiply free assistance by hundreds, thousands or millions of people, you can rapidly grow your business.
Content enables this!
When you provide engaging “how-to” information and assistance in the form of valuable gifts (without strings attached), it triggers the “How much more?” question. “How much more value will I gain if I hire this company or buy this product?” is the response many will have when they see the great value you provide for free.
I’ve developed a simple formula to show you how to grow.
Here’s my formula for growth. It’s called the elevation principle. When you follow this model, you’ll be able to take your business to new heights.
The elevation principle: Great content PLUS other people MINUS marketing messages EQUALS growth!
When you combine great content that’s focused on the needs of your audience and lacks any obvious marketing messages with other people, your business can rapidly grow.
When you offer great content—such as detailed how-to articles, expert interviews, case studies and videos—that focuses on helping other people solve their problems, you’ll experience growth. Why? Because this type of content meets the needs of people. It doesn’t focus on you, your products or your company. It is a true gift to your audience.
The “other people” component not only means focusing on the needs of people. It also transcends your reader base and involves reaching out to people outside your company, such as industry experts. These outside experts possess amazing knowledge that your audience will find very valuable.
The last part of the formula is to deliver this content in a marketing-free zone. Once the marketing messages are caged, the focus of your company shifts from “What can we sell you?” to “How can we help you?” You shift from pitching products to boosting people. Instead of investing in ad space, you invest in creating content, experiences, gathering places and communities where people who need help can find it.
You have the chance to own the place people go to for help, eliminating your reliance on traditional marketing channels. You can become the center of your industry, niche or local market. And when that happens, you’re launched on an unstoppable trajectory that will take you places you never imagined possible.
The result: You no longer need to sell! Instead, you demonstrate your expertise by the content you produce, the ideas you showcase, the stories you share and the people you attract. By creating a platform for others, you can also build strategic alliances, quickly grow a large following and dominate your industry.
When you follow the elevation principle, your business will experience rapid growth while your competitors will struggle to survive.
With the old forms of marketing, you pitch and sell. People ignore you and your business is at risk. With the new method, you give gifts, people trust you and you become indispensable. Which course will you take?
I’m excited to see what will unfold as we journey together through the social media jungle.