Marketers: Give of yourself if you want to receive

Published October 4, 2017 2:59 pm by Jada Cash
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It’s better to give than to receive, they say. Ask any Fortune 500 CEO, however, and his preferred verb would likely be the latter.

And so it goes in marketing: Everything we do serves to boost our (or a client’s) bottom line. From audience engagement to hard conversion, the long game is all about the sale. Give the customer a great product or service, sure. But first, receive the hard-won money.

Comedian Michael Jr. touched on this idea in his brilliant keynote at last year’s Content Marketing World. Early in his career, accolades, applause and “attaboy”s were his currency, and he relished the spotlight. Only during an unusual standup performance at a home for abused and neglected children did he realize that true generosity results in unprecedented gain.

One of the boys in the audience wore a Spiderman mask wherever he went as a way to cope with past trauma. But in the happy atmosphere of the comedy routine, the boy let his guard down; he approached Michael, removed his mask and introduced himself. It was a breakthrough moment, and a major turning point.

“If we could just stop asking the question ‘What can I get for myself?’ and start asking the question ‘What can I give from myself?’ I think people would learn that you don’t have to be a comedian to deliver a punchline,” Michael said.

It’s the idealistic foundation of countless fables, bedtime stories and Disney classics: Open your heart, truly give of yourself and await a magical transformation (cue the orchestral swell and glimmering stardust); but there’s more than a grain of truth to this story. In fact, today’s consumers see straight through self-serving messages masquerading as valuable, impartial content. To achieve a breakthrough—and the rewards that come with it—our marketing must come from a place of true generosity. And at first, that might seem a little foreign. Get started with these ideas:

Give away your trade secrets
For a restaurant, this might mean sharing the “secret” recipes of dishes that put you on the map. For an agency like LoSasso, that means offering inside information about the work we do for clients—from our SEO processes to the design tools we love. Could the restaurant patron make the dish at home and forgo dining out? Could our clients take work in house, too? Possibly. But more likely, the content will help them better understand our labor of love, decide it’s better off in the hands of professionals, and appreciate the craftsmen behind it that much more.

Share great insights for FREE
For some organizations, the content is the product: online newspapers with paywalls; eBooks; magazines; etc. Take a cue from their book and aim to create content so great, people might just be willing to pay for it. Then, give it away for the low, low price of a form submission (first name, last name and email only!).

Cultivate empathy
Generosity starts with empathy—and what better way to develop content that resonates with your audience than to truly understand their wants, needs, fears and hopes.

Hug Your Haters
Marketers who sweep negative feedback, uncomfortable questions and unfortunate customer service issues under the rug are doing themselves a disservice. Bestselling author and marketing savant Jay Baer teaches business leaders to embrace their critics for a number of compelling reasons, including the marketing fodder it brings. What better approach to content creation than to identify the information and tools that might alleviate customer gripes? Think maintenance and user guides, customer forums through which they trade Q&A and tips and tricks, and even announcements about how you’ve improved products or processes based on customer feedback.

In the end, you get what you give. So, are you ready to pay it forward?