Are you a hoarder? Not in the ‘pantry full of year-old food’ and ‘closets full of bell-bottoms and plaid suits’ kind of way, but in the careful protection of knowledge used in your job.
Unless you’re working for the CIA, you may be doing yourself a disfavor if you hesitate to share information with your peers and clients. Offering helpful tips pertaining to your field on your website, within social media and in person helps to build trust. When it’s tangible, useful information you’re giving out, you’d be surprised at the business it can bring you.
For example, consider a handmade furniture maker who has built a reputation as a sought-after craftsman. His table and chair sets, made out of repurposed lumber from construction dumpsters, command impressive figures.
Suppose that you visit his workshop to possibly purchase an end table. When you don’t find exactly what you had wanted, he invites you to return and gives you a print-out with simple instructions on how to make your own, from shaping to sanding to refinishing.
Perhaps you’ll try it out and make your own table and no longer need his services. Chances are, however, that you’ll also show off your handiwork to your friends and mention your mentor in the process. And when you need a new custom table for your dining room, you’ll probably remember who to call.
Here are a few ideas for sharing your knowledge to build your customer base:
Host a Public Workshop
Are you a florist? Hold a free one-hour class each month teaching floral arrangement. Similarly, a salon could host a free partners clinic demonstrating therapeutic massage techniques that couples can use at home. Conventional thinking might dictate that if you teach people how to do or make what your business provides that they’ll stop needing your services. On the contrary, you’re actually proving your expertise and establishing yourself as a worthwhile resource that should be trusted and recommended.
Engage with Social Media
Depending on the size and direction of your company, you have various opportunities to interact with customers online. Local retail shops and restaurants can directly comment and offer help to customers on their Facebook or Pinterest pages. Even if you’re a larger company or one that provides a less personalized service, posting informative messages to Twitter about trends or news in your industry will help your clients to remain informed (and boost your name recognition within your field).
Be a Resource on the Web
People crave both information and entertainment, but we’ve also put-up subconscious mental blocks toward advertising. The best marketing campaigns today include useful, original content. Video advertisements no longer reach people past the blocks of TiVo and on-demand programming. Companies have to cope by creating content that people will seek out themselves. Just this month, a commercial for Stove Top stuffing hit one million views on YouTube within a week. How? Because it’s fun to watch (http://bit.ly/JpnsAJ).
Similarly, your website, e-newsletters, and social media posts should focus on content before blatant marketing. If you sell office supplies, don’t just send out email blasts or Facebook posts with your latest deals. Create a checklist for what to consider when redesigning your office, with breakdowns and bullet point reviews of the industry’s newest chairs, printers, or gadgets. It’s okay to include products you don’t even sell – it gives you credibility as an actual resource of objective information.
However you get your information out there, just remember not to keep it to yourself. Be a useful, transparent resource, and customers will reward you with loyalty and trust.