Educate Your Audience

A few days ago I was talking with an employee of a landscaping company. We got to talking about social media (big surprise) and it turns out her company started a blog, “To help us show up on the search engines,” she said. “That’s a smart move. Blogs are great for SEO,” I responded. “What are you posting? Are you giving landscaping tips and advice?”

This is when my brain cringed.

“Oh no, not at all. That’s what they hire us for. We just post pictures of jobs we’ve completed.”

If you are new to Internet marketing let me break it down for you:

The big-picture goal

No matter what you are selling, be it a product, idea, or yourself, the big-picture goal is to become the #1 recognized expert in your topic.

Think of it this way: Pretend you are the CEO of a pogo stick company and you are watching “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” on TV. The million-dollar question is a tough one. It’s about pogo sticks. The contestant is stumped and decides to use one of her lifelines; she may contact one person on the Internet for advice (I’m bending the rules a bit). With only a split-second to decide, your name pops into her head. She calls, you tell her the answer, and she wins $1milllion. You get weeks of free press and a life-long customer who evangelizes about your brand for all eternity. Terrific.

Pop Quiz: Why did she call you and not someone else? (Remember, she only had a split-second to decide)

Show what you know

To be an expert, you can’t just walk around with a fancy t-shirt (or website) that says, “I’m the expert.” You have to prove it. You have to show what you know. Are you really the “Queen of the Kitchen?” If so, show me a recipe.

This is why blogs are so popular. Blogs allow anyone to strut their stuff by sharing their knowledge with the world. The most popular and profitable blogs like Techcrunch and Mashable share the best knowledge most often. They offer up-to-date news, resources, and loads of helpful advice consistently throughout the week… for free.

Why should I give away free stuff?

Marketing online isn’t all that different from marketing offline. Have you ever eaten a free sample at the grocery store? With the Internet, we don’t usually give away free food. We give away free information that is relevant and helpful to our audience. This creates a bond of trust and respect and paves the way for current and future purchases.

Should I give away ALL of my secrets?

It depends on what you are selling. One strategy is to provide helpful advice that compliments your product or service. If you sell vacuum cleaners, teach your readers about air quality. If you sell water bottles, teach your readers about water filtration and the lack of clean water in third world countries.

San Francisco Sourdough window

<-- Here’s a picture of a sourdough bread company is San Francisco that educates their customers in two ways: first, by printing the history of sourdough on their front window and second, by giving one their employees (girl with pink hair) a microphone to educate the people on the sidewalk about sourdough as she makes it. When I took this picture there were 15-20 people outside, listening. The rest were inside, buying. The other strategy is known as the “Freemium” business model. Essentially, you help the customer achieve part of their goal for free, and then charge for the rest. If your customer’s goal is to lose weight and gain muscle, you may start by teaching them the basics of exercise and nutrition, including recipes and workouts. This is the free part. Next, you offer a paid-subscription service that provides personal mentorship and accountability (if you have ever tried to get in shape, you know it’s very difficult to do by yourself). The service may include specific recipes and workouts for every day of the month, a data sheet to track progress, and most importantly, certified nutritionists and trainers to chat with and keep you accountable to your goals. Customers would be able to track their success, stay motivated, and talk directly with experts and other paying customers who are on the same journey. For a closer look at this strategy, check out this video by one of the best Internet marketers around, Frank Kern.

Back to Landscaping

For the landscaping company, I would suggest using the freemium strategy. In a series of blog posts, spill all of your secrets on how to build a rock wall, patio, and flower garden. Like the fitness and nutrition example above, your audience will not want to do it all themselves. That’s hard work! Your blog will give them confidence in your knowledge and abilities and they’ll hire you instead.

If you’re worried that giving away your secrets will turn away potential customers, get over it. The “do-it-yourself” types won’t hire you either way. They want free information and if they can’t find it on your blog they will look elsewhere. Don’t let that happen. If you let them “steal” your secrets and landscape their own yard, what do you think will happen when they invite their friends over for a BBQ?

“Gee Bob, the yard looks fantastic! How did you do this?”

“I learned it all from this landscaping company’s blog. They had some great advice.”

“No kidding. I’m actually looking for a landscaper. Maybe I’ll give them a call.”

Word of mouth. Social media. Whatever. It works. Educate your audience and people will talk about you. The more people who talk about you, the more you will be recognized as an expert. That’s the goal.

What is your advice for the landscaping company? Leave your “secret” in the comment section below.

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SuperNack

Hey, Ryan Rotz here. If you'd like more info about me, SuperNack, or if you'd like to get in touch, please visit the 'About' page at the top. Thanks for reading!