hand stretching to help

5 Ways to stop selling and start helping

It’s very tempting to think “how can I help my audience move forward on the client journey” and “how can I address questions they have for my service” – don’t! Your blog (and similar ‘awareness’ driving or ‘first conversation’ type content) should NOT be self-serving in any way.

The more helpful you are, the more people will reach out to you organically.  You will build goodwill with them and they will start viewing you as a trusted advisor.  And when the need arises for one of your services, why would they waste their time and take the risk to find someone cheaper: they know and trust you already.

So, how can you be genuinely helpful?

1.Surveys

Look through the agenda of a popular tradeshow or the table of contents of a magazine for your target industry group, and find an angle that’s not covered.  Let’s say that you noticed a major financial services conference focusing on marketing to millennials.  If you attend, what questions went un-answered, and what did other attendees talk to you about?

So you know that’s top of mind for your financial services clients.  Maybe you run a survey (using a tool like SurveyMonkey, QuickSurveys or Survata) to ask:

  • bank managers to rank channels to reach millennials (Facebook vs Twitter vs Youtube vs Snapchat)
  • millennials what tools they use to track their money
  • millennials what are they saving money for

For best results, you can create a somewhat longer survey and split it into multiple blog posts and reports, so you get much more content with only a little bit more effort and expense (you will need a bit of a budget to reach consumers and compensate them for answering your survey questions).  For example, you could create small 500-word blog posts covering one survey question at a time.

2.Summaries

If you attend an event (or send a rep to take notes and interview some folks), if you listen to industry podcasts, or if you read a lot of industry articles, you know that it takes a tremendous amount of time.  And everyone has to put in that time in order to stay on top of things.

So it can be invaluable if you could summarize some of the key points and create a mini-report that you send to existing customers and run a ‘cold’ campaign for prospects.  If they see that you’re value-adding oriented, they’re more likely to engage with you.  In your outreach, you can mention that you’ll be putting together some insights from industry events and other resources, and ask if they’d like to receive them.

These summaries can be great lead magnets.  You can create a professional-looking report using Canva.com, or curate content using a platform like GetRevue.co and write your take on or summarize key points for each piece of content you’re sharing, or outsource the design and putting everything together to someone on Fiverr or Upwork.  An example of this content approach is our own content marketing: we pick the best business books and summarize them into 3-minute hand-drawn videos (check out the YouTube channel).

3.Reports

You don’t have to be the source of industry insights.  Identify a handful of experts in a narrow field, interview them, and create an ‘insights report’.  B2B Growth Squad can help you execute this type of content strategy, or just ask them for tips and they will be very helpful.

A key point here that’s often a missed opportunity – make sure you position yourself as an authority as well, and not just as the interviewer.  Many podcasters make this mistake: their audience identifies the experts as authorities but fails to respect or view the host the same way.  To achieve this, you want to add your own interpretation, thoughts, and insights alongside your interviewees’ or enhance them with giveaways.

The output can be a simple pdf (make sure you have well-formatted headings and simply export your document to a pdf), though we recommend adding some design to it if possible (again, through Fiverr or Upwork, or through the more white-glove service of B2B Growth Squad).

Then, repurpose this great content into a series of blog posts, LinkedIn posts (and don’t forget to boost them, a form of paid advertising on LinkedIn), and even Quora posts and Slideshare presentations.  Distribution is key in getting the most out of your efforts!

4.Research

Even if there’s tons of information already available about a hot topic, you can add value by doing the research FOR them… distilling the key points, and offering your view.

Remember – your audience is super-busy and anyone who saves them time can earn their attention.  Going back to the earlier example with the financial services tradeshow focusing on millennials, you could have a member of your team research all the online articles about Marketing to Millennials and distill them into a one-pager.  

A great starting point can be a service like AskWonder, where they can do the research for you and send you a summary as well as all the resources.  Then, distill everything into a one-pager.  Send an email with your point of view in the main body and the one-pager as an attachment.  You can even ask recipients to suggest new topics for your research, using a tool like Typeform.

5.Masterminds

Everyone does webinars these days but your audience may be getting ‘webinar fatigue’.  How many webinars have you signed up for, logged in, and quickly found out there’s too much time wasted… the topic isn’t directly relevant, you were click-baited (they had a great topic so you’d sign up but then switched to selling you something), and you wasted too much time without getting much in return.  Unfortunately, this is just how webinars are produced these days.  They used to be effective, and now everyone copies the strategy but is unable to add value.

Instead, reach out to your audience with a Mastermind.  A virtual meeting where 4-5 people (of similar position and company size) can meet, exchange ideas, and help each other.  You will serve as the host, answer any group questions that pertain to your expertise, and guide the conversation.  Over time, this can develop into strong relationships and add a ton of value to all participants.

We’ve found this to be a particularly effective tactic to stay on top of clients’ challenges and identify ways we can truly help.

Let me know if you have any questions or would like some tips and best practices to run a successful industry mastermind group.

B2B Growth Squad

Kosta BoardStudios.com

Founder of Board Studios Inc, an animation production agency that helps B2B companies simplify and communicate more effectively. Specializing in B2B makes a big difference because we know what information your clients need, what works and what doesn’t. B2B communications can be very different than B2C, so if you get your video explainer from a B2C agency you may not get the results you deserve.

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