Market Yourself Using Help, Not Hype: Content 101

By Josh Hoffman, Contributor, on September 8, 2017

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In his New York Times bestselling book Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is About Help Not Hype, Jay Baer explains how to market yourself through a captivating story about Robert Stephens, the founder of the technology-services company Geek Squad. During a keynote presentation Stephens delivered some years ago, he displayed the Geek Squad HQ YouTube channel, which featured upwards of 200 how-to videos.

Workarea’s Mehron Moqtaderi recounted one audience member’s confusion. They asked Stephens, “You’re in the business of fixing stuff for money, but you have dozens of videos that show people how to fix things themselves? How does that make business sense?”

His response changed the lens through which I view content marketing. “Well, the reality is that our best customers are the people who think they can do it themselves,” Stephens answered. “And the other thing you have to realize is that eventually everybody is going to be out of their depth. They won’t be able to do it themselves, and at that point whom are they going to call?”

Instead of everything-but-the-cherry-on-top marketing — a common practice, especially in the B2B space — Geek Squad’s approach to no-holds-barred help and transparency is much more effective. No hype: Just an honest display of how their team knows their stuff (and is deserving of your business). The true value of content lies in being a resources and an authority, identifying yourself as a subject matter expert or thought leader so that when people do require your services, you’re top of mind and have already built the trust needed to get that new client on board.

Crafting a Message That Resonates With Your Ideal Clients

To market yourself effectively means to speak the same “language” as your target clients. While many freelancers start and end the conversation about their services, think bigger. Craft a message that focuses on a client’s “end” — their organization’s goals — while connecting those goals to your services: the means to their “end.”

That’s why, in addition to being transparent and helpful, the content must be framed in a way that puts your ideal clients’ goals at the forefront. Ultimately, what are you helping them achieve? More customers? Higher spending by existing customers? A greater return on their investment? Fewer expenditures? Once you understand what they’re looking for, you can become what they’re looking for.

Deliver the Message Through the Best User Experience

You can create the most helpful content in the world, but if it isn’t delivered through the right means, it’s virtually meaningless. Choosing the right format to deliver your content is just as important as crafting a message that resonates with potential clients. For example, instead of old-fashioned methods that offer a relatively poor user experience like PDFs (someone once said PDFs die in the downloads folder, and it’s funny because it’s true), it’s better to use a more modern format, like mini courses (e.g. Teachable) or challenges.

Follow It up With Additional Marketing

So, you’ve successfully created a few valuable pieces of transparent and helpful content. Now what? When marketing yourself, you need to create value and stay relevant in the minds of your ideal clients until they’re ready, willing and able to hire you at the prices you want to charge. The only downside? This probably won’t happen immediately after they engage in your outstandingly helpful content. I use the word “process” for a reason — it takes time for potential clients to get to this point.

That’s why it’s imperative to have a great marketing strategy in place. This way, you can consistently stand out in the minds of potential clients they say it’s time to ink the deal you desire.

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