On November 7, 2013, a couple of hundred marketing professionals gathered at the Bloor Reference Library in downtown Toronto for the meshmarketing conference. A highlight of the day for me was definitely the closing keynote presentation by Jay Baer, author of Youtility and founder of Convince and Convert.
On his blog (and then again as a powerful introduction to his book), Jay writes about Geek Squad and their instructional YouTube videos. Robert Stephens, Geek Squad founder, was challenged with this question from an audience member:
Why was Geek Squad giving away the very thing they sell?
People sometimes ask me the same thing when I suggest they give their blog readers valuable information they can use to solve their problems.
Stephens explained, “Our best customers are the people that think they can do it themselves….eventually everybody will be out of their depth. They won’t be able to do it themselves, and at that point who will they call?”
The success of Geek Squad speaks for itself (they were acquired by Best Buy in 2002 and have since grown exponentially), and so does the remarkable turnaround story of River Pools and Spas.
In recounting his pool company’s blogging success story in the foreword of Youtility, Marcus Sheridan writes that when people were reading the self-serve information about pools on the company’s blog:
“They weren’t just self-educating, they were self-qualifying, too. By the time they contacted us for an in-person appointment, they were predisposed to working with us.”
Selling pools to homeowners is one thing, but what about companies that serve other businesses? Are B2B customers also looking for self-serve information?
Yes, absolutely! A couple of the presenters at meshmarketing mentioned a survey that found that, on average, by the time a B2B customer contacted a sales rep they had already completed 60% of their purchasing decision process.
That means they’ve been on your website, reading your blog posts, and looking for answers. So as you’re getting ready to publish your next blog post, check whether the information is self-serve or self-serving. Is it focused on a topic of interest to your ideal customer, or is it a diary entry about what’s most important to you? (There is a right way to use personal stories on a business blog.)
Here are some different types of self-serve blog posts to offer your customers and prospective customers
(Click the embedded links for examples.)
- A “how to” article that helps the reader solve a specific problem
- Tips and insights about a topic your ideal customer is interested in
- An interview with a related expert that helps the reader solve a specific problem
- A video demonstration about how to complete a task
- An infographic that makes it easier to understand a complex issue
- A review of a book, website or other resource that will be helpful to your ideal customer
- An example of how another person or business succeeded in the same situation that your ideal customer is facing
If you’re still feeling hesitant, Jay Baer has five great reasons to give away the recipe for your secret sauce. Remember: Your self-serve information can cement your credibility in the eyes of a prospective customer who needs the products or services you offer.