A Small Hack to Radically Change Your Business
“Inna, I’ve spent so much time and money getting the product to market, I just don’t see how I can afford to do anything for free,” one of my clients said to me, looking distraught. I felt for him — product development is never easy, and usually takes longer and more money than planned. At the same time, his journey to being a successful company with a great sales record was just beginning.
He seemed to have everything — the product looked slick, packaging was exciting, there have been photo and video shoots with flown-in models…but something was still missing. In this case — social content. With an important qualifier — valuable social content.
If you make someone else’s life easier, you have their ear.
When people don’t immediate embrace the fruits of our labour, our ‘business babies’ that we’ve built from the ground up with blood, sweat and tears, we tend to get defensive. We expect people to value our product as much as we do, because after all, we’ve worked so hard for it. We expect validation. We selectively pick success stories to inspire us and expect to be an overnight success. In reality, 9/10 people and products fail. And not always because the product was bad or irrelevant — more often than not, people fail because they see launch day as the finish line. Now that they have built it, they want customers to come.
Unfortunately, people don’t care.
About your product, that is, and your struggle. They have their own struggles. But people do tend to care about stories. Stories hold intrinsic value to us — anthropologically, stories have been used to pass on important information: this vehicle is engraved in our collective psyche and we tend to pay attention to it. I hear your objections: “But Inna, I wrote a blog post with ‘our story’ and still nothing happened.”
The biggest job of an entrepreneur is to tell their story. A job is not a task. It’s not a one-off. It’s a continual effort to explain what matters to you, using various storytelling tools — images, videos, narrations, etc. It’s a non-stop sharing of content that helps tell your story. Evidence, confirmation, praise; criticism, defeat, perseverance.
One of the best ways to tell your story is to share what you know, what you’ve learned and what will help someone else. If you make someone else’s life easier, you have their ear. I will encourage my clients to post and give away free content until I’m blue in the face. Because eventually, good stuff will start to stand out. You will establish yourself as an expert in the field. People will seek your advice, they will remember your name, bookmark your blog or download your podcast. Then your story is powerful. Then comes the sales pitch.
Sorry, Instant Gratification
I know that the lack of instant gratification following thousands of dollars and hours spent on bringing product or service to market is a tough pill to swallow. You can aid the effort by investing in PR or social media services. You can outsource a lot of the knowledge dissemination. But you must put systems in place to ensure you can continuously provide value to the people around you. Remember — you set out to solve a problem. It’s not about you or your ego. It’s not about getting rich or your exit strategy. It’s about being valuable. Nothing is promised — attention from customers is no exception. Earn it, keep it, then cash in on it.
Commit to daily social posts. Offer weekly deep-dives. Record a podcast. Release a free ebook or ten. Keep a blog. Run ads to disseminate your best content, so that more people can benefit from it. This is the long game.
“But Inna, it seems everyone is doing it, how can I stand out?” Everyone is doing it, you’re right. 6 months in, half as many people are doing it. After a year, it’s a quarter. Stick it out and people will start to care, while your own toolbox for bringing value will grow. You will be invited to speak on other people’s podcasts. You will start landing speaking engagements. Your community will grow, but not without some thorough gardening.
What is your experience with consistently putting out good content? Are you getting traction? What works? What’s frustrating? Let me know!