Chapter 2: The magic begins…

Es are good, as the great band Prodigy once declared. Enlighten, Excite, Engage and Entertain. These are the cornerstones-but-one of customer Euphoria.

And expertise. Where would we be, without expertise. And where would our 5Ps of smart marketing be without prowess?

Look around you. Every minute of the day brings an opportunity to learn and add to your immense expertise – from customer feedback to great news, ideas and insight in unexpected places, from newspapers to bus shelters.

Building better businesses since time immemorial has involved creating customer communities. The biggest obstacle we as business owners have today in creating customer communities is distance: If you’re on the web, chances are you can’t just get up close and personal in the traditional manner with the people upon whom your business relies.

Trust in the future

But you have a greater chance than ever before to show them they are right in having great trust in you. You can engage them in more ways, and ultimately let loose the kind of loyalty that breeds word of mouth marketing, the holy grail for any business operating in today’ global village.

Sharing Superheroes realise they’re sitting on an incredible opportunity to develop immensely profitable customer relationships by, quite perversely, giving everything away.

Sharing Superheroes know that communicating is more to do with listening than talking. Your real strength comes through learning, and using your incredible talents and experience to discern how your customers can benefit most from what it is you know best.

It doesn’t matter what business you’re in: Today your job is as much to do with being a content concierge as it is with making widgets, filling in forms, delivering services or baking pies.

“I’d say sharing expertise has helped me to build a small, committed fan base and it’s also led to writing jobs, because those people recommend me when opportunities come up.

Without the chance to share stuff on my blog, it would have been harder to network with fellow writers, as I’m not a natural forum person. And of course, you always learn from other people, so it’s been great for personal and professional development too.” - Sharon Hurley Hall, Writing Consultant

Everywhere you look companies are spending thousands on unproven ways to get more business. A double-page advertorial in a local newspaper, a radio ad, some brand placement on a TV show.

Time after time the marketing manager scratches their head wondering where their budget went, and what they have to show for it.

And the reason for the navel-gazing is simple: They mistakenly believe they’re in control of the game. But the truth is that the customer is in control, holding the pieces and rolling the dice.

Customer-centricity is the king of content

So why is it that more businesses aren’t listening out for what their customers want? Why does the boss always know best?

In my experience as a journalist and marketer, it’s the leaders who take time to build deep and meaningful relationships with customers that breed trust, loyalty and engagement, who truly deserve the kudos and pay rises.

And it’s the heads of departments who endow trust in their subordinates to speak frankly and openly with their customers who ultimately will decide the future fate of their entrepreneurial endeavours.

Imagine building a friendship on duplicity and lies. Not exactly the most enduring foundation for success, wouldn’t you agree?

How about you try that again but by laying your cards on the table, being yourself, letting your personality run free and helping out wherever you can, using your knowledge and that of others in your field?

We’re talking about your role changing to embrace becoming a customer concierge. About forecasting, and responding to, customer needs. Finding answers, solving problems.

How exciting is it to get to talk to your customers? And who doesn’t realise they’re all you need to succeed?

Building customer communities is an identical proposition to starting a friendship.

Customer communities: Beyond Facebook

Nerd Fitness, Art of Manliness, SavvyMom.ca to savvy magazines and newspapers, and hyperlocal communities. All of them have developed raving fans who in turn power communities wholly owned by their guardians.

And this is a sharp lesson in why walled garden approaches to communities often work for the best.

Have you seen Apple’s stock lately? I just did some research largely involving me (and noone else) that revealed it would take 1,863 years to count up to the profit figure that the Cupertino company generated in the last quarter of 2011.

Apple has been scalded and ridiculed for its ‘walled garden’ approach to application development and usage of its iDevices.

When the first Apple iPad was launched, many poured scorn on its missing USB port, which meant you couldn’t pour your own content into the hardware.

Thousands of talented hackers work fanatically to ‘jailbreak’ the devices to let you add your own programs, because Apple imposes a strict set of guidelines on application acceptance before they are offered in the iTunes Store – the only source of new content for the vast majority of users.

Yet the fact is this: Apple continues to own the community it serves. And right or wrong, Apple’s profits have rocketed year-on-year since the first iPod was launched back in 2001.

Which tells me that relying on a third party like Facebook to host your community isn’t necessarily a good thing.

As Facebook continues to be deluged with randomness and noise, I’ve noticed many people dropping off the platform. I suspect that’s precisely because of the content interference, that the purity and relevance for which Facebook was renowned, the content that people joined to see and share, is quickly being eroded.

And it’s another example of why your home base, your website, matters so much. Unswerving devotion to your customers’ needs, and nothing else, is precisely the reason why people will continue to flock in your direction, and exactly the opportunity that awaits if you have the tenacity and commitment to build long-term success.

It’s all about relationships

Without sounding wishy-washy, the principles of social relationships mirror those for transactions.

And what is a transaction, anyway, if not an interchange of assets or ideas?

To become a Sharing Superhero is to understand your customer and build your business around them. To find solutions to their problems, to fulfil their needs.

The Superhero won’t simply sell to succeed. The golden eggs of any successful business are personality, passion and prowess – and using each to create a presence so irresistible that your business becomes inextricably woven into the lifestyle of your customer.

The Superhero finds opportunity in every experience to unleash the simplicity, style and substance of their industry for the betterment of others.

Because building expertise and developing a reputation of relevance and integrity is the most legitimate way to create a business that is truly worthy of greatness.
Seth Godin talks of purple cows. Jim Collins of ‘good to great’.

Whatever your stance on the distinction of remarkable, I say it’s all about becoming a Sharing Superhero.

In this book we’ll look at how you can crush the competition by embracing it in a big, loving bear hug. Every word in Sharing Superheroes is geared towards helping you build a better, more sustainable business by putting your customer front and centre of all your operational efforts.

We’ll talk about

  • planning a content strategy for your website, your social networks, and your list of incredibly important prospective and established clients
  • what to share to create loyal and engaged customer communities
  • finding the benefits – not features – in your products and services
  • using creativity to demonstrate your expertise

and much, much more. But first, let’s look at the stuff of Sharing Superheroes: What is it that makes them such a big hit in business? It starts by understanding what we know, and what to do with it…

  • If you’re new to the serialisation of Sharing Superheroes: Have It All By Giving Everything Away, it’s time to go back to the very beginning. Alternatively, I’ll be publishing the Kindle version of this book once we’re through with it here at WordAndMouth.com. For a free copy of Sharing Superheroes: the Kindleified version, simply sign up to our newsletter to the left of this post – and we’ll let you know when it’s good and baked!

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