Helping instead of Selling

Content Marketing gurus have referred to the concept of helping instead of selling. It’s a phrase I use myself when talking about Inbound Marketing.

Just this week I’ve had experiences (good & bad, on & offline) to make this concept feel even more real to me.

For example, have you ever thought of a waitress as a salesperson? I never had. Well, not until this week. Now I think a good waitress is probably the BEST salesperson a restaurant could have. Businesses, their content and websites included, need to behave more like a waitress i think.

Think about it…

Would a waitress come up to you and read you the entire menu? Going on, and on, about how great the restaurant is. Of course not! She knows someone else already did their job to get you through the front door. She’s not going to repeat it. She’s going to respect that you are the decision maker and that you know what you need. AND, since you have the information in front of you (ala the menu), she knows that her job is to be there when you need her, answer your questions, and ultimately serve up the perfect solution that meets your needs (even if you dont know yet, exactly what those are). You’re happy, she’s happy.

Helping? Selling? Serving? Yes!

In the end, who cares what we call it. It’s just good business. And yeah, I know this analogy isn’t perfect, but it is something that I had fun noodling on and i hope it got you thinking. If it did, let me know!

Here are two good articles to get your synapses firing:

Helping is the New Selling.” It’s a quick read and gives some practical examples that help drive the message home within a sales meeting context.

Why Content Marketing is Not Branding” This is a longer read, but an easy one. IMHO @ChrisBrogan gets it spot on in this one.


PS: that’s my boy Fox in a picture his father took while feeding him a piece of pizza about a year ago 🙂


Did you know that the part of the brain that controls decision making doesn’t control language? I didn’t. It’s one explanation for why folks might say they are leading with their gut or heart or just have a feeling, when they make a choice about something. It helps explaiin why connecting with people in a more meaningful way can drive action and loyalty.

Apple is an awesome example of a company doing just this. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a great example of a leader doing the same for a movement. Simon Sinek talks about this and more in his 18 minute TED talk on “How great leaders inspire action.” 

He talks about the Golden Circle (Why, How, What) and how you need to start with the WHY, not the how. He gives great examples of success when starting with the why, but also talks about some failures that result from doing the opposite. Like how Tivo got it wrong by leading with the how instead of the wy. Sinek’s mantra of “People dont buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it.” (while a bit reptitively delivered) is totally brought to life by these examples and more. Here are a couple of my favorite qutoes from the talk:

“Martin Luther King Jr gave the ‘I have a dream’ speech, not the ‘I have a plan‘ speech”

“If Apple was like everyone else, a marketing message might be: We make great computers. They’re user friendly. Wnat to buy one? …Here’s how Apple actually communicates: Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo, we believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”

“The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have, the goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.”

And, even though this talk is is not directly about content marketing, if you watch it, I think it will inspire you and give you a whole new perspective on content marketing and the importance of starting with “Why” in all that you do.

So what do you think? Hogwash? Or did you get inspired as well? Do you know the why for your compnay? for your own life even? hmmm… its got me thinking for sure!


PS: Big thanks to Cindy Nowicki for introducing me to this talk!