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!


This is a 4 minute, raw, unedited caffeine-fueled passion-rant. I recorded it on my phone while driving down San Thomas Expressway on my way home from work.

I talk about how we should throw away old thinking that leads with web hierarchies and archetectures and instead enable a multi-dimensional approach to sites  so we can FREE the content to live where ever the audience is seeking it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Do you agree? Do you think i’m way off? Do you have an alternative perspective? Do you have any experience with customer journey mapping or content marketing? SHARE! I’m starving for a dialog on this topic 🙂

Also, this is the first time i’ve done an audio blog. Let me know what you think about this approach/format.


(correction: I say iPad 4s at one point when I meant to say iPhone 4s)


I was reading What’s the Return on Investment (ROI) of Content Marketing? (a useful article with nice infographics and links to other useful articles) and it contained a great definition of content marketing excerpted from another great article, Top Ten Reasons Why Your Content Marketing Strategy Fails. Here’s how Valeria Maltoni, the “Conversation Agent” defines content marketing in that article: 

“The definition – content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

It’s the opposite of interruption marketing. You create great content that attracts customers and prospects, educates them, and potentially engages them in a conversation with you.”  

I’d love to know what you think. Is this definition good enough? Could it be better? Is it missing anything?


Yep! I like the term “upcycle” so much that I am making it work within the context of what I do for a living (digital marketing). No longer will I use the terms “repurpose,” “tune” or “tweak” when speaking about content.

Wait. Wait. Wait. “but what the hell is upcycle” you ask? Great question!

There are varying definitions (just search the web). Simply put (by me), it’s when you take elements of an item(s) to create something completely different that becomes more valuable than the original.

Upcycling is a term I’ve heard most used in the crafting/Etsy world. One of the most awesome examples of upcycling I’ve seen is the work done by Enlightened Platypus.


Her sweaters are spectacular. AND, they are far more interesting, creative and valuable than the original bits she so creatively used to execute her vision.

If we recycle to get rid of something (because it no longer has a use), we upcycle to reimagine it. It’s the difference between working with “junk” versus “recovered” materials. The difference between being a garbage man and being an artist. Just semantics, I know… but semantics matter in my world. I was reminded of this fact just this morning while partaking of MarketingProfs University’s Content Marketing Crash Course. Ann Handley and CC Chapman spoke directly to the importance of “reimagining” content instead of recycling it. That instantly made me think of upcycling.

Hence, from this day forward, I will no longer talk about how to simply recycle content. no. no. Instead, I will speak to the importance of upcycling content to reimagine it. Join me!