I want to preface this article first by saying that this is a framework for growth, and it’s not just an easy shortcut for somebody looking to rack up more Twitter followers. Following this strategy will point you in the correct direction, but it’s impossible for me to give you a step-by-step guide. It doesn’t work like that. In order to build growth, it takes a person who is directly involved with the specific task at hand. It takes a person who puts in the work, gets their hands dirty, and then come out on the other side with a complete understanding of the nuances that make their business unique. It would be impossible for me to give you a step-by-step manual that magically skyrockets your growth.
But, what I can give you is a framework for a strategy that actually works in today’s world. A strategy that works for almost any type of business, but works best for a local business, or an up-and-coming artist, or even for a successful business that might find itself trapped in a slow moving industry. I can point you in the right direction and then you can begin asking the right questions.
The big name companies that have been built in this modern era have all had to be masters at this strategy in order to get there. Netflix, Nike, Starbucks, Apple, HBO and tons of others have built their names by executing these ideas. Having a remarkable product, telling a story that resonates and giving people value is an incredibly effective way to build a successful business.
The last concept I talk about, (“Give The Gift Of Value”) is a relatively new technique and if you pay enough attention to what the big boys are doing, you’ll actually be able to notice them executing on this front. It may seem tough, but we are actually living in pretty exciting times when you know what you’re looking for.
The concept is simple: if you don’t have a remarkable product, then you have an average product and people don’t notice average products. If people don’t notice you, then they will not be talking about you. If people are not talking about you, then other people will never be able to learn of your existence. If people don’t know you exist, then they will never show up to your store to buy stuff. Not exactly rocket science here.
A marketer’s job should not begin at the end of the product development process, but instead a marketer should be involved from the very beginning.
Your remarkable product is in one of two stages. Either:
Stage 1 — You know already have one.
Great! You either built this remarkable product by happy coincidence or with smart planning and great execution. Either way, your customers love it. Good for you!
Stage 2 — You have a product, but don’t think it is remarkable.
Well, if YOU don’t think it is remarkable, then you’re probably right. But, if you have been getting a few customers and you believe that your product is “close” to being remarkable, then you should look at ways to tweak it and bring out some of its more remarkable qualities. If you can tweak it juuuuuuuuust right, then you might have a remarkable product on your hands after all. ☺
If tweaking isn’t a real option, then it is back to the drawing boards for you. Go all the way back to square one and build a product that your most passionate customers would find remarkable. Start building for that group and you’ll be off in the right direction.
There is no point in lying to yourself or rushing through this process. This sort of things takes time and hard work. Marketing isn’t some secret type of magic. There are no voodoo spells or gimmicks that will make demand for your product skyrocket towards the moon. So, if you don’t truly have a remarkable product on yours hands, then chill and take your time. Don’t speed by this step. Stay here and work on this element. There is ZERO chance you make it in the long run without a product that people find remarkable.
Marketing must begin with having a remarkable product. If you are stuck trying to sell a product nobody wants, then you are just that, stuck.
Craft and Tell A Story:
Once you have a product that is truly remarkable to a specific group of people, then your next step is to craft a story.
In today’s world people have everything they need and, because of this, they now decide what they want based mostly on word-of-mouth recommendations from friends or people within their network.
People give out these recommendations the same way they talk about everything else: by telling a story. People have been sharing stories as long as humankind has been around and it is an innate part of human behavior.
People use stories as a mental shortcut for remembering stuff. When annoying Patriot fans brag about Tom Brady being the best QB ever, they say something like, “He was a underdog coming out of the draft. He won the battle against a perennial Pro-Bowler in Drew Bledsoe to keep the starting job. He has won the Super Bowl 4 freakin’ times! And the dude has always been clutch.”
I have heard that argument so many times it makes me want to avoid watching the Patriots all together (!!!). But, to be honest, I get it. That narrative is just a mental shortcut for remembering that Mr. Brady is one of the best QBs to ever play the game. People don’t talk about him as the greatest ever by reciting his 6718237612 pass attempts, 330 career completions on third down, and a 77.962 accuracy percentage all time.
People are much more likely to share information through a story than they are by trying to recite a bunch of raw numbers. It’s just much easier for people to comprehend and remember a story than it is to remember a million different facts.
I wrote a super short example of Apple doing just this, here.
Stories are a marketer’s dream tool. Don’t ever waste your time with out-dated advertising tools like billboards, radio, cable, or even Google Adwords. These are not innate to human behavior and are nowhere near as effective as a story that sticks and resonates.
Give The Gift Of Value:
When you give a person something that they value, you are showing them the utmost respect.
All marketers must remember to treat people’s time as a precious resource. Time is finite and isn’t something that can be bought. Every single person cherishes their time and this is precisely the reason why giving people something of value is the best way to sell people stuff. You show people respect by not wasting their time.
When you give people something that they actually value, they will remember your generosity. Maybe not right away, but when you continuously give a person something of value, you are giving yourself more chances to build a relationship with that person.
The goal is to give people so much value that they rely on you, trust you, and view you as a valuable, personal connection.
There are many ways to gift value to people, but the lowest hanging fruit is to make valuable content for your target audience. If you are a small company, this is the easiest path towards growth. The content you put out shouldn’t be strictly about your product, but instead should be about the field that your product is in. For example, let’s say you own a punk rock bar. Putting out a blog that reviews all the local punk rock bands would be something of value to your customers. As opposed to just tweeting out a picture of the bar on a random Tuesday, which wouldn’t be of any real value for your target audience. Get it?
Remember, when people are buying stuff, they ask their network what purchase makes the most sense. This is the natural solution for people, because it is impossible to be an expert on everything. People listen to and like people that they trust.
Once you are somebody’s trusted, valuable connection, then that somebody will be happy to recommend you the next chance they get. You have given them so much value that they are happy to tell friends about how well you treated them. Most people would rather look smart than dumb, rich than poor, and cool than out-of-touch. So, people love to share things that make themselves look good. It builds up social currency.
This is how to spread the word about your business. This is how you sell things.
The best way for any business to grow is by building a product that is remarkable, telling a story that resonates with people who want to know about it, and by gifting value as often as possible. If you can do those three things you will be talked about, stand out, and build trust amongst your target-consumers. This is the only marketing strategy that consistently works in this modern world.
I write stories like this on Medium because branding and W.O.M. marketing are incredibly interesting to me. If you find them interesting as well, feel free to get in touch with me and we can chat. Thanks for reading☺.