The Power of Help in Marketing
In his book Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is about Help Not Hype, Jay Baer extolls the value of smart marketing by providing self-serve information, radical transparency and real-time relevancy. I love this philosophy and look for it in my own interactions with businesses. Here are three recent experiences about the power of help for marketing your business.
1. Women’s Plumbing Repair
I had a leaking shower-tub faucet, so I searched for a “plumber near 94612” and found “Women’s Plumbing Repair” on Yelp. The reviews looked excellent so I called. Instead of getting a receptionist though, I got an answering machine message saying, “Please do not leave a message here as I have hundreds of messages that I’m unable to check. If you need help, please call or text my cellphone number at …” I was surprised by this message, but also impressed, because if they had so many messages on their voicemail. To me, that meant they must be busy and therefore good at what they do. So I called and left a message on the cell number. Jac called me back and left me a message this time. She said to send her a text with the details of when we could meet etc, so I did and we scheduled something. Since I figured she would likely need a part for the faucet, I asked her if she wanted a photo and here’s what ensued.
Not only did she tell me how to get the part, but she also referred me to a supplier who could help me source the part, and she told me that I could do the work myself. Wow! She didn’t want to charge me. Yes, my job was small, but I was quite willing to pay to get it done. Instead of her taking every project, Jac is building up goodwill by being super helpful. As the Yelp reviews and her full voicemail box attest, the power of help is definitely working.
I got the diverter part from the manufacturer and another one from the supplier and both were free. I did need some help installing it, but I was able to get that from Jason, my handy HOA maintenance person who I’ll talk about next. Oh and one more thing, since this post is about marketing and social media, my neighbor Philip offered to help anyone having a similar problem on Facebook through our private neighborhood group, so all in all it was very much a community project. Philip showed me how to remove the faucet, Jason helped me drill away some of the travertine (marble) to allow for the new diverter to be installed and Jac helped me find the part.
I am extremely grateful to all three people here and was particularly impressed by Jac’s helpfulness. I definitely know who to call if I have a bigger plumbing issue or need to refer a plumber to someone. In fact if you’re ever in need of a plumber in the Oakland area, I recommend you call Women’s Plumbing.
2. Jason Parker HOA Maintenance
Jason Parker is a handyman who helped our HOA on various small projects in the building. He has built a reputation for being helpful not just by fixing things and helping people install new lights, TV mounts and electrical wiring, but also because of the tips he offers on Facebook from time to time, just for the good of the community. Every few weeks, Jason posts a tip to our private group page which is very helpful. He doesn’t ask if anyone needs help or offer his services. He simply provides useful information out of the blue. This is usually information which someone might need and use at some point, but it is unsolicited and just plain helpful. What this does is keep Jason top of mind for building residents and homeowners. It also makes people feel like they know and understand Jason and that he can be trusted. Then the next time someone needs some done work in the building, who do you think they think of first? That’s right Jason Parker HOA Maintenance man is who. He’s also available via text and phone and is just a really good guy. He has used power of help to build strong relationships with residents of our building and in so doing, we trust him and think of him first for any odd jobs that we need to get done.
3. Smog Fail Repair
I recently needed to get my smog check certificate for renewing my registration and took my car to the nearest Smog Test station. To my surprise, the car failed. How horrifying! The tester told me that I could get the car repaired by my mechanic or any smog repair shop and also that I could apply for financial assistance from the State of California to offset some of the expenses. I asked if the failure could be due to the cooler weather or the car being cold and the tester said no. The tester also indicated that the car had failed quite substantially, so I was very concerned.
I have a 1998 BMW 323is and have been taking it to Bavarian Professionals for years. (I was referred to them by a friend I trust.) I drove home from the Smog test station and called Bavarian Professionals. I told them that my car had failed the smog test and they said they would be happy to schedule an appointment, but I might want to try driving the car for a bit longer before getting a smog retest. They recommended driving the car for at least 15 minutes on the freeway before getting the car tested again, apparently because the catalytic converter takes a while to warm up. They could easily have taken my car in and charged me for a diagnostic and any repair they felt like doing, but instead they told me the truth about the car and offered a free solution. I said I would try that first before scheduling an appointment, so a couple of weeks later, I did just that. I drove the car on the freeway for about 30 minutes and then took into into the same smog test station as I had been to before. The car passed the test easily and there were no questions asked. What a relief! If I had spoken to a mechanic who was just trying to get money out of me, I probably could have spent a few hundred dollars on needless repair. I am extremely grateful for the honesty of Bavarian Professionals who once again rose to the occasion to earn my trust. Their power of help leads to happy and loyal customers like me. I will always take my car to them for service.
Lessons from these examples:
- While it may be tempting to take any job that comes your way, think about it from a longer view perspective. How many people would have heard about the service provider if each of the above people had just taken the job instead of being helpful? And how many people will hear about them since they were helpful? That’s right, a lot more.
- Doing the right thing earns trust and trust is crucial to staying in business and earning more work than you can handle.
- Make sure your car’s engine is nice and warmed up before you get a smog check.
- Always offer value and treat your customers like you would treat your friends.
- As Jay Baer says: “Smart marketing is about help, not hype.” Helping earns trust. Being helpful can be a powerful marketing tool.
Have you had any experiences in which you were particularly wowed by the customer service or “un-marketing” of a business or service professional? What does the power of help mean to you? Please share your experience in the comments below. Thank you!