Supermarkets and out of Town shopping centres both have the benefit of access to space that they cannot practically use for shopping space. Indeed then they pave it over and make it available to the shopping public as car parking space.
This is an obvious example that we are all familiar with. Its success though is apparent. As high streets empty and supermarkets experience record profits, it is clear that as part of a drive to offer affordability and convenience, abundant free parking has been instrumental in the success of out of town retail.
The example of free parking has parallels to just about any industry. Whatever business you are in, you will own or have access to assets that it is not practical for you to sell but your customers would value. There are many ways of adding value as part of the product cycle or in the sales process. Because the bulk of my readers and customers are in knowledge industries, I want to look just now at giving away IP.
“Are you out of your mind?”
You may think that giving away your core product, is not at all similar to giving people free parking at a supermarket. If I give away my IP, I won’t have anything to sell; my competitors will know my secrets and my core product will be devalued.
This isn’t really the case. The most important commodity that the large supermarket chains have is convenience. Essentially, by shopping there, we are buying back our own time, not having to go from butcher, to baker, to candle stick maker, taking up the whole of Saturday morning. They give away an important part of that convenience, by allowing you to park for free, making the brand and the actual act of shopping there more accessible.
Make Your Brand More Accessible
By giving away some of your IP, I don’t mean transferring ownership, but rather making your knowledge freely available to your customers, you create an environment where you appear more accessible.
For example: when you look at the digital industry that we are in, there is a fairly steep learning curve that our customers need to go through to buy with confidence. There are many false affordances, like extremely low budget solutions that outwardly seem capable. It is not easy for the uninitiated, to buy digital services with confidence.
That principle holds true of many other service industries, it is difficult to engage a solicitor or a surveyor for the first time, because the uninitiated will have few points of reference and it will be difficult to establish quality other than on price.
Through blogs, speaking engagements, helping out on forums and offering free advice on simple digital issues, we are able to help clients to engage with us with more confidence. We are able to inform them ahead of time about common digital mistakes (this can avoid awkwardly having to discuss them face to face) and inspire them to engage with the latest innovations. This way we are saved the burden of being too “salesy” and trying to cross sell and up sell during the buying phase. Educated customers are the best customers.
What You Can Do Today!
Step one, blog. If you don’t, start right now. You may not be good right away, but you will get better.
As those blogs and thoughts develop and your skill improves. Look to introduce case studies into your content mix. Good case studies are based on examples of work that relates to your ideal customer base and delivering the type of work you want to win from them. If your case studies are in essence a step by step guide to doing “it” right and avoiding common pitfalls. Your customer will be more confident in their ability to buy from you which is just as important as having confidence in your ability to deliver the correct solution.
If you have done any research, particularly if the results of that research are compelling data. It is worth engaging a designer to create some infographics. Data visualisations are hugely popular today as they make dry data far more compelling and accessible. Use the data to make compelling cases for engaging with your organisation, let the numbers do the talking. 3rd party statistics are more convincing than anything from your own experience.
Analytics: If you publish this content to your website, keep an eye on the analytics. See what is resonating with your online audience and use that data to improve your work. I can give you something for free right now; why not try our analytics iPhone app. http://fastanalyticsapp.com/