Success Lesson from ACT!

In his article over at the Software Advice blog titled “The Birth of a Category Known as Contact Management“, Mike Muhney (co-founder of ACT! Software) brings out some history surrounding where ACT! came from.

What struck me was the fact that it was born of a need, a need both he and Pat Sullivan had. It was not born of a thought “what can we make that will make money”, but rather, “we need to do x, let’s make something that will do x. Hey, other’s need it too…”.

The first reason why ACT! was successful is because it did the core things that sales people needed.

Mike and Pat sold the sales people of host of laptop makers on the benefit of using ACT!. They then sold it to others. Remember, that once you sell a salesperson on an idea, it’s incredibly hard to un-sell them on it.

The second reason that ACT! was successful is because the targeted the right niche.

There’s a lesson in there for all of us, we need to deliver the core thing that our clients are paying for, and make sure that we are marketing to the right people.

Link Roundup 2011-09-10

Link roundup of what I’ve just read that I feel is worthy of a mention:

Mike Schneider and Aaron Strout guest post on Logic+Emotion: Location-Based Marketing: What’s in it for Me?

Wayne Schulz has two posts: You’d Have To Be Crazy To Ignore Email Newsletters and Use Boilerplate Replies To Pre-Qualify.

James Huff writes Ten WordPress Features That You May Have Missed.

More Cheese, Less Whiskers

On the ride to work this morning I listened to the podcast over at Duct Tape Marketing, where John Jantsch interviews Dean Jackson who “outlines several case studies in which he applies the customer’s best interest approach and produces incredible results where the sales only approach had failed miserably.”

Really enjoyed listening to this, and will a few more times yet.

via More Cheese, Less Whiskers :: Small Business Marketing Blog from Duct Tape Marketing.

Why Share Your Knowledge?

We see many big names in all industries that seem to just give away information, real knowledge like it’s going out of fashion.

I see the example of people like Seth Godin, David Armano, Dave Winer, Doc Searls, Mark Pesce, Wayne Schulz, Heather Smith, Robin Dickinson and Darren Rowse all of whom give away knowledge. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it is a list of a few A-Listers, a few well known in the local geographic area and a few that are well known in their field.

How can they give so much away and still make money? Should you do the same?

Let me state right upfront that I believe we should share our knowledge freely.

I’ll tell you why I believe that by relating a story told to me about four years. A mentor related this story to me. Listen to it and see what you think.

If I told you that by riding a skateboard to work you could solve the entire worlds pollution problems, would you do it?

No, you wouldn’t. Why not? Because you don’t own a skateboard.

Ok, so let me give you a skateboard. Will you ride a skateboard to work now?

No, you won’t. Why not? Because you don’t know how to ride a skateboard.

Ok, so let me give you a skateboard, let me give you lessons on how to ride the skateboard. Now, will you ride the skateboard to work now?

No, you still won’t. Why not? Because it’s too far, it might rain, part of the journey is uphill and it just takes too much effort.

The lesson here is that you can give someone the solution to a problem, the tools required and the education on how to use the tools and they still won’t go out and solve the problem for themselves.

This is a normal thing that happens everyday. I pay others to grow my food, process it and transport it to a place convienient for me to pick it up. I pay others to fix my car, wire up new lights in the house or make a fancy meal. We all do it. It’s too much effort for me to do all those things, it’s easier for me to pay someone to do them for me.

What people want is to deal with someone that does know their stuff, someone that does have that intimate knowledge of the subject, someone who is an expert. More often than not, others, like me, are prepared to pay for others to do those things I’m not expert at. Often the only way they or I find out if you know your stuff or not, is by trial and error, at our cost.

But if we were to give away knowledge, it makes it easy for people to know what it is we know, what our expertise is. They may not understand all the subtleties of what they read, or maybe they do, but either way, by telling them what we know builds their trust in us. With that trust comes their patronage.

I can hear some that say “but what if they take that knowledge and apply it themselves?”. Well, there are two answers to that:

  1. Firstly, if they are not an expert in your field, they will take the knowledge you gave them and try it for themselves, make mistakes, spend more time doing the job that you would, they’ll either wear those extra costs or come back and engage your sevices.
  2. Secondly, if you can’t find a market amongst seven billion people, in a market in which other experts operate, then your marketing needs an overhaul. Perhaps you should give away some of your knowledge and give them a reason to invest their cash with you.

So how does one give away knowledge? Here are few ways:

For a contrary view, read this article on Six Pixels of Separation titled Free Content is Killing Media – I’d say that perhaps he has a point with regard to the media, but free content can definitely build your business.

So, what do you think? Are you going to give away some knowledge?