Content Marketing: Why Helping Beats Selling Anytime

October 31, 2012 Content Marketing no comments

Jay Baer (courtesy of

In a cluttered world littered with a gazillion advertising messages, there is only one way to truly stand out from the crowd.

And that, according to renowned social media marketing consultant Jay Baer, is to focus on helping your customers rather than selling to them.

Thanks to a podcast from Copyblogger Radio, I learned from Jay that there are three ways to fill the top of the communication funnel.

Let us go through each of these in turn.

1) Top of Mind Awareness

This is the traditional approach adopted by big money advertisers. Your goal here is to maintain a consistent messaging presence in your marketplace.

To rule in this “always-on” space of media, you have to invest significant sums in advertising and promotions. The crazier and more outlandish your “Big Idea” is, the better it sticks in your prospect’s mind.

Naturally, there is a tremendous amount of competition here. Besides, consumers are getting increasingly skeptical and jaded with all forms of advertising.

Which brings us to the next level of awareness.

2) Frame of Mind Awareness

If you’ve heard of the term Inbound Marketing, you’ll probably be aware of how this works.

Working to “pull” your customers in through your digital marketing funnel, frame of mind awareness is the domain of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Content Marketing.

Here, web search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo! come into play. If your company can create strong content that is searchable with lots of “google juice”, you’ll be able to draw interested parties keen to look for specific services or products.

However, there is a limit here. Such an approach would only draw those who already have a desire or intent to desire to consume/purchase.

3) Friend of Mine Awareness

So what’s better than frame-of-mind awareness? Jay Baer calls this the friend-of-mine awareness.

This superior approach looks at tapping the best of both worlds. According to Jay, what happens with friend of mine awareness is that “you seek to have the prospective customer allow you inside their circle of trust, where you become more than just a purveyor, but rather a valuable resource.”

Now how can you get into that vaunted inner circle of your customers?

Enter YOUtility

To achieve friend of mine awareness, you need to retool your company to be useful, helpful and generous to potential customers without expecting an immediate return.

In Jay’s words, you should become a YOUtility – a company that seeks to provide a useful service to customers or potential customers in an almost altruistic manner.

Quoting from Jay:

“Sell something, and you make a customer. Help someone, and you make a customer for life.” – Jay Baer

Apparently, that’s the only way to stand out in an “avalanche of invitations”.

Examples of such noble companies and entrepreneurs include the following:

  • Geek Squad from Best Buy, which provides hundreds of free videos on YouTube to help you fix your tech stuff;
  • Taxi Mike, a taxi driver in the Banff ski resort area (Canada) who distributes free guides to F&B outlets; and
  • Vanderbilt University Medical Centre with their free BabyTime iPhone app.


Courtesy of Best Buy

The Bikini Principle

In the podcast, I also learned about the bikini principle (or concept) which was coined by Sean of

Quoting from his blog:

“I found out the age-old concept of the bikini to apply. That by giving away 90% of the content, and keeping 10%, the attraction factor was just as strong, if not twice as strong (there are reasons for me saying ‘twice as strong). And yes, what the bikini didn’t reveal, was the part the audience most wanted (naturally), and was the part they were willing to pay for.”

This can be represented by the cartoon below:

Courtesy of This Website

The idea of the giving away 90% of one’s product probably applies better to content rich products online such as software, e-books, email content, music or movies which have low distribution costs. In digital marketing parlance, they have called this a lead magnet

I suppose consultancy services and training may also work this way.

Are We Ready for “Altruistic” Marketing?

I wonder if Asian companies are ready for such “altruistic” marketing strategies to garner heartshare and eventually walletshare?

As Jay has shared, achieving friend of mine awareness does require a certain amount of generosity and willingness to extend help which goes beyond short-term transactions to long-term goodwill.

In a way, what I hope to do with Cooler Insights is to provide free business advice and views which can help entrepreneurs and managers of any shape, size or stripe. However, I am clear that what drives me to do so isn’t expectation of any return but just an interest to contribute to the body of knowledge.

At least for now. 🙂

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.

Join The Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>