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Inbound Marketing Blog

    Reciprocity - Giving to Get

    Posted by Pat Owings

    Give, and YOU Will Receive!

    From an early age, we are taught that we need to be giving. This inherently goes against human nature. There is a primal instinct that we need to protect ourselves and get as much as we can for ourselves and our families. But we are taught through multiple channels that if we give without expecting to receive, it pays back in spades. I can think of several of my mentors who have put it in the following manner:

    • Guy Kawasaki – Be a baker and not the pie. Too many people think that there is a pie and they need to get as much of the pie as they can. It is better to be the baker and make pie for everyone to share.
    • Dave Ramsey – You need to give using an open palm. Clinching your fist to hold tightly to your money doesn’t work. Even a dog knows the difference between an open palm and a clinched fist.
    • HubSpot – Through their tremendous support...Charity Water is bringing fresh water to millions all over the world. This is something that most of us take for granted. 

    Marketing is going the same way. As the world has changed over the last twenty or so years, there is a shift in the mentality of people. Millennials already get this, but it takes some of us who are little older a while to catch on. People are have more buying choices than ever before. I can buy something as easy from China as I can down the street; the number of potential merchants is astounding.


    Price clearly still plays a role in who I choose, as does availability and delivery. But trust also plays a more important role than ever before. You can see this with the growth of the farm to table movement in the restaurant industry. Why do people like this? It supports the local communities, the food is always fresh, and it is theoretically better on the environment as the food did not require as much infrastructure to get it from the farm to the restaurant. But also, being local implies that there is more trust in people that you share the community with, and that they will be responsible and will also reinvest in the local economy. 

    So the big question is how do you build trust? First and foremost it must be earned. And like most things that are earned, time is a critical factor. All of us have been hurt by trusting too soon. In today’s world there is little place to hide as so much is available about each one of us online. If you are not trustworthy, it will be evident. Marketing therefore is largely based on trust in today’s world. We all know that marketers have pushed and made claims that were not able to be substantiated. In today’s world, if you oversell your product, people everywhere will hear about it and the trust in your company will be damaged quicker than ever. So since trust takes a long time to build but a short time to be destroyed, you need to move forward methodically and with a plan.

    One of the best ways to establish trust is to be up front and transparent. Additionally, you should educate your customers to the point where they don’t need your services or products. This always puts the fear of God in people. They are afraid that they will be put out of business if they do this. The only thing at risk is your ego. Just like the clinched fist, you need to open it up and trust your customers first. If you are providing a valuable service at a reasonable price. People pay for other people’s time. No one wants to do it all themselves. By educating your customers you are actually educating them on all the services that you are providing for them.

    But remember that in the education process it is about them. It is not about you and how grateful they should be to you for doing this for them. Think about what questions your customers have. What is it that keeps them up at night? What is the solution that they are looking for that could make their life easier? These are all great things to educate them on. Don’t be afraid to ask these questions to your customer’s either. Customers are more than willing to share their pain points. I know of a company that did just this and went from delivering television parts by bicycle to being a $12 billion dollar company! They listened to their customers’ needs and provided solutions.

    Also, don’t get hung up on producing great content. Everyone wants to produce great content, but if you don’t start you will never get better and if you don’t get better you will never produce great content.  

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    Topics: Inbound Marketing