When Adrian Segar owned a solar energy manufacturing company, he learned a lesson about making quality content available to his clients. It’s a lesson that has served him well in subsequent marketing situations, including events.
Here’s an important lesson I learned about marketing while running a solar business thirty years ago, forgot, and learned again after publishing my first book in 2009. With the rise of online, this lesson has never been more important than it is today.
Succeeding in business in a commodity market
In 1979 I was an owner of Solar Alternative, a Vermont solar manufacturing company. It was the height of the first “energy crisis”, and solar was, forgive me, hot. We manufactured solar hot water systems, which we retailed, wholesaled and installed all over New England. Solar hot water was a fairly easy business to enter in those days, and our small company, which employed about a dozen people, had plenty of competition, some of it providing equipment of questionable quality.
Apart from the solar collectors, which we manufactured using a few hand tools and our big investment, a ten foot sheet metal brake, all the other solar hot water system components could be purchased from any well-stocked plumbing wholesaler. We developed a reputation for supplying reliable systems that could stand the severe New England winters, but so did many of our competitors.
Our company needed a way to successfully differentiate itself from significant competition.
We noticed that our customers were unwilling to pay for information about how to correctly select and install solar hot water systems. There are many ways that these systems can fail or provide sub-optimum energy output, and we had learned how to avoid them. Our potential customers were willing to shell out big bucks for the systems themselves, but they did not want to pay separately for our hard-won knowledge.
So we gave away our expertise.
The one differentiator between Solar Alternative and our abundant competitors became our unique willingness to provide free, unlimited advice to the wholesalers and end-users who investigated and/or purchased our products.
We were happy to freely share our valuable content—how to build and install high quality, reliable solar hot water systems—to anyone who asked. We gave away our content for free. We made money from the mark-up on our products when our prospects trusted our expertise and decided to purchase.
Posted with the permission of Adrian Segar. To read the rest of this article click here http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/marketing-2/2012/02/content-is-marketing-profits-come-from-somewhere-else/