I’m pretty happy with that book you might have heard about by now. It’s called Sharing Superheroes: Why Today’s Best Business Are Giving Everything Away – And Now You Can Too. You can grab a PDF of Sharing Superheroes here and go here to find out more about its launch.
Yesterday one of my local newspapers got in touch to ask why I’d written it. There’s a big campaign round here right now to get more businesses correctly aligned to the challenges and opportunities of being online, and so the questions were very much pointed towards helping people figure out their way in the electronic marketplace.
I still find it hard to believe there are many businesses who haven’t in some way or other been touched by the world wide web.
I hear plenty of modern-day grunts and grumbles akin to those old-fashioned mumblings of the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) brigade who counter every planning application on the grounds ‘it might affect me, one day’. But I haven’t yet found a single business who couldn’t enjoy some significant benefits of at the very least having an online presence.
But the web also sparks some major opportunities for collaboration and networking. It’s not about the pixels – it’s about connecting people. That’s why I hope to see some major real world collaboration taking place as a result of people becoming more switched on and clued up to the internet’s potential.
In the true spirit of helping those readers, and in doing so, yourself, to sell more stuff online, here’s that interview transcribed. As ever, let me know in the comments what you think – and whether I’m way outta line.
HACK: Why did you write Sharing Superheroes?
ME: I was seeing a great many businesses striking out online but with no clear intention other than trying to establish a presence on this new medium.
Many were effectively abusing the social networks by using them as ‘just another sales channel’. But they don’t work that way. They work because they are ‘social’.
And today wherever you are on the web, you need to be doing it – whatever ‘it’ is – for the benefit of your customer.
A long time ago businesses used to be successful by spending more on advertising, more on pushing their stuff to their customers of today and tomorrow. The game has changed.
Now the customers are in control, you have to provide them with a reason to buy from you now, and to buy from you again. Business today is all about trust, loyalty and engagement – and that’s why you have to be transparent, open, honest, and demonstrate your expertise to show them you’re precisely in step with what they want and need.
In short, you need to give everything you know, away – and that’s the essence of Sharing Superheroes.
How can you help businesses sell more stuff?
Every business needs an intimate knowledge not only of their customer wants, but how to reach them. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go on a course to learn how to use Twitter or Pinterest or whatever the social platform du jour might be, but it does mean you need to know the kind of content to create to push their buttons.
I’ve been a journalist, editor, marketer and broadcaster for many years. I know how to connect with customer communities and energise audiences. It’s not a secret; essentially it’s melding your excitement and expertise to the right format that will have the maximum impact on your customers. But it’s something that’s so easy to overlook when you’re crazy busy working in, rather than on, your business as we all are, from time to time.
Why do you think social media is so important in marketing these days?
Being social has always been important, but it’s never been easier to demonstrate that level of care that your customers expect than today.
Building relationships is the cornerstone of every business seeking sustainable success and having conversations and solving problems is something you can do on a global scale when you start acting on best practices in the world of social networking.
There are many examples of entrepreneurs who through persistence and selfless sharing have built mighty businesses online. Those with the greatest opportunity already have ‘bricks and mortar’ businesses because they know their customers implicitly.
Taking your business online with a definite set of goals and objectives, underpinned by a long-range strategy, is the way to make your customers and bank manager smile in today’s commercial environment.
What do you think is the biggest issue for town centre economies?
I’m a big fan of open source software for its ubiquitous availability and which relies on the support of a passionate and committed community for its success.
I see that as a metaphor for the success of Southport into the future – having a recognised network of established businesses and self-starters powered by the entrepreneurs themselves, to meet regularly and discuss the challenges and opportunities of all its members.
I do believe networking has to be free to encourage participation of the greatest number of people, and supported by venue owners who in return for hosting regular get-togethers gain awareness of what they have to offer among a huge group of the town’s most influential.