I’ve always been impressed by people who do it, smiling. That old guy in the Karate Kid, Ana White, Gary Vaynerchuk. The spirited champions of diverse passions who not only inspire others through them, but create a business from them.

Passion manifests itself in myriad forms and it’s perhaps never more potent than when it collides with an unbridled lustiness for success. It’s passion that makes people share their story. Such people of passion are the reason and inspiration for this book.

Where it begins

Smart marketing was once a dark art, before customers took control. Then, marketeers needed the touch of a watchmaker and the precision of a cardiac surgeon to find the perfect interplay of communications methods to get the sale.

Nowadays your sales force comprises the very people who buy your stuff. Advertising and direct mail has never mattered less, and demonstrating the essence, integrity and authority of your brand, more.

To be your evangelists, those activated customers need to have trust. They need to be engaged. And for them to produce the goods consistently through word of mouth marketing – founded today on the electrifying reach and pervasiveness of social networking – you need to foster loyalty.

In these customer-centric times we might be playing a different game to the one we’re used to, but there’s a constant that ties everything together. To be successful before, as we will, tomorrow, we need a burning passion for what we do.

The biggest difference is that today we need to prove it. Finding the right products to match our customers needs was enough, back then. Today faced by a world of competition, we need to go beyond the sell, and become the trusted aide, ally and counsel.

Put simply, we need to give everything we know, away.

Everything about where we began, everything about where we are, now, and everything about what we do, what we sell, and what the customer can do to make the most of everything we’ve got. Wherever the customer is, whenever they want it, and however they prefer to consume it.

And in doing so we need to take down the one road block that has hindered us from breaking down that glass ceiling protecting us from unlimited growth in the past. We need to embrace the competition, to share the great news from across our industry, and not in our little cocoon protecting us – and restricting us – from the success we deserve.

Today we’re in the era of the content concierge. You need to know who’s going to lead efforts to curate, create and aggregate information invaluable to your customers and crucial to your relationship-building efforts.

It could be you, or it could be someone else in your organisation who is as passionate and knowledgeable as you are when it comes to your business, customers and the industry in which you operate.

Realistic enough is the idea of having someone, a team, even, whose role is entirely dedicated to customer welfare and delight. To this end, many larger companies already have their own chief content officers, and community managers.

But your content concierge is different.

The content concierge needs to know what your customer wants, what your customer is saying, and provide them with everything they need – and more – to be flipping cartwheels in your favour.

The content concierge needs to speak frankly, authoritatively, honestly and openly. In this world of good and bad, you have to be prepared to roll with the punches and if negative stuff happens, don’t just bury it – embrace it.

A 2012 report by Reevoo (Bad reviews are good for business: The power of negative reviews) explained:

“But the surprising truth is that bad reviews and other negative feedback bring a host of benefits, from greater customer satisfaction to improved product development.

“Consumers spend four times as long on site when they interact with bad reviews, trust the reviews they see far more and convert nearly 70% more often.”

The content concierge first concentrates on the most important channel of communication for their company and customer, committed wholeheartedly to developing a solid reputation there before diversifying into new areas of opportunity.

But at all times, that content concierge is 100% devoted to bringing their brand to life. It takes resourcefulness, curiosity and a certain level of tech saviness, as well as the obvious passion, personality and prowess, to be a model content concierge – and that’s just today. Ask me next year what the prerequisites are and I expect the only constant will be that commitment to giving everything away.

What you really want to know is why in heck should you bother giving away all your secrets, when we’re living through tough times and it seems like you have more competitors by the month, willing customers away from your grasp.

You don’t really need to know or have the time to hear that I am physically forcing myself to write this book, using mediaeval instruments of torture at times to quell the Monday morning fug congesting my fragile mind.

Who cares that I’m castigating myself on being unsuitably distracted and playing the morning excuse card, especially since it is four minutes to midday and that aforementioned cover wouldn’t carry water even if it was a dromedary camel.

It doesn’t matter that writing a book is tough (jeez, does this guy ever stop whingeing?). You’re very much aware JK Rowling must have had thousands of sleepless nights.

And if you and I were the last people on earth, you’d still insist I mustn’t grumble, since compared to fighting wars, raising children and knuckling down to a haul of Harry Potter sequels, this gig you have in your hand must have been pretty easy to figure.

You know what? You have a point. It was simple to conceive. I’ve been inspired by so many business owners possessing the magical ingredients constituting Sharing Superheroes that the natural segue was to tell you all about it.

And now I’m going to give you my word that giving everything away is the first thing you’ll want to do when you finish this book. Finally, justifiably, you too will be a Sharing Superhero.

Superheroes? Really?

Last year some of the smarter folks in marketing started talking about it being the era of the chief content officer. That content was in some way the most pivotal part of any organisation looking to build a sustainable future.

I think in a short space of time, we’ve evolved from that perspective. It’s no longer about creating content, but about finding the content that is right for your customer, no matter its origin or format.

There are millions of smart people in this world, and as smartphone adoption becomes ever more prevalent, so they have a pen that creates content we can all view on the world wide web.

Some of my favourite blogs are written by people who just a few short years ago would never have been able to communicate across the world, let alone have a shop window for their expertise that is visible by billions.

The impact of content ubiquity is almost palpable for your business. Dovetailed with your own unique perspective, it is invaluable.

Which brings me on to the Sharing Superhero, she the subject of this very book you doubtless read on your incredible eInk device (in fact, self publishing itself is a feat you too will be considering before too long).

The Sharing Superhero realises the immense power she has with one eye on the amazing information relevant to her market, the other on her work and that of those around her in the business which rules her heart and mind.

Sharing is a team ethic – it can’t be compartmentalised. If you’re a sole trader, the ball’s in your court alone. If you work as part of a team, it’s essential your cadre shares passion for your business’ growth – or at the minimum, you find a single theme you’re all pumped about, start there. Whatever the size of your unit, the Sharing Superhero philosophy needs to be shared and worked throughout…

The Sharing Superhero is hyper-aware of every customer interaction, analysing and scrutinising even the nuances to harvest every little detail that could help others get the most out of her products and services.

The Sharing Superhero, more than anything, sees the opportunity in finding the time and resources to provide customers established and yet-to-be, with advice and ideas on every platform they populate.

The Sharing Superhero has founded an out-of-this-world reputation as the go-to expert – so vital in this austere era for every forward-thinking business – based on the 6 Ps of smart marketing, that you’ll be tested on later in this book.

The Sharing Superhero is growing a business that thrives today, and is unstoppable tomorrow. She is a constant source of inspiration and the beacon lighting the way for any organisation that wants to understand its customers better and build rock-solid relationships that both stand the test of time and create unprecedented levels of trust, engagement and loyalty.

It is the Sharing Superhero who best understands the power of word of mouth marketing; that we ourselves have no real control over that most powerful of marketing methods, but can only provide our customers with every tool and reason to spread the word about our good work and help grow our business through our being remarkable in their eyes.

I want you to be the very next Sharing Superhero and in the pages to follow we’ll be taking a look at what it takes to be such an incredible business operator.

Being a Sharing Superhero is having an innate knowledge of who you are, what your customers want, and being there with the goods before they even have to ask. It’s knowing where your customers are, and being in the right place, at the right time.

As we veer into a world where the internet, and access to information, is ubiquitous, the Sharing Superhero who, by definition, is designated a trusted advisor and content concierge by their customer communities, can make a success in any niche using the formula outlined in this book.

Make no mistake – being a pupil at Sharing Superhero School is challenging – but it’s fun, enriching and recklessly rewarding. It involves knowing yourself as much as it does the tools and tricks of Superherodom – so let’s not waste any time and dive straight in…

One last thing…

Secrecy is Kryptonite. To be a true Sharing Superhero you have to remember to not hold anything back. Whatever your customers want, you should not only provide it, but anticipate it.

Proactive responding is an art form that approaches scientific when you understand it, alchemic if you don’t. Just steer clear of the Kryptonite…

Read more: Sharing Superheroes: Start Engines!