“What’s in it for me?”

Every one of your prospects asks that question when they take a minute to consider your company, your product and your message. When consumers purchase your brand, click through pages at your website or reply to Tweets from your company, they are investing in your knowledge and in the environment you create. How can you reward them for their time while simultaneously nurturing brand loyalty among your already faithful customer base?

As I see it, the most immediate and rewarding method (for you and for your prospects and customers) is to freely share your knowledge. In other words:

Teach, don’t preach!

Here are three ways you can do just that. Learn to teach consumers something new, without lecturing about all the advantages your product or brand has to offer.

The instructional video

Take a look at Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo produces clear, concise videos, hosted by knowledgeable, likeable spokespersons. The company says up front what each video is about, and in less than three minutes, viewers know much more about some aspect of credit than they did when they first clicked “play.” One important metric to bear in mind: You have approximately eight seconds to grab your potential customers with video content before they move on to something else. Make sure your video is simple, entertaining and engaging –right from the start.

Instructional videos generally target prospects, though they certainly could be valuable to customers, as well. Everyone can benefit from useful tips, how-tos or an enjoyable presentation filled with helpful information about a specific, popular topic.

Content that goes behind-the-scenes

What makes those behind-the-scenes features on DVDs so fascinating? They show real people making real movie magic. So, take a lesson from Hollywood: Never believe your organization is boring or without something beyond the brand to offer.

If you make a great product, tell your audience how you go about doing so. (For ideas to get you started, check out Evernote’s podcasts.) Maybe there’s somebody seeking inspiration on how to run a business, and they want to look to you for that kind of know-how. Don’t be afraid to reveal how you make something great (although you’ll want to protect any company secrets, of course). This behind-the-scenes look can provide education and insight to those who value your organization, while it also humanizes your company. There’s real value to prospects and customers alike in knowing that a product is made by people they can relate to.

While a behind-the-scenes approach goes in-depth to provide additional content for your customer base, it could also attract new customers, as well. You never know who is going to benefit from the expertise that only your company can provide.

A topic unrelated to your product

Have you ever seen the extra features included on any of filmmaker Robert Rodriguez’s DVDs ((Desperado, Once Upon a Time in Mexico,e.g.)? Rodriguez always includes a “Ten Minute Cooking School,” teaching viewers how to make his favorite recipes or a recipe from one of his films. Usually, this video has nothing to do with the mechanics of the movie on the disc, but is a fun little extra for the Rodriguez brand-faithful. This approach typically requires a charismatic and engaging spokesperson with something witty and fun to offer.

Engaging customers with a topic that’s unrelated to your product represents the deepest level of customer interaction you can provide, though it also may prove useful in attracting a completely different –and perhaps completely unexpected –demographic, too. The other value created by this approach is that it shows you don’t take yourself or your company too seriously. Always take your work seriously, but don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone once in a while.

The one thing I haven’t mentioned yet is selling. If you’re busy “teaching, not preaching,” when exactly do you sell your product? You don’t. You sell by not selling, and in this media landscape, that’s one of the most valuable and endearing qualities of all.

The next time your customers ask “What’s in it for me?” respond with shared knowledge, inspiration and fun. If you do, the selling will take care of itself.

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