"Play your cards close to the vest. " “Knowledge is Power. "
In the industrial age, knowledge was indeed power. Your manufacturing processes gave you a competitive edge. Knowing how (and where!) to find the oil reserves put you ahead of your competition. It was the Cold War era, there was a lot of spy vs. spy stuff going on. Everyone was paranoid, desperately clinging to each morsel of data like it was the last clean bathroom stall at Woodstock.
But those days are over.
Now we're in the information age, and the new mantra is “Content is King". These days, sharing knowledge is power. That power can mean hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars in revenue.
Are you sharing your knowledge with your prospective customers? Do you “open the kimono" and allow them to peek behind the scenes into your business, or are you still playing things “close to the vest"?
Certainly there are some things you'll want to keep confidential. I'm not suggesting that you over-disclose, but the more you share with your target audience, the more likely they are to buy from you and the more quickly you will grow your business.
For instance, I have a business that does article submission for authors ( http://www.ArticleMarketer.com ) and I have taken advantage of many opportunities to openly share what my chief competitors www.submityourarticle.com and www.thephantomwriters.com seem to feel is “confidential" information. They don't seem be interested in sharing information with their prospective customers.
Article submission services are certainly not a new concept on the web, and I'm not here to talk about the reasons you should submit articles. I simply want to demonstrate how different business owners approach the concept of sharing information with their prospects, and the difference it makes in results.
Actual results: At the time of writing this article, my article submission site has been accepting articles for only a few weeks and already hundreds of authors, each representing one or more business interests, have signed up and are submitting their articles through our service.
In contrast, one of my competitors proudly states that he has been in business for almost 5 years and has served “100+ online businesses". Why so few? How come his business is growing so slowly while Article Marketer has grown so fast? It's because we share the information necessary for authors to make a decision.
Another example: http://www.ezinearticles.com is an article repository. Christopher Knight has put together a terrific site that meets the needs of his constituency and he does a great job of sharing information. He's light years ahead of his competitors www.goarticles.com and www.articlecity.com because he communicates with his customers. Just the other day I received a note from him about a new feature he's added to his system that makes it easier for authors. His competitors don't seem to do the same thing. I've never heard from them. I hear from Chris regularly.
What Information Should Be Shared? This is a very easy question for you to answer for your own business. Share whatever information your prospective customers need in order to make a purchasing decision. Share whatever information your existing customers need in order to decide to come back for more.
For my prospective customers (people who want to promote their businesses) this is pretty simple, but my competitors don't seem to do it.
The information we share is one of the main reason we've grown so big, so fast. For instance, right on the home page of my site you can find a long list of some of the places we distribute articles. There is no such list available at my competitor's sites.
Of course, publishing this list on my site could potentially give my competitors enough information to steal business away from me - but I'm really not worried. Our complete distribution list is so long and diverse that if my competition steals this partial list from me, I'm still way ahead of them.
And that's the key to knowing what information should be shared. My prospective customers aren't interested in knowing every publisher, editor, content site, article repository, newsletter, forum and distribution list we have on our list, they merely want to see and judge for themselves that our list is comprehensive. Once they see this partial list (about 100 of the sites we submit to), they are satisfied. And that's the goal of your information sharing campaign: to satisfy your prospect.
Another bit of information you can share is a demonstration of other customers (in my case authors) using your services. That's the reason so many businesses use testimonials. At Article Marketer, we've taken the concept to a whole new level with a “ticker" that scrolls across the screen identifying new authors submitting articles, the titles of recent articles that were submitted, places they were distributed to, articles being distributed in a certain category – and it's all done in real time. (Go see it for yourself - it's pretty cool!)
It's better than any testimonial – because it expresses action and demonstrates current activity on the site. Psychologists call it “social proof" It's the reason that crowded booths at trade shows are more popular than deserted booths at trade shows. It's why “seat fillers" are hired to sit in at the Oscars when someone leaves their seat. It's why savvy club owners make sure there's a line outside the door, even if they have to pay line-standers. Crowds draw crowds.
The information you share doesn't have to be confidential. I'm not suggesting that you give out your financial data or expose your proprietary methodology, but you do have to give your prospective customers a good sense of what they're buying.
When you're trying to determine what information to give your prospects, answer these questions: What do I get? If you can show them what they get in such a way that it's clearly better than what they'll get anywhere else, they'll be satisfied. Are other people doing it? Using testimonials and other “social proof", allow your prospective customers to peek behind the scenes and get a sense that other people are using your products and services.
Does sharing your information work? Yes. Content is truly king and it's going to stay that way for quite awhile.
Share your knowledge with the world. Get your expertise out to millions of prospective customers by submitting articles to 1000s of editors and publishers eager to publish them. Visit http://www.articlemarketer.com and distribute your articles all over the web. http://www.articlemarketer.com