What is your real product?
What does Starbucks really sell? Coffee? Before Starbucks came along, coffee was 75 cents at the gas station. But then they started selling more expensive coffee. How did they do that? How could they justify selling regular coffee for $1.61, and Vanilla Soy Lattes for $3.95?
Their product is not their coffee, it’s the experience. It’s how they make you feel. It’s sitting with your friends or fellow freelancers with your Macbook Pro studying or writing a blog post.
They make money with coffee, but their product is the whole Starbucks experience.
What’s Harley-Davidson’s real product, Motorcycles? Well, Honda, Kawasaki and Suzuki sell motorcycles. Harley-Davidson’s real product is the experience of being a Harley rider. The exclusive club of badasses who roar across America’s back roads. The paraphernalia, the culture, the rallies.
What is Facebook’s product? That’s an easy one – I’m part of that club. It’s being part of my extended friends’ network of fellow writers, artists, designers, social media junkies. It’s sharing with friends and family. It’s the memes, the baby pictures, the jokes, and the occasional political rant.
But Facebook makes money selling advertising.
Some Companies Would Be Nothing Without Content
In 2009 when I was laid off my software sales job I started blogging to try to build my own consulting business. But I had to learn how to do it, and my go-to resource was Copyblogger.com. I learned how to write from their Copywriting 101 series. I learned how to provide value while marketing online from their Internet Marketing for Smart People series.
All that was free content. I didn’t even know what they sold until I received an email offering a course called Teaching Sells. And then they started selling premium WordPress templates.
Now Copyblogger is one of the fastest growing software companies, with a SaaS Platform, a hosting company and premium WordPress themes.
But their main product – and I would say their real product – is their content. That software stuff is just how they make money.
Their content made me a part of their “Third Tribe,” which I totally identified with. I was a member of the club of people who wanted to sell and make money online, but didn’t want to be cheesy or uncool about it.
Without content, Copyblogger wouldn’t have a business.
What Is Your Real Product?
Everything is a commodity these days. Whether you sell real estate, software development services, or vegan cookbooks.
And you go about your day trying to market your commodity product (or service). You even use content marketing to do that. That’s another checkmark you check off, along with the social media check mark, the email marketing check mark, the networking checkmark, the trade show checkmark.
And because you treat content as just another marketing tactic, it doesn’t really work for you. You blog and blog, but you get nowhere.
How do you fix this?
First, you must define what you really sell. What’s the point of view you hold that matters to your client base? How can you make them feel empowered? How can you teach them to do something new so that they can change their lives?
What you sell your customers helps them achieve results that makes them happy or fulfills a need. A car gives them a means of transportation. A coffee gives them a jolt in the morning. A consulting service gives them a better strategy.
But because your product or service is really just a commodity, you’ve got to think about how else you can make your clients happy, how you can empower them, teach them, make their lives better.
As Jay Acunzo of NextView Ventures says:
Content marketing is just solving the same problems that your product solves through media you create and promote.
You should treat your content like a 2nd product. Actually, you should treat your content like your most important product.
Because it’s not what you sell that’s your product – it’s how you make your clients feel. It’s the value you provide. It’s the point of view you bring. It’s the voice you give your tribe. That’s way more than what you sell.
The best way to do that is by sharing your content – your essence, your tribe’s essence – and then everything else follows on from there. Until you finally sell them something – a product – but not THE product.
If you treat your content like a product, your whole perspective will change. Things will start to click for you. You’ll be much more successful as a content marketer.