Sweet blog content makes business delicious

by Shannon Paul on March 29, 2009

carrotcake1Blogging done well has the power to engage, excite and evangelize people around a business or product like nothing else. When people talk about the power of social media engagement, they’re not talking about the results of requiring your sales staff to create profiles on LinkedIn — they’re referring to the amazing things that happen when you create real relationships on behalf of your business with real people online.

Trust is a requirement in fostering any long-term relationship.

Share your recipes
To truly engage in social media, businesses need to trust employees and customers in order for employees and customers to trust them. In relationships, trust rests on our ability to share our vulnerability with others.

One of the best ways to share the most valuable aspects of our business is by becoming a resource. However, being a real, trusted resource  in any industry means businesses need to be secure enough to share their recipes.

Nobody could make cakes as good as my Granny. I have several of her recipes and even if I use the exact same ingredients she used, mine never taste as good as hers. She passed away a few years ago, but every time I use one of her recipes I think of her.

There may be risks involved with sharing recipes for success, but the benefits are much more compelling.

Your cake will still be delicious
Even if I can bake I may not want to bake. Others also may be okay with the fact that they don’t bake as well as you. Some may simply view baking as an inconvenience.

You can give away the secrets to your success and others will still want you to do it for them if what you have to offer is truly valuable.

The RIGHT people will want your cake
If I have more information about the ingredients and process involved in making your cake I can make better decisions about buying the exact cake from you that fits my needs and I will have realistic expectations.

This can reduce customer service issues and disappointment that results from a lack of information and misunderstanding.

You’ll make better cakes as a result of customization and collaboration
If I know what goes into making your cake I may look for opportunities to customize your cakes to suit my particular needs. Rather than ruling out your cake as a viable option, I may see an opportunity to partner with you to find a custom solution by omitting and/or suggesting new ingredients.

I may even think of a new way to use your cake, thereby opening your business up to an entirely new market segment.

People will trust you for all things cake
While I may never love any business as much as my Granny, I think the same rules of association still apply. Even if I never buy a cake from you, every time I use your recipe to make a cake I’ll think positively of your business.

Over time, I will likely trust your opinion on all things related to cakes, and I may even recommend your cakes to everyone I encounter. I may do this with face-to-face connections, but I may also do this online by linking pictures, stories and videos of my cake to the recipe posted on your blog and thus the cycle continues.

This kind of trust and enthusiasm enables what Gary Vaynerchuk refers to as word of mouth on steroids.

A lot of businesses and individuals are doing a great job of giving their recipes away AND succeeding in business.

  • Hubspot offers a free website grader that evaluates the marketing effectiveness of a website.
  • SHIFT Communications shared their template for a social media press release.
  • Google offers a free tool that helps you track trends online.
  • ABC posts new episodes of top-rated shows like Lost and Grey’s Anatomy to be viewed on its website just hours after regular broadcast times.

Yes, the above photo is a scan of my Granny’s carrot cake recipe in her handwriting — my favorite by the way. She mailed this recipe to my mom folded up in a letter when I was just a child.

Somehow, I can’t help but think the memory of her cake is made more delicious and meaningful as a result of having shared it rather than if she kept it to herself. That’s why I chose to share it here with you.

Maybe the what and the how of what we do isn’t where the real value lies. What if the real deliciousness of what we offer lies within the context of us and our willingness to deliver results?

Why not share your roadmap? Without you, even the most brilliant recipe simply adds up to a bunch of words on a page.

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{ 19 comments }

March 30, 2009 Eric Brown

Shannan, Good Morning,
Great Post, Thank You. I think that one thing your post illustrates about Social Media is that it Engages the Customer, as opposed to talking at the Customer.

As Business Owners, we should have always been talking with the customer. That’s how it used to work, and perhaps we are returning to the need for Connection, before we buy!

To your point, Blogs are a great way to do that and reach out, allowing an open forum and dialog. People, customers, they just want to be heard,

March 30, 2009 Tom Martin

Shannon

Great answer to an often asked question that so many of us in the marketing world deal with – how much of our “insight” to give away for free.

Agree with you that information or insights are like recipes. Someone else can bake it, but ours will almost always be better. Not to mention, you will become known as “the baker” which is ultimately the goal anyhow.
@TomMartin

April 1, 2009 Shannon Paul

Tom,
Yes! Being known as THE baker is the ultimate goal. That’s the prize for being a resource to communities of people instead of just a product.

March 30, 2009 Kåre Garnes

I love this!

I think this will make it a bit easier for CEOs to understand the true value of a company blog.

Brilliant example.

April 1, 2009 Shannon Paul

Kare,

Thank you. I was speaking with a few people over the last week about this subject and I used this metaphor… I could just see the light bulbs going off and thought I should share it here. We all need good examples and metaphors to be able to accurately communicate what needs to be done in order to be effective in this space.

So glad you found it helpful!

March 30, 2009 Elmer Boutin

Corporations often talk about being good “corporate citizens.” This is an excellent guide to becoming a good on line corporate citizen.

March 30, 2009 Jim @smashadv

I always say, the truth will filter itself out (in SM). True constituencies (ahem – friends) will stick around. Pretenders will move on. The trick is to always be true to the recipe. Yay for Granny.

March 30, 2009 Amber Naslund

You are one of those people, Shannon, that always reminds me what in the hell I do this for.

Thanks for being you.

March 30, 2009 Ari Herzog

If Shannon wasn’t she, who would she be?

April 1, 2009 Shannon Paul

Amber,
Wow! I’m glad. Thanks for seeing me.

March 30, 2009 Emily

What a wonderfully written post, dear Shannon.

April 1, 2009 Shannon Paul

What a wonderful surprise, dear Emily! Thanks for stopping by. You always make my day.

March 30, 2009 Jeremy Tanner

Well said. Though I still think, “My pound cake brings all the boys to the yard” Was a perfectly suitable title. ;)

Jeremy

April 1, 2009 Shannon Paul

Jeremy,
You crack me up! You’re probably right. :)

March 30, 2009 organizedhomeinc

Wow Shannon! That was so well spoken. Sharing knowledge and trust, gains respect, friends and clients.

March 31, 2009 wiryosaputra@...

Hi
nice blog and content.
I promise to visit your blog again. go on pal

April 1, 2009 Mason Power

Shannon, thanks for pointing me to this post from another blog where I’d commented about blog writers’ block from fear of giving away secrets.

Our business is 9 years old this summer and our website says little about what we do because the concern was letting out the secret and not “flying under the radar of competitors”.

The result is that we are not known in the market for our core value proposition, we’re known for our newsletter. We have confused our own clients and frankly the competitors have still come after us.

Ours has been a flawed strategy of hording the recipe. Good post.

Mason

April 2, 2009 Steve Gasser

Terrific insight. I am doing a presentation to a group of small business advisers today and your examples will really help them understand that they need to share their recipes.

April 2, 2009 Mariela Castro

Hi Shannon,

great post, I loved your “recipe” and the way you translated in such simplicity how can we improve the “us” side instead of thinking about “me” or how good “I” am… thanks for sharing!

Just to add something more to your list of business that give their recipes away: WEB CEO – free tool to help you improve your site using SEO. They also have a more sophisticated tool that you pay, but for the basics it´s for free!

Congrats again and I will keep reading you!
all my best
Mariela

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