"When helping others becomes the framework through which you interact with the world, you’ll find yourself at the top of many minds."
The world of marketing has changed considerably from the 20th century to now. Not too long ago, marketing was heavily focused on product ads and the ability of charismatic sales professionals to push their company’s product or service to an audience that relied heavily on the information the company promoted.
Today, with easy access to the internet, people who are in search of products or services have a vast array of information sources where they can research to their heart’s content. They can easily find product information and reviews from actual users. To win with educated consumers in today’s highly competitive markets, you want to stand out by becoming a trusted resource who is always “top of mind” for the people in your market.
Top of Mind: Use Content to Unleash Your Influence and Engage Those Who Matter to You is a guide for creating authentic relationships with the people in your audience. This gives you the opportunity to consistently provide helpful ideas and information to them, to position your company in the top of their mind for the solutions you can provide.
It’s also the story of author John Hall’s own personal journey from teenage door-to-door popcorn sales and “selling” people on products, to his current position as CEO of Influence & Co. where his focus is on creating strong relationships through his message “how can I help you?”
Focus on relationships and being helpful to others
"If you can tangibly improve your target audience’s quality of life, even in ways that seem minute, they’ll begin to think of you as a positive force in their lives. Do this consistently and your audience will reward you with top-of-mind status."
How do we improve the lives of the people who make up our audience? By listening to them. We must listen carefully and never stop listening. What are they thinking? What are their problems? What issues are important to them?
We can use various tools, like surveys and social media, to hear what our market needs. The information we learn from our “listening” exercises can be used as the basis for content we create to address the questions and issues our market has.
Several years ago, Hall’s company Influence & Co. hired Matt Kamp, a recent college graduate, as their “director of helpfulness”. His only responsibility was to offer help to the people in their network by sharing information and resources they could use. The ongoing result of this outreach has been a tremendous increase in top of mind opportunities for their company and an army of people who are loyal advocates for them.
Share your knowledge, experiences and resources with your audience
"When you educate people, you are empowering them. … Content’s potential as an educational tool is limitless. Use it to share whatever knowledge you have that others will find valuable"
Staying in touch with the needs of your audience and sharing information they can use is one of the best ways to give to and help them. While there are many ways to help others in a one-to-one capacity, the most scalable way is through creating and publishing content. You can exponentially expand the number of ways you can help people and the number of lives you can effect through content.
Sharing your own knowledge and stories with others is an excellent way to be helpful. In Hall’s own words “there just might be a nugget of information in my stories that helps someone or resonates so strongly with people that they go on to bring their own revolutionary ideas to life.”
Create a writing ritual
"‘The Artist’s Way’ is Julia Cameron’s classic guide to channeling your creative potential. In the book, Cameron explains that inspiration is fickle; if you wait for it to strike, you’ll create very little in life. Instead, it’s exponentially more productive to build creative rituals into your daily routine (such as writing my ‘morning pages,’ three pages of stream of consciousness every morning). Daily practice nourishes your inner artist and boosts your creative output."
Hall recommends and practices Cameron’s “morning pages”. Rather than waiting for inspiration to strike, it’s easier and more helpful to adhere to a habit of daily writing. Writing every morning encourages and allows for more creativity and it will also help to dispel the fear of writing.
Creating written content is a daunting task for many of us, from the solopreneur to the CEO. Lack of time and inspiration keeps us procrastinating and pushing this critical activity further down our to do lists.
Fear of being a bad writer also sabotages our efforts. When Hall became more and more anxious about writing, he decided to be as authentic as possible with his audience and he wrote an article called Being a Bad Writer Isn’t an Excuse for Not Creating Content. He shared his fear of writing and his own method of working on content with his network. His article was well received and helpful to many others. From this experience, he realized his fears were quite common and, by sharing, he helped others find solutions for the same problem.
Top of Mind is an easy to read guide for anyone responsible for growing a business. The heart of the book (and, I think, of the author) is helping others. The most scalable way to help the most people is by creating content. John Hall shares his actionable ideas on how to create the content and the systems one can use to do so.
Since I’m planning to launch a business and website soon, I found the book very informative. Writing for an online audience is a bit scary, so I plan to follow Hall’s advice and practice writing “morning pages”. Hopefully, it will lessen my fear and help me be more creative.
Do you find it challenging to create helpful content for your own audience? Would it help if you tried “stream of consciousness” writing every morning? Even 5 minutes of daily writing might make a big difference!