Last week I was having a conversation with a business colleague. She said to me that while she was signing clients for what they wanted, she was giving away her knowledge on what they needed for free. She felt used and that she had given away her best and most valuable information for free.
While it would be simple to say, “just don’t”. The reality is that many small business owners are so passionate about their work that they happily give away their best knowledge. The problem is that it doesn’t pay the bills and feel that their generosity has been taken advantage leaving them feeling used and worthless.
But what if there was a way to not feel used and to still feel generous with your business and actually have it benefit you? Would you want to know how?
There are five steps to the process of not feeling like you’re being used. When in place, not only can you continue your generous nature in your small business but you can actually make it your benefit and even a competitive advantage.
Who holds the knowledge & for what?
Many years ago, when I started live streaming, I was torn about sharing my knowledge, positioning myself as an expert, and giving away the best for free. Then a number of friends starting talking about a book called, Youtility. Eventually I got sick of all the raving and bought it. I made perfect sense.
Youtility, by Jay Baer, is an investigation on how generosity of knowledge in business makes good financial sense. The premise is that as the expert in the field, you will always know more than your clients in the area they come to you for help. When they run out of ability, the law of reciprocity kicks in and they will come to the person who has given them the most (information) to physically solve their problem.
Do you know how long it takes for your average contact to become a client? For my business, it’s 2 years. While I have people who work with me straight after our first contact, in the main they stick around and consume my content for 2 years before they buy from me.
Knowing how long it takes help me to gain perspective on how much information and how long it will be before I see an ROI on my investment.
Map your knowledge
Do you know where your knowledge sits in the client’s journey? Are they actually looking to solve the problem right now or are they trying to work out exactly what the problem is?
Knowing where a person is in their buyer journey is key to mapping your knowledge. We need different things as we go through life and that tends to follow a cycle of not knowing, knowing, searching, buying, reviewing. Business is no different.
What you need to do is understand and map your knowledge, and how you will happily share it, to your audience as they transition through these different stages. (At the moment, you know this is a problem and you are looking for a solution to feeling bad about showing generosity in your small business)
The other part of their map is how they move through your funnel and move from their hell to your heaven. They will also have their own buyer journey in this larger voyage through your sales funnel. Call it a constant upwards funnel, if you will.
Along the mapped funnel, you’re allowed to seed (sell). Plant the idea and leave a breadcrumb trail of tasty morsels to buy. Once they have bought once, they are likely to buy again. It is this seeding and selling, just the little things, that helps you to not feel that your knowledge is being taken for granted.
Make sure you shine. Reinforce to them why working with you is a great decision by sharing testimonials and reviews from other clients. You can also use case studies to help them on their journey and to show how you helped someone, perhaps just like them, to overcome their problem.
It can be daunting working with someone who is either a total unknown or who you never knew was knowledgeable in a certain area. To sell, straight up, in these circumstances can be off-putting. Imagine going to a butcher to buy sausages only for them to tell you that you needed a haircut and they could do that because they were a hairdresser too. Perhaps you didn’t realise you needed a haircut or perhaps you get a little offended because “what business is it of their’s”.
By following this process, the same one I discussed with my colleague, you will have a better understanding of how generosity is actually a business benefit and how you can use it to be more profitable, and strategic, with your knowledge in your small business.
I’d love to know how you feel about being generous in giving out your knowledge. Let me know in a comment below.