Useful Moose

More businesses are starting to understand that they need to create great content to be remarkable in this world of information overload. I use a simple checklist to make sure my content is:

  • Useful
  • Genuine
  • Consumable.

As long as I make sure those 3 features are in place, there is a good chance that my content will earn the attention of the audience it was created for.

'To Earn' is the key verb here because it takes time and effort to build the kind of reputation that will make people put aside time to consume what you produce on an ongoing basis.

Let's focus on 'Useful'.

Unless you are solving someone's problem or satisfying a basic need, you don't really have much of a business proposition.

More specifically, if you can help improve the work of those who's business you seek, chances are that they will decide to work with you. It essentially comes down to the personal dimension in business because that is what companies are ultimately made of: people.

I don't know about you, but I have seen more people fail than I can remember because they approach business development from a 'rational' angle, without connecting on the human level.

This is all very obvious, but how do we actually zoom in on the needs of the individual?

Its actually quite simple, all you need to do is understand what a day in the life of your ideal customer looks like and then figure out where you can add value to make that person win at doing their job.

I cut my teeth in the investment industry. Investing is a very emotional activity, it is driven by fear and greed.

To manage other people's financial assets is a huge responsibility. That is why portfolio managers are so suspiciius all the time; they need to establish high levels of trust and confidence in their counterparts before they are willing to put their reputation on the line.

My investment management business, Silk Invest, is devoted to 'opening new routes for investors' by investing in the frontier markets. And because these markets are so exotic, we get a lot of push-back because these investment destinations usually lay far outside most people's comfort zones.

From a 'rational' perspective, the opportunities are obvious, most of the things that we take for granted in the developed world have only started to happen there. That is precisely why these economies have been growing so fast. And because they still have a long way to go, the long term the risk-return profile generally justifies putting a portion of your money to work there. But after more than a decade of appealing to investor's common sense, I have learned that people are hopelessly irrational by nature.

I have also understood that there is a reason for this. Every now and then there are moments when investors will mindlessly scramble to invest in the craziest things, dropping all prior inhibitions in the process simply because they see everybody else doing it as well.

This also explains why so many people buy markets at the top only to bail out at the bottom. In my industry we call this madness 'behavioural finance'.

We are social beings and we move in herds. It always boils down to the fact that people need the approval of those around them before they try something new.

If you understand that people want buy-in from those around them, helping people get that validation can in itself become a very useful purpose for your content.

Let's have a look at an example:

Problem: As in every sector, there is a value chain. In the world of asset management, I need to understand that my clients need the approval of both their colleagues and their clients before choosing us as their investment manager. My client may be as convinced as I am about the frontier markets but unless he or she can confidently convey the idea to the final decision makers, nothing will happen.

Solution: It occurred to me that I could offer a narrated version of the presentation I gave to potential clients so they could refer to it later, forward it to their colleagues and even share it with their clients or peers.

Seems too simple? Well sometimes the best solutions are not complicated at all. In the example, this little resource makes it easier for my prospects to do business with me because it gives them more courage to share the idea with others by 'outsourcing' the part about convincing to me.

It means that they can confidently suggest 'This is something we may want consider'. And because the content is so genuine and consumable, it can effortlessly be passed on to others. I just made it easier for my potential clients to do their job. They get to do something innovative without having to stick their neck out too far.

It is also works very well for me because my message lingers on in its original form. Even in this day and age, most of us still settle for leaving behind a handout after our presentations and hoping that what we said will be passed on. Needless to even mention how the odds stack up against this actually happening...

The point I am trying to make with this example is that even the simplest ideas, provided they serve a need, can become useful content. As long as you clearly understand the challenges your clients have as they get through the day and find a way to help them win in those moments, you will be producing the kind of value that brings business to you.

There's another example in the short video on how you can help your prospect prepare for his day.

Based on this same idea, another great solution could be to provide audio content that rounds up the key trends and topics that your clients need to stay informed about. Keep it consumable (15-30 mins) publish it as a podcast so people can start their day by listening to your brief on their commute to work. Your work will especially be appreciated by those who start their day with a morning meeting! Put a bit more perversely, you get a chance become the voice in their head during the morning... that is kind of powerful, don't you think?

It really gets interesting once you understand what 'useful' really means.

How can you help your clients make it through the day?

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