Dave Ramsey is fond of saying with respect to realtors, financial advisors, and anyone else you hire, that they should have “the heart of a teacher.” But is having the heart of a teacher good business strategy? It takes more time. It takes more effort. It requires caring. But if these are things most people don’t do and won’t do, then that’s the very definition of a strategic opportunity, isn’t it? Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and he’ll hire you to keep fishing for him.
Case in point the online marketing resource website Moz. Once an SEO firm named SEOmoz, Moz focused heavily on education. Why did they do this? Perhaps it wasn’t strategic for them, perhaps they just liked sharing. But if it wasn’t strategic, it certainly helped their business grow. SEOmoz became one of the top SEO firms in the world, and ended up raising venture capital to transition to becoming a resource website with many tools built for online marketing professionals.
Why does having the heart of a teacher work? By way of example, Moz created this Beginner’s Guide To SEO. Someone who reads this guide can become an SEO expert almost overnight. I know so-called SEO professionals who don’t know what’s in this beginner’s guide and do things directly contrary to it, hurting their clients rather than helping them. Why would Moz give away the knowledge they gained, and allow their clients to do for free what they might have paid Moz $20,000 per month to do? Easy:
- Free content of value gets traffic. “You mean I can learn how to do SEO myself, for free? Yeah, let’s check this beginner’s guide out.” People gravitate to free content, especially if it provides real value, as this beginner’s guide does. Free content attracts traffic. Here I am linking to it, and this isn’t the first time.
- The content establishes you as an expert. If you create free content that provides real value, and everyone starts referring to it, who looks like the expert? That’s right, you do. Who gets more business, experts or amateurs? Who gets paid more, experts or amateurs? That’s right.
- Some people will go in-house, some people will outsource. Sure, when you teach people how to do something, sometimes they’ll do it themselves. But if you’re worried about this stop it. I know how to change the oil on my car. I know how to mow a lawn. I know how to wash a car. I know how to do a lot of things, and yet I hire other people to do these things, either because I don’t like doing them, I recognize someone else can do it better, or I simply lack the time. Often it’s all of the above. Even if 9 out of 10 people use what you’ve taught them to do and go off and do it themselves, if you’re drawing in 100x the traffic you’re still doing 10x better than you were before.
- Those who go in-house will often regret it and come back. I hire people to change the oil in my car, mow my lawn, and wash my car precisely because I’ve done it before. It’s only after doing it that I realized I should pay someone else. If you teach someone how to do something, and they realize they don’t want to do it, who are they going to hire to do it? In contrast, what if they just hire you to do it? Then, when they get doubts about whether it’s working or not, they’ll go to your competitor. But if they’ve done it themselves, they’re going to understand that much better what you are doing for them, their expectations will be more in line with reality, and you’re going to have a better experience working together.
We’re redesigning the MWI website right now, and we’re going to put an emphasis on valuable content in the form of infographics, video, and the written word. Yes, we’re going to give away the farm, but we expect to get back much more than what we give up.
Have you ever focused on teaching people to fish so that you could sell more fish? What was your experience?
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