Tuesday 2¢: Come Not to be Served But to Serve

If you read my Rockstar CMO newsletter, then you’ll notice I am returning to this topic of service, I’ve given it a bit more thought, and like all the cools kids, refer to ChatGPT.

At the beginning of the coronation of our new King Charles, a royal chapel chorister welcomed the new king in the high language of the church and basically asked what the king was doing there. The king replied:

“I come not to be served but to serve”

I then went for a walk and listened to one of my favorite podcasts – The Marketing Book Podcast – where Douglas Burdett was chatting with Joe Pulizzi about the new edition of his book, Epic Content Marketing. They talked about the foundations of content marketing, which include understanding your audience’s needs, being useful and generous, and avoiding constant self-promotion.

Basically, come not to be served but to serve.

Serving our audience is not a new concept, of course, it was at the core of Jay Bear’s 2013 book Youtility, with the subtitle of “Why Smart Marketing is About Help Not Hype” and as I pluck my copy from my bookshelf, to grab a quote to support this blog post, I don’t even need to open it as on the back cover it says:

The difference between helping and selling is just two letters

If you’re wondering how to make your products seem more exciting online, you’re asking the wrong question. You’re not competing for attention only against other similar products. You’re competing against your customers’ friends and family and viral videos and cute puppies. To win attention these days, you must ask a different question: “How can we help?”

Jay Bear – Youtility – 2013

Yep, come not to be served but to serve.

My concern about writing about this is that we are obsessed with youth when it comes to content and marketing ideas, and this idea has been floating around for over a decade, in Get Content, Get Customers, published in 2009 Joe Pulizzi wrote:

[marketers are seeing] ..they can deliver tangible benefits to prospects and customers by offering relevant content that helps produce solutions to some of the toughest problems their prospective buyers are facing”

Joe Pulizzi – Get Content, Get Customers – 2009

And, we marketers can’t be trusted with nice things and have probably overused the phrases “serving our audience”, “providing value” and “empathy” to the point that they are losing meaning. Still, I feel it’s relevant to think about this – and write about it – as how many of us marketers are actually putting them into practice?

How many marketers have service as a goal?

It’s easy to run around the marketing hamster wheel, trying to sell products and services, but serving our audience should be the real goal. After all, the whole point of marketing is to help buyers solve their problems, find products or services that meet their needs, and build sufficient trust that they choose us. And, the conduit for this is content. 

Especially in the world of gray B2B identikit content, which is basically begging to be created by artificial content creators. Never mind stealing their jobs, it feels like B2B copywriters would like ChatGPT to put them out of their misery. AND YET, study after study finds that buyers consume way more content on the path to clicking on “contact us”, let alone making a purchase.  

Come not to be served but to serve.

And of course, the robots will be very keen to serve, but will they have empathy for the pain caused by the problem the reader wants to solve? Will they be considering what might be next for that professional once they have solved this problem? Or be able to share thought leadership (another valuable term that seems to be losing meaning)?

We marketers have access to resources, research, writers and designers, we choose to invest this creative intellect in sharing the ten benefits the users of our product get, but there is a fabulous opportunity to flip this and apply this investment to something useful, sharing ten ways a real person (not “user”) with this problem could solve it and how others have too. 

I am probably contractually obligated as a card-carrying marketer to then quote Steve Jobs, especially while I am on a tour of marketing quotes of yore. 

Your customers don’t care about you. They don’t care about your product or service. They care about themselves, their dreams, their goals. Now, they will care much more if you help them reach their goals, and to do that, you must understand their goals, as well as their needs and deepest desires.

Steve Jobs

I include it as you often see the first part of the quote used, as a warning but not so much the payback:

“They will care much more if you help them reach their goals”

Sounds like service to me. 

That’s my 2¢ for this week, I hope you found it helpful; it’s a pleasure to serve.

This is not my first visit to the topic of usefulness, and you might also like my previous Tuesday 2¢: Be Useful!

Apologies if you read my similar rant in my Rockstar CMO newsletter, but I’m applying the other tenant of content marketing, repurposing ideas! Plus, I think I have a different audience there. Maybe consider subscribing in the box below if I promise not to repeat myself and will do my best to serve. 🙂

The image used in this blog post was created using A.I. through NightCafe Creator

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