Why information sharing beats a hard sell

When you pick up the newspaper, do you turn straight to the ads? When you’re watching TV do you sit through the commercial breaks? I’d guess that the answer is overwhelmingly ‘no’.

We read the newspaper for the articles, the features, the information. We watch television and movies for entertainment and news. The ads are often background noise, something to be endured, and where possible, skipped.

No-one likes a hard sell

There’s a lesson here – no-one likes a hard sell, but we value information. So, if we want our message to be heard, we need to provide genuinely useful information to our audience. If we can inform, teach, share opinions and thought leadership, we are much more likely to engage with our audience and be heard.

What to share? How will I inform? What do I know that is of value?

We often underestimate the value of our own IP and knowledge, but in fact you will almost certainly have information that is of genuine value to your target audience. It may be knowledge that you take for granted – you understand a topic so well that it can sometimes be hard to realise that others don’t have the same understanding as you. The thing about ‘common knowledge’ is that it might not be as common as you think. If you’re in the business of selling printers, for example, you might assume that everyone understands the different print technologies and which are best for which situation.

Don’t assume everyone knows what you know

I worked with a client who designs and builds kiosks, and took for granted the fact that there are different technologies for touch screens. They had assumed that people looking for kiosks would know this (and maybe some of them did), but on the basis that most probably don’t have this level of understanding, we wrote an information article for their website and social media about the different touch screen technologies and their pros and cons.

It may well be that your audience doesn’t know what they don’t know, or they feel awkward at admitting they don’t know it. Think of all those conferences and education courses where the speaker asks ‘Who doesn’t know what I mean by the different types of touch screen technology?’ It is a brave person who raises their hand in response to that! By sharing your information, you may be not only sparing their blushes but helping them to realise just how much information there is to be understood about a topic. You, as the person who has de-mystified the subject for them, establish yourself in a leadership position.

Be a curator

The information doesn’t all have to come directly from you – you can add value by sharing useful content from others, acting as a curator, gathering information that you believe your prospective customers will find interesting. The key is to enhance that information with your comments, insights or opinions, so that you are still establishing yourself as a subject matter expert.

Information = credibility = sale

Sharing useful information, rather than going for the ‘hard sell’ builds tremendous credibility. Everyone wants to deal with people who know what they’re talking about. If you share your insights and knowledge, you become the expert (‘expert’ quite often simply meaning someone who knows more about a topic the audience).

So, to be heard, and ultimately win more sales, share what you know.