At the Heart of It, Client Relationships Are About Help Not Hype

By Barry Lohman

Good Client Relationships Are About Help Not Hype


Jay Baer’s book title grabbed my attention: Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help Not Hype.

Help Not Hype

These simple words give name to a principle that precisely aligns with my personal core values that guide me to be of service to others and practice the principle of attraction, rather than promotion. For the last 17 years I have exercised these principals, primarily within a 12 step program of recovery but core values gradually influence the motivations and intent that drive all actions.

Not surprisingly, this principle also aligns with the mission, culture and business practices of NeigerDesign. From the beginning in 1989 when other design firms were focusing primarily on the visual aesthetic, Carol Neiger built her company on the core belief that “results count.” This meant powerful visuals supported resonating messages within an integrated marketing strategy built on research. This became the foundation for helping clients achieve success by meeting and often exceeding their marketing and organizational goals. Accordingly, the internal culture of NeigerDesign promotes an atmosphere of teamwork and cooperation based on supporting each other in serving client needs and helping each team member incorporate their personal passions into their work here (one great example is Studio//Shift).

It is no coincidence, then, that the majority of our clients’ missions and core business activities are grounded in helping. It is easy to see how that applies to our many healthcare-related clients, but it is also central to other organizations as well. Credentialing and educational clients help organizations and schools improve the lives of everyday end users. Executive search helps leaders connect leaders for the betterment of the client organizations and the executives they place. There is opportunity for almost every type of organization to find a pathway to transition the marketing focus from hype to help.

What's the Difference?

Hype is:

Razzle dazzle. Hot. Viral. It requires an enormous amount of energy and resources, always looking for new ways to say, “We are great!”

Help is:

Useful. Memorable. Long-lasting. Building long-term loyalties that are established by being helpful first, while telling stories of how real people are being helped by your organization. Being helpful increases value, memorability and loyalty by providing useful tools and insights to current and potential clients. All of this lets them know that you understand their unique challenges and are committed to helping them achieve their goals within their own organizations, and to help them help their clients.

This chain of helping is at the heart of the new reality of business marketing. Beyond Business-to-Business. Beyond Business-to-Consumer. Beyond Business-to-Business-to-Consumer. The new model is: Business-to-Human.

Storytelling is key. Stories are not telling how awesome something is. That is hype. A good story tells how and why something is helpful to a real person in real circumstances. An effective story has heart.

If your marketing style has been “hype,” however low-key, it will take strategic effort to transition to “help.” It will require a re-evaluation of your core principles and a refinement of your business model. It will require commitment and investment but there are some simple ways you can activate the evolution.

Getting Started

This is HYPE:

  • Continue to try differentiating yourself from the competition with content that focuses on features and benefits
  • Relying heavily on promotional programs and events to generate interest and loyalty.
  • Using social media as an extension of a self-serving marketing strategy.

This is HELPING:

  • Establish your organization as the experts by offering insights into industry trends and regulations, with content that doesn’t recommend any particular product or service.
  • Provide free tools that help potential client organizations to jump-start a game-changing initiative.
  • Tell emotional stories of how your company, product or service made a big difference in the quality of life for an end user.

Helping is more than a superficial re-skinning of your marketing message, it is a fundamental core value that impacts every external and internal relationship. It is not what you do, it is who you are.



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