If You Can’t Be The Source, Be The Resource

The following is a guest post from Andrew Hanelly.  Andrew creates and executes digital strategies for clients at TMG Custom Media.  You can follow him on Twitter and check out his posts on Engage the Blog.

People used to come into my sandwich shop craving pizza. I could see it in their eyes. They wanted melted mozzarella on a bed of tomato sauce with black olives, pepperoni and maybe just a touch of roasted red pepper.

They wouldn’t be satisfied with a sandwich – not this time anyway. Their craving knew one master, and it came in the shape of a circle.

I had two options: I could point them to the best pizza joint in town or I could try to force a sandwich down their throat, literally (we didn’t have pizza, hell we didn’t even have mozzarella cheese).

Standing at this fork in the road I had a decision to make, just like brands today have a decision to make when they’re considering the idea of curating content as part of their content development strategy.

“But, we’ll be sending them to someone else’s stuff!”

“But, what if they never come back?”

“But, that’s sort of like promoting XYZ and we only promote ABC!”

“But, what if they blame us for what they find when they get there?”

True, you run those risks. But at the end of the day you’ve got a decision to make: do you want to try to be the only source, or should you try to be the resource? Here’s why you should consider the latter:

1. There’s an outside world, acknowledge it.

Your customers are polygamists when it comes to their brand relationships. They eat Raisin Bran, have Yoplait yogurt, brush their teeth with Crest, drink Starbucks coffee, drive a Toyota, listen to Sirius radio – and that’s all before they get to work in the morning.

The fact of the matter is that your prospective and current customers are going to flirt with other people and brands. They are going to read other blogs besides your company blog. They are going to follow your competitors on Twitter, they are going to Like pages on Facebook that make you cringe. Deal with it. You can either ignore that those other entities exist, or you can highlight when those other entities do something well. Here’s a hint: Your customers are going to find out either way, wouldn’t you rather have them give credit to you for pointing it out?

2. Confidence is attractive.

We’ve all had (or know someone who has had) the jealous significant other. This is the person who glares at you for accidentally looking at a member of the opposite sex at a restaurant when you’re just scanning the terrain to find the bathroom. This is the person who gives you the cold shoulder when you hold the door open for a member of the opposite sex as you enter a building. This is the person who gets upset when you mention that Michelle Pfeiffer is a hotter Catwoman than Anne Hathaway ever could be. This is the person you eventually dump.

If your brand can muster the courage to point your prospective and current customers in the direction of other brands, they’ll take note that you weren’t scared or jealous. Subconsciously, they know you have enough confidence in your own stuff that you don’t mind letting them flirt with someone else’s. And they’ll be back, because they know you always:

3. Give them the best stuff, and they’ll know you’re the resource for all the best stuff.

Whether it’s your product they are devouring or the stuff from the pizza joint down the street, they’ll give you credit for being the one that hooked them up with it. And when they are in the mood for what you have to offer, they’ll remember that you are the purveyor of good things. You’re aware of the other offerings but you’re confident in your own. You’re not just the source of one thing, you’re the resource of many things.

And by the way, the line at the pizza joint I recommended was pretty long. Guess who came back and had a sandwich?

image credit: Stephen Mcsweeny from Shutterstock