I was watching a presentation about “Marketing by Sharing” the other day which is a couple of years old, but never more relevant. It explains how, given a wide choice of purchases, we opt for the suppliers who have taught us something. The respect we have for those people means they don’t even have to be the best-known names in the business (a recognition level which costs a lot of money). However, most companies are scared to put what they know out in the open, because of an unfounded fear that they might be handing some sort of advantage to their competitors. Seriously? It doesn’t have to be this way.
When I was editor of Industrial Technology magazine in the 1990s, we were approached by a small industrial instrumentation supplier called Control Transducers and offered a regular “question and answer” page written by one of their technical specialists, Morten Moller. It was a well-thought-out approach, and we were happy to accept. The resulting column ran for many years, even when Morten moved on to head up his own company. In reader surveys, “Ask Morten” consistently proved to be one of the most popular features in the magazine, and when it went on the web, the pages were some of the most viewed on the site. Morten will be the first to tell you that he – and the companies he’s worked at – have built much of their business off the back of this: business which advertising can’t buy. Customers phone up and demand to speak to Morten as if he’s the only person in the world who can sort out their requirement – and of course they buy what he recommends. In this market, the cost/benefit ratio of the question and answer page has made every other form of publicity look like a complete waste of money.
And what information was Morten handing to his competitors? Nothing you couldn’t find in a textbook or learn on an engineering course. If I remember rightly, the most popular page on the whole Industrial Technology website was Morten’s “introduction to IP ratings”. It’s information which is available all over the place, but it all helped build him up as an authority in his field – and a supplier who people could trust.
Morten Moller’s latest venture is Control Integration Ltd.