When you’re a small company, some of the tactics you can pursue to grow your business include buying ads, hiring salespeople, and sponsoring events.
But as Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson point out in their book Rework
, when your competitors are doing exactly the same things, how does that make you stand out?
Instead of trying to outspend, outsell, or out-sponsor your competitors, they recommend that you try to out-teach them, for two reasons:
- First, most businesses are focused on selling or servicing and teaching never occurs to them, so your competitors probably aren’t even considering this as an option.
- Second, big companies, who have more to lose because they face greater legal and financial risks, are “obsessed with secrecy.”
Fried and Heinemeier Hansson argue that teaching can also help you develop a deeper connection with your customers. They’ll trust and respect you more: “Even if they don’t use your product, they can still be your fans.”
They cite two companies that do an especially good job of teaching their customers:
Etsy, the online store for handmade goods, holds entrepreneurial workshops and circulates ideas about how its customers can best promote their own products on the site.
- Hoefler & Co., a company that designs typefaces, teaches designers about how to use different types at www.typography.com.