When was the last time you asked someone, “How can I help?” without your own agenda?

Roger Phelps, corporate communications manager at STIHL Inc., says the book “Youtility” by Jay Baer made him reevaluate that exact question.

“So often as companies, and maybe even as people, our conversations are about what we want and not about what the other person needs,” Phelps says.

In the book, Baer says the first words out of our mouth in any relationship, whether it’s a personal one or a marketing one, should be “How can I help?”

Phelps says the section about ‘friend-marketing’ really highlights the impact of the book.

Youtility

SOURCE: Youtility

“In today’s connected world, companies are really competing for the attention of people, not really other companies. People need to consider you, a company, as a friend,” Phelps says.

Think about it, who do people want as a friend? People who are authentic, trustworthy and people who are there to help them.

“This book reminded me that we really need to focus on that, to approach every one of our interactions with our customers and our public the same way,” Phelps says. “So I like to ask people: ‘When was the last time you came up with a program or information or something that was helpful to your customer with absolutely no expectation of immediate return?’”

Word of mouth is one way companies can generate attention from people. New technology has made it both easier and, at times, overwhelming to get in contact with people quickly. “Word of mouth isn’t a new concept. Social media and the online world is word of mouth on steroids,” Phelps says.

Roger Phelps

Roger Phelps, STIHL

Phelps says STIHL is continuously trying to implement “friend-marketing.” “We’re making sure that as a company we know exactly who we are and what we stand for, but most importantly why do we do it. From our very beginning it’s been to help people,” he says.

STIHL has been working on a company blog that not only talks about STIHL products and how to use them, Phelps says, but also features other tips customers will find useful, creating a space where people can look to STIHL as a trusted partner.

“It’s got to be real; if you look at it as just some sort of marketing ploy, you’ll never be able to pull it off,” Phelps explains about becoming a customer’s trusted partner.

Phelps admits he loves reading. “The trick is to avoid the thought: ‘You’re only as good as the last article you’ve read,’” he says. “There are books that have really changed the way I approach my job and, frankly, my life, which I think is the true measure of whether a book’s message impacted you or not.”

“How can we pass on what we’ve learned?” Phelps asks. By sharing great business or landscaping books, of course. Share your suggestions in the comments below.