Selling Your Product By Selling Someone Else’s

by Jason Falls |

For years now you’ve heard advice from social media evangelists that is counter-intuitive to a traditional marketing approach. Don’t sell first. Relinquish control of your brand to your customers. Take your content to the customers instead of driving all activity to your own website. Build content around your customers, not your brand.

On Monday, we looked at an example of a business that relinquished control to empower their audience of enthusiasts. Today, we’ll look at an example of a business building content around their consumer’s need, not the company’s profits.

Nationwide Insurance unveiled a new iPhone application called Cartopia that helps anyone (not just Nationwide customers) find your perfect car. It factors in information like cost, cost to insure, cost to maintain, vehicle history report, safety rating and more. It allows you to store lists of vehicles you’re considering, lets you rate each based on the information the app collects and more. You can store pictures of your test drives, check fair pricing from third party resources, gather car-specific safety information, compare to other models and more. You can even estimate your monthly payments and the total cost of ownership, factoring in depreciation and …

It almost gives me a headache writing it all down. Here’s a video highlighting its features.

The beauty of this application is that it is being provided by Nationwide to help its customer or potential customers fulfill a need: Helping them buy a car in a more informed, yet easier fashion.

But it’s not selling insurance.

According to Shawn Morton, (Disclosure: a friend and former board member at Social Media Club Louisville of which I’m president and co-founder), Nationwide’s Director of Social Media, “We’ve also included a loan calculator (and the option to see loan rates from Nationwide Bank) and the ability to get an insurance quote from Nationwide. We’ve tried to make those plugs be a secondary call-to-action so that the app is useful to car shoppers, not just a commercial for Nationwide.”

What Nationwide Insurance has done with Cartopia is identified a need in its target audience (people who need car insurance). They’ve filled that need with a helpful application which allows them to become a trusted friend or advisor. Selling insurance isn’t an afterthought. But it is “secondary” to providing the audience with the value.

Normally here, I would end the post with some pithy quote complimenting Nationwide or my friend Shawn. Instead, I’d like to challenge each of you to think of one way your company could provide value to its customers with selling your product or service as a secondary objective. Tell us your idea in the comments.

Perhaps we can inspire each other.

To the comments? Thank you!

About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).