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78: Josh Cobb: How Three Different Companies Dominate With Helpful Marketing

By |May 10, 2016| No Comments


Is your marketing so useful that people would actually pay for it? Are you adding value outside of the products and services you sell?

In this episode of Real Estate Pros, we look at three very different companies who dominate their competitors with highly relevant and inherently helpful marketing.


In 1889 two brothers, Ándre and Édouard, started a tyre company in France. Back then, there were only about 2200 cars in France as the government had yet to establish an extensive road system, and gasoline had to be purchased at select pharmacies.

Ándre and Édouard were determined to turn vehicles from a novelty that took drivers to a Sunday picnic into a viable mode of transportation over long distances. They decided to create a series of guide books that catalogued hotels, mechanics and gasoline vendors throughout France.

They even went as far as to put up home-made road signs to assist travellers. As their tyre company grew, so did their guide. They launched country-specific editions throughout Europe that became popular enough to compel the brothers to start charging for the booklets in 1920.

By the late 1920’s, fine-dining had become popular so Ándre and Édouard’s set up a team of inspectors who would anonymously visit restaurants and rate them on a 3-category basis. In 1926, Ándre and Édouard’s guide expanded to the industry that would eventually make them famous – fine dining. Five years later, a three-star system was introduced.

How Three Different Companies Dominate With Helpful Marketing.You see, Ándre and Édouard’s last name is Michelin. As in Michelin Tyres. And yes, they are the founders of arguably the most prestigious and coveted restaurant award anywhere in the world – the Michelin Star rating system.

Today, Michelin Stars are awarded sparingly to a small number of restaurants of outstanding quality. Being crowned with 3 Michelin Stars is also now closely linked with the chefs of those establishments, which is why you sometimes hear a chef being referred to as a “Michelin Star Chef”.

Now 127 years old, Michelin tyres is the world’s largest tyre manufacturer, overtaking Bridgestone in 2008, they have more than 120,000 employees with an estimated profit of $1.5 billion per annum. Not bad huh?

Although the Michelin brothers sold tyres at the end of the day, they looked for ways to add value to their consumers outside of the products and services they sold. Their goal was to build an audience of people who loved their content so much, that their products would sell themselves.

Michelin’s approach to marketing has been followed by many since. Companies such as Red Bull – which you’ve probably heard me speak about before. Red Bull sell a can of energy drink at the end of the day but Red Bull Media House – the part of their company that produces all of those amazing extreme sports videos – is rumoured to be within only 12-24 months of overtaking revenue from their energy drinks. These are just two examples – almost a century apart – of companies who built an audience around content that was helpful and entertaining, and trusted that their audience would buy their products and services – eventually.


No one gave Michelin the permission to start a restaurant rating system. No one gave Red Bull the permission to publish the most watched extreme sports videos anywhere in the world. These companies are successful not because of their products and services. These companies are successful because they offer value outside of the products and services they sell. Let me say that again – these companies are successful not because of their products and services. These companies are successful because they add value outside of the products and services they sell.

So you’re probably thinking what on earth has this story got to do with me as a real estate professional?”

Like Michelin and Red Bull, no one is telling you that you can’t create amazing content for your audience. We should be thankful that we live in a time where you no longer have to advertise on TV or radio. You can become your own TV or radio station by publishing entertaining or educational content to the web.

But you don’t necessarily have to use the internet to build an audience. Take Brad Bell Real Estate in the southern suburbs of Brisbane, Australia, for example – an office of five salespeople, five property managers plus admin staff. Sarah Bell, director of the company, was constantly being asked by locals visiting their office where is a good place to get a coffee around here. Sarah thought to herself: “If only I had a dollar for every time someone asked me that question.” Then she realised: “What IF I had a dollar for every time someone asked me that question?”

It was then that Sarah gave up her own office to establish what is today a popular local coffee shop, built into the side of their agency.
Named after the postcode in which their office is located, The Hub 4122 is popular among locals on their way into the city in the morning or those visiting the shopping centre nearby. The espresso bar also has a Facebook community devoted to local events and community engagement.

By building a community around something local people love, good coffee, Brad Bell Real Estate has created value for its community outside of its services and like Michelin or Red Bull, the company is talked about, discussed and revered by locals to be more than just another real estate company.

Anyone that knows me has heard me recommend a book called Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help, Not Hype, by Jay Baer. While the subtitle of the book sums up the message of this episode of Real Estate Pros, it’s how Jay describes the purpose of Youtility, which is something I just love. Jay says that Youtility is:

Marketing so useful, people would pay for it.

An advertisement saying we’re the best, let us sell you something is far less effective today than saying we built this super helpful thing come check it out.

Is your marketing so useful that people would pay for it? How are you adding value outside of the products and services you sell? I’ll say it just one more time, how are you adding value outside of the products and services you sell?

Michelin, Red Bull and Brad Bell Real Estate are examples of companies that didn’t look at their competitors and think how they could be better.

They looked at their consumers and asked how could they help.

My hope for the local communities in which you serve is that you’ll do the same. They and you will be better for it.

Good luck.

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