The New Marketing Tool


As a retailer, there are so many hats to wear, it is often daunting to “do it all.” Between all issues that relate to the physical location, inventory, training and HR, there’s the promotion and marketing of the business that always needs to be addressed.

Marketing is not everyone’s favorite task, yet during one of my business training sessions with my local chamber of commerce, one of the guest speakers pointed out its importance.

“What is the most important thing any business needs to have at the get go?” was the question posed to all of us. We—many of us seasoned business retail owners—were all confident in our answers, from having a business plan, to having adequate funding, to hiring enthusiastic employees.

“Nope,” was her single reply. “It’s having a well-defined marketing plan.”

Marketing. If it’s so important, then why is it so hard? There is no one way or sure way to tackle it, which is why marketing becomes a frustration and challenge for so many retailers. Gone are the days of a strictly a choice between mediums—television ads, radio spots or print. Now with social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter—and even these are showing obsolesce—it’s a matter of how often and how clever we can post suggestions or contests for followers. To do social media marketing and manage the content effectively, it is a full-time position. It’s crushing and quite honestly, since everyone who wants to sell something is doing it, the public has become overwhelmed with it all and is tuning out.

In the natural products industry, one of retailers’ greatest strengths has been helping consumers learn about, try and use products for health and wellness. It’s the nature of our industry and has always been how we work with our customers. Helping people is what this industry does…and according to Justin Blaney, author of Famously Helpful, this is the “new” marketing tool.

In his book, Blaney writes “There is no better way to grow, no better way to cut through the clutter, no better way to reach your audience than to help them.” He further explains. “This is about becoming so known for your helpfulness that people flock to you for advice.”

He coins a term—helpeting—to describe this marketing method to build loyalty, trust and influence, which translates ultimately a business customer base.

Helpeting! Who knew? The natural product industry as a whole has engaged in this for decades. And now this is identified as the latest and most current marketing tool for success!

Blaney breaks down in detail how and why this marketing means is turning the traditional ideas of self-promotion and hype upside down. With easy-to-read examples and exercises and applications at the end of each chapter, he guides the reader through consistency, patience and the importance of being genuine with true helping gestures. He expounds on electronic social media with advice on how much and how to effectively touch your audience. There is a fine line between touching base or over-reaching your audience and he has great advice as to where that “sweet spot” might be

He suggests: “When the timing is right, the budget is set, the need becomes apparent, you’ll be the first person they think of.” And I agree. How many times do we have someone stop in months after meeting them, asking for help with an ache, pain or health challenge?

And I appreciate his conclusion at the end of the final chapter: “The world needs what you have to offer….Be a pioneer in helpfulness. Because someone who is famously helpful is never in want of customers, donors, jobs or friends—for all of the right reasons.”

Please find a copy of Famously Helpful by Justin Blaney on or contact the author at

Pat Sardell Country Vitamins
Pat Sardell

Pat Sardell is the owner of Country Vitamins in Corvallis, OR.

Published on WholeFoods Magazine Online, 8/23/16

NOTE: The opinions expressed in bylined articles are not necessarily those of the publisher.