The Season of Giving: Content Strategy
The holidays are a time of giving. Thusly, it is also a good time to remember that in digital marketing, you have to give something to get something.
I’ve worked with quite a few clients who want something for nothing. They want people to sign up for email lists, buy products or join an organization without giving them any reason to do so.
The misgivings typically come from the “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” school of thinking. They worry that by giving information or insight away via online content, customers will take it and not give them anything in return.
This is a flawed way of thinking. Take the example of the person passing out samples in the grocery store. Sure, some people do take the sample and then walk away for good. Others will buy the product right there. And a third group will remember your sample when they are shopping again and come back to your product.
The same principal applies to content marketing. When you share information, you are building brand recognition and putting your brand on the customer’s “top of mind” when they are ready to make a purchase.
Free samples help a brand stand out among thousands of options in the supermarket. Similarly, serving as a source of useful information can put your brand in the “top of mind.”
Companies Who Gain By Giving Content Away
Many brands have already started to see the value in this type of marketing. Content marketing company NewsCred is creating it’s own newsroom to produce content for clients.
Some good examples include:
Home remodeling icon Bob Vila has become a modern fountain of information. His online videos on YouTube and his website offer countless tips for home improvement. The clever angle here is that Vila also runs an online store and service portal with featured sponsors.
Many customers may not need to purchase a product or service when they visit Vila’s site. However, the site is establishing itself as a source of trusted information. When the time comes that they do need help with a project, Bob’s store is at the top of mind.
Men’s Health succeeds in a couple of ways. First off, they allow all of the content on their website to be accessed by non-subscribers. If you want your content to be shared, DO NOT put it behind a paywall.
Secondly, they offer the opportunity for you to sign up for “the best fitness, health, sex, and nutrition tips delivered to your inbox daily.” They offer free information and if you like it, you have the opportunity to sign up to get more. Now that you are in their mailing list, you are much closer to the company, and will continue receiving communications from them, ensuring that they stay “top of mind.” That will pay off when you are looking for a site to visit for health tips (ad sales), or thinking about subscribing to a fitness magazine.
Don’t Confuse Content with Capital
The content is not the prize, per se. The content is the carrot that brings customers into your sphere of influence. That is the real prize: someone following you on social media or signing up for your newsletter.
Think of this as putting money in an interest-bearing account. You may not have a quick sale, but you have an opportunity to build a relationship with customers, which will lead to many sales down the road.
When you make content, remember that you are making it so you can give it away. You want it to be seen and shared by as many people as possible. Now start giving!