Table of Contents
Often when I talk to new business owners about their social media strategy, or with experienced business owners who are new to social media marketing, I suggest they start a blog, write an ebook, create a list of tips, or develop a free giveaway for customers. Sometimes the business owner will look at me skeptically as if to ask “Are you nuts?”
There is a belief out there that giving information away for free will result in lost business. The idea being that if you explain everything on a blog, or in an ebook, for free, nobody will need to buy your services. But that’s just wrong! As Jay Baer famously said “Too much content will not give away your secrets. A list of ingredients doesn’t make someone a chef.”
Of course there will always be people that read something and never buy from you. They may even come back and read more of your content and still not buy from you. They were not your ideal client, but you might be their ideal expert!
Free Information is a Good Marketing Tool
Information is everywhere. Nobody pays for information these days, they just Google it! Pretty much everything you need to know about any aspect of your business or personal life can be sourced on the internet and most of it is freely available (sometimes in multiple places.) So if you’re not telling your potential customers what’s what, they’re going to Google it and look elsewhere.
For instance, in researching this blog I wanted to reference a specific “trust expert”. I thought I would go to her blog, find the perfect blog article or resource and be able to include her in this post. I didn’t. Her blog was sparse and I didn’t find what I was looking for. So I tried another trust expert. Even worse, no blog at all! No useful information I could quote or link to about how blogging useful information builds trust among your potential customers. So I Googled it.
Are these two people really trust “experts”? Their websites say so, but there’s no proof. There’s nothing (or very little on the one blog) to show me they know about building trust. If you were to come to the Twirp Communications website and there was no information about how to use social media, would you truly feel comfortable in hiring me to consult? Or to manage your social media for you? If you’re looking for a graphic designer and you don’t find samples of their work, do you still hire them?
Benefits of Marketing via Free Information
Good quality, useful information has many benefits.
- It backs up your claim as an “expert”. There is something to show.
- People get a good feel for how you think and work. This weeds out the people who might not be a good fit for you before they waste your time.
- Giving useful information via your blog may actually save you time! If people can find the answer they’re looking for on your blog, they will be grateful you put it there and you may gain a potential business lead in the future (or a referral). Or, if you find yourself answering the same questions over and over, you can point people to the blog post where you explained the answer in detail.
- It’s good for SEO. Talking about all the different aspects of your business on a regular basis gives Google fresh content to crawl. The more blogs you write about your topic, the more keywords you will have on your site and the more searches you could potentially be found in. Nothing feels as good as a new client on the phone telling you they “found you on Google” (well, ok, a good referral feels pretty great too!)
- It helps your colleagues promote you. Is your accountant going to post a link to your website where all you do is list your services? Likely not. However, if you’re providing content their own clients may find useful, you could find colleagues, clients and cyber friends linking to you and helping to build your “expert status”.
Social media is part science and part art. It’s less about technology than simple human interaction. If you treat your followers online the same as you would in person, it will go a long way towards furthering your marketing goals. And who would answer a simple question from a potential client by saying “Well, you’ll have to pay me for that information?” (OK…sometimes that is the answer.)
What’s Left for Clients to Pay For?
If you’re giving away all your knowledge is bite-sized chunks on your website, or in freebies, or by tweets, what’s left to get paid for? There will always be people who look at your information and still need help to work through it. Sometimes it’s an accountability thing…they need hand holding or regular reminders. Sometimes clients are simply overwhelmed and want to outsource. Maybe your ideal client realizes YOU are better equipped to do your job than they are (hello…I hire a bookkeeper even though I could do that myself.) Some clients may simply hate the very thing you do, but realize it is essential to their business success (I hate bookkeeping).
I can’t tell you how many times a client has said to me “I hate social media. I just don’t get it. I don’t enjoy it.” I could publish step-by-step instructions for a social media campaign for their specific business and they would still hire me. Those who are overwhelmed, need additional help, or simply hate what I do, are my ideal clients. Giving away all my knowledge, opinions and processes on this blog isn’t going to change that, but it might help someone else! And many a client has scanned my blog as a way of vetting whether or not I know what I’m talking about.
I’m a firm believer in the ‘not everyone is a chef’ model of content marketing. Have I convinced you yet?