By their very nature, professional service firms are based on a simple business construct: they’re paid for what they say. So it’s only reasonable to assume that, if you’re saying something for free, you’re letting money out the door. Surprisingly, that way of thinking is not only wrong, but it’s possibly holding your firm back. Instead, I suggest that a marketing approach that relies heavily on giving things away.
This concept can make some a bit uneasy; “what if my competition reads it?”, “what if I just gave a possible client all they need to know?”. If these thoughts cross your mind, you’re worrying too much. In fact, the opposite is true. Giving free advice or tips can make your competition seem less knowledgeable, and can show prospects that you’re valuable before they even hire you. The honest truth is, you have a lot of insight to share while keeping the important things sacred.
That said, you have to do it right if you’re going to reap the rewards. Here are a few tips when giving things away:
1. Use a “give/get” approach. If you’re offering a checklist, guide or white paper, give it in exchange for an email address. Set up free events or webinars, but require registration so you’re building your list. Technically this isn’t totally “free”, so make damn sure that there’s value in what you’re offering.
2. Don’t get too specific. Getting too far in the weeds causes two problems. First, the more specific you are with the issue, the more limited the audience you’ll catch. Second, if you give too much detail, you risk the chance of solving the client’s problem before they’re a client. Keep your advice general, so your reader can get some value from the article, but you haven’t solved everything for them.
3. Write with the end in mind. Once you’ve shown your reader that you know your stuff, don’t let it end there. Give them a next step with a call-to-action, contact or some way they can learn more about what you’re offering. Relinquishing advice without encouraging the reader to act will never make them more than just a reader.
4. Test formats/types. It’s surprising how many marketers work to produce a massive amount of content, but don’t give enough attention to see what works and what bombs. Does your audience respond better to infographics than blog posts? Would they rather listen to a webinar than read through an ebook? If your audience isn’t wasting their time with the wrong type of content, neither should you.
5. Be consistent. Content marketing is a lot like most other forms of marketing in that they take time. Once you’ve found the formula that works for your business, stick with it. Sure, test new things from time to time, but don’t stop doing what appears to be taking hold. Commit and results will come.
I hope this article has shed some light on how giving things away – the right way – can attract an audience. But if you’re not sure how much is too much, or how much content you need to produce to get results, let’s talk. See how that works? 🙂