Should I give information away for free?

I am often asked by clients and members of The Marketing Compass: “Should I give information away for free?” The answer is yes – regardless of your type of business. Here are some of the reasons:

pen and notepad*  Sharing information is a marketing strategy in its own right
*  When you write regularly, new ideas keep popping into your head
*  Customers want to learn about your products / services
*  When customers are in the market to buy, they are keen to learn
*  It is a myth that buyers are too busy to read long body copy
(If you are buying a house – would you read the Surveyor’s report?)
*  The more you write within your website, the more that the search engines will love you
*  If you don’t do this, your competitors are doing so, or they will be doing so soon

In an increasingly digital world, it is likely that whatever you are selling has a high information content. Or it may only comprise information (i.e. consultancy, training services, website development, books). Physical products such as cars are now computers with a wheel on each corner. I am always surprised when a business person says to me: “But we don’t have anything to write about.” There is always something to write about, even if you manufacture cardboard boxes (why did you get into this business / how do you make these products / how can you improve customer service / what is your environmental policy / how will automation change your industry / what are the trends within your sector?)

Company information comes in many forms. In the last century, this was primarily sales information i.e. “stuff about us, our products and how great we are.” The challenge is that every company was doing this, causing a cacophony of chest beating and shouting within the marketplace. The customer found it difficult to differentiate any single chest beater from the the rest of the pack.

An alternative approach is to A) Get the customer to talk about what you do, within case studies and testimonials and B) Use a Customer Education approach. This is what I have been doing for the last 15 years. It generates 1 sales lead a day, which is fine for us (my wife and I work together within our 2 person business). If you have a larger enterprise than ours, you would need to scale everything up. Here are some of the things that I do:

1.  I blog regularly. Once a week is now my minimum target, but I am aiming for an average of twice per week. Believe me, this is tough as I am extremely busy.
2. I send out a monthly newsletter. (You can subscribe here, if you wish), via MailChimp. It does help that I am a MailChimp trainer however learning how to create and send Campaigns is quite straightforward.
3. A few years ago, we built our own social media website for business owners which is where I continually engage with people and answer questions (alongside the active members!)
4.  I write marketing e-books and printed books.
5.  I give marketing talks.
6.  I have produced videos (and I will be doing more of these).
7.  I produce marketing guides and checklists.

Yes, this is all time consuming. Yes, I love doing it. No, I am not looking for business when I write blogs and answer questions – I am just writing. Much of the above is free to access and read. Some of it is cheap to buy. Sometimes I give part of my knowledge away for free and then I let the readers / audience members know how they can purchase the whole thing.

I am continually learning. One thing that I have learnt is that the more I give away – the higher my website stats go and the more conversations I have with new customers.

Other blogs which you may find helpful:
Are you are creative thinker?    Coming up with new ideas    Copywriting – art or science?   

Written by marketing consultant, trainer, speaker and author Nigel Temple.
3,000+ clients over a 30 year period.
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Photograph © copyright Nigel Temple

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