Blue Helm

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Blue Helm

How much free content should your company release?

How much?This is an important question not only for my business, but for any business looking to make it big in the online world. It’s a difficult question and it’s taken me four or five attempts to put my answer in writing.

So what’s the answer? Well, it depends. I think the reason it’s been so hard to write this post is because there are so many factors in play when deciding what kind of content your company should release. The content you release depends on whether you’re selling a service or a product. It depends on the size of the company and the existing market share you possess. It depends on the goals you’ve set and the direction you want to take your company. There really is no easy answer that applies to everyone.

So instead of trying to write the one-stop-post on why you should or shouldn’t publicize free content, I’m going to focus on a few reasons why releasing valuable and free content is advantageous.

It establishes credibility

People will read your material if it’s useful for them. If a first-time visitor to your website, blog, Twitter page or Facebook page finds something of value, they’re more likely to return at a later time. If they get something valuable most of the time they interact with your company or website, they will accept you as a trusted and credible source. For example, Darren Rowse (author of problogger.com) received this email from a reader in response to his latest ebook:

I’ve never bought an ebook before, partly because I don’t trust people with my credit card information and partly because I’ve always suspected most ebooks are just fluff…. But after reading your blog for 12 months and being on the receiving end of useful information every day over that time I decided you were probably a credible source of information”.

The credibility gained from your content will set your company apart as a go-to source in your industry.

It strengthens your brand equity

As your credibility increases so does your brand equity. Brand equity is when people are willing to pay a higher premium for your product just for the name. As you become an opinion leader in your industry, clients will see your company name as a premium brand and will be willing to pay more for your product.

It produces referrals

Now that people trust you and see you as a credible source, chances are good they’ll tell their friends and colleagues all about you. This is the essence of social media. Your business increases as customers and readers refer people to you.

Seth Godin posted this on his blog: “If you really want to make a lot of money then you need to tactically use free content to sell your own premium content/product/service.”

What do you think? If you disagree, I want to know. If you have any more ideas, please impart of your wisdom.

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3 Responses to “How much free content should your company release?”

  1. October 13th, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Andrew says:

    As someone who’s had some experience launching content marketing engagement plans, I’d say this post is spot on.

    The only thing that I would add is that giving away free content doesn’t magically produce results. Content marketing has the potential to do all the things you mention, but not the promise.

    As you know the issue is complex and deserves detailed attention and expertise. I suppose that’s where bluehelm the company comes in. :)

    Great work Chad.

  2. October 14th, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Alexander Jenkins says:

    Great thoughts and great timing. I’m 2-3 months away from launching my first on-line venture and I want to do it right. I’m the “new guy” with all this and have been dealing with this question daily.

    What I learned from your article is to make sure my free content is truly valuable ‘loss leader’ rather than just stuff. Seems obvious, but apparently it’s not.

    Show me just a restroom (which is the free service of any business, restaurant, hotel, etc) and I bet I can get pretty close to describing the quality of the businesses paid products.

    Thanks for the article,
    Alexander

  3. October 16th, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Byron says:

    This is a great topic. I offer free presentations to high school teachers with the only cost being a 5 minute infomercial about a product that some of their students may be interested in down the road. It is crucial to be clear and up front about this for the students who may be interested down the road AND to not cross the sales line for those who are not interested at this time.

    Gen Y/Millennials do not mind being introduced to a product/service BUT they are pretty hip due to the amount of marketing directed at them and they DO NOT appreciate any attempts to “trick” them into a sale. Therefore, it is far better to be up front from the beginning.

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