Is Content Marketing Devaluing Your Services?
Posted by Guest Author on April 10, 2012 in Marketing [ 0 Comments ]
There is no denying that content marketing is a must-do for any online business. Content is what drives your social media marketing and SEO campaigns, and without a strong content marketing campaign propelling your brand forward, your Internet marketing will eventually plateau. Content can come in any size or shape—blogs, white papers, webinars, infographics, videos, podcasts and so forth—and all have their place in a content marketing campaign. In my opinion as an SEO professional, a content marketing campaign should mainly be focused on creating informational and educational content, not promotional material for your brand. A good rule of thumb to follow is every 1 out of 10 pieces of content can be promotional (like a blog post introducing a new product) but the other 9 should focus on educating your readers and building your authority as an industry expert.
Why Free Content Works
Although you can charge for some of your content (like a fee to join in on a webinar), most of the content you produce is probably going to be free, as is most of the content created by your competition. All this free information has led to an interesting, yet unfortunate side effect—your target audience has come to expect free information all the time.
This is particularly common in the SEO industry. As an SEO professional dedicated to educating my prospective clients, I write content for three blogs, publish bi-weekly newsletters and put out one educational video each week. I also write guest posts for various industry blogs, have a few white papers available for download, and host webinars a few times a year with various partners. That’s a lot of free content to be publishing but I know that it’s well worth it. That free content is going to educate my target audience so that I eventually work with a better client. However, I’ve also noticed (and other SEO professionals have lamented on the fact) that prospective clients and leads are expecting a lot more information out of us upfront during the early stages of the sales cycle. It’s almost like they are expecting a detailed, point-by-point, in-depth analysis of their site the first time we talk!
Unfortunately, I can’t give them that kind of “under the hood” review right off the bat for multiple reasons. First and foremost, I need access to a site’s analytics and back end information to determine what’s going on. I need to learn how the industry works, how seasonality might affect their online performance, and who the competition is. All of these factors would determine what kind of SEO campaign they need to undertake. Before someone is a client I don’t have access to that kind of information, but because these prospects have become used to getting free best practice tips and guidelines via my content marketing, they’ve come to expect the same during our meetings!
Can a Company Give Away Too Much Free Content?
Some site owners feel that giving away too much content undermines the value of the products/services they offer and I can understand their concern. Why buy the cow if you could get the milk for free? I’m pretty sure that if a site owner read every blog post I’ve published in the last seven years they would learn just about everything they would need to know about how to optimize their website and run a successful SEO campaign. But here’s the thing—if they want to do it on their own anyway, reading my free content isn’t going to make much of a difference in changing their mind. It would take years to read all the content that is out there and chances are they’d make a few missteps along the way, but they set out it do it themselves and that’s their prerogative. For site owners that become my SEO clients, even though the information exists and they could do it themselves, they don’t want to. They hire me and my firm because they don’t have the time or desire to do it; the same holds true for your company.
Why Content Marketing Matters
A content marketing campaign helps establish your brand as an industry leader and authority in your niche. A client is going to hire you/buy from you because you have the years of experience and knowledge that they don’t, nor do they have the time or desire to become experts in your field. For instance, I hired an accountant to manage the payroll for my company. I could have learned how to do payroll myself, but I don’t have the time or energy to do so as it would take away from the time I spend trying to grow my own business. Instead, I hired an expert to manage it for me.
A strong content marketing campaign is not going to devalue your services or undermine your expertise. Quite the opposite in fact! A great content marketing campaign that focuses on educating your target audience is going to help build your reputation as an expert and help deliver better quality clients in the long run.
Photo Credit: interactmedia.com
Nick Stamoulis is the President and Founder of Brick Marketing, a Boston SEO services and social media marketing firm. With over 12 years of industry experience, Nick Stamoulis shares his B2B SEO knowledge by posting daily tips to his blog, the Search Engine Optimization Journal, and publishing the Brick Marketing SEO Newsletter, read by over 150,000 opt-in subscribers. Contact Nick Stamoulis at 781-999-1222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.