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Gini Dietrich

Giving Free Content to Generate Business

By: Gini Dietrich | September 22, 2011 | 
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It’s Facebook question of the week time (clap, clap, clap)!

The question, this week, comes from Rachael Seda.

She asks, “Do you think selling through free content is the new way of the world or will it change in the future?”

It’s a pretty interesting question and I hope I answered it correctly. I did not answer if content will always be free, but whether or not it’s the way to generate leads and new business.

You can watch the video below (or click here) and see if you agree…or not.

Tell Rachael what you think in the comments below.

Also tell me what you think about the last part of the video and highlighting the Facebook questioner even more.

And don’t forget…head over to Facebook and ask a question on our wall there if you’d like to be highlighted in a coming week.

Thanks, Rach, for the question this week!

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is the lead blogger here at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. She is the co-author of Marketing in the Round and co-host of Inside PR. Her second book, Spin Sucks, is available now.

29 comments
barryrsilver
barryrsilver

Gini provided some hard numbers that are strong. Please allow me to go with other areas harder to measure:

Free content provides clicks. Every click is another wink in the ongoing flirtation with the search engines.

Teaching someone how to do something on their own (build a jet engine, maintain an online presence) will show potential client the cost effectiveness of hiring you (time and errors are costly).

Free content establishes your area of expertise. You have already answered the objection of why you?.

Gini, Today the pencil, tomorrow knitting needles. You have started tubing that slippery slope. Enjoy the ride.

Leon
Leon

G'Day Gini and Rachel,

I started my business in 1978. In 1991 I attended a "Marketing Boot Camp." I learnt lots. In particular, it lead me to the marketing books written by Al Ries and Jack Trout. But there were two particular things that helped me enormously when, a year or two later, I decided to make small-medium business my target market.

Firstly, I discovered that I knew a lot of stuff about people management that most managers of small- medium business didn't know. Until then, I just imagined that If knew it so did everyone else.

Secondly, I discovered that I could build a business based on that. And I could do that by using a free Special Report as an "icebreaker/lead generator." This was in 1991, long before www and internet marketing as we know it today. Not only that, but mail order companies and others had been using giveaways for those purposes for decades.

So, the answer to your question is that free content is not the way of the future, unless this is 1911 not 2011. But you most certainly can build your business this way. Be aware of two important provisos. You must have a clearly defined narrow business focus. You must also have a clearly defined narrow target market. It's true that any business worth its salt has those two characteristics. But if you're giving content away, you want to give it only to genuine prospects, not any Terri, Debbie or Harriett who asks.

Incidentally, I moved my business online in 2008. I'm still giving away freebies for the same purpose.

Finally, make sure you have fun

Regardsleon

Tinu
Tinu

That reminds me - I haven't done a webinar in almost 10 months, and haven't done a webinar series in 2 years. Won't spoil the rest of the video for others, but quite a good answer. And good question, Rachel!

EmmaofCEM
EmmaofCEM

First off, I love the pencil in your hair. I'm in an advanced state of unfortunate mullet-dom at the moment, so I may just have to ape your style. (Seriously, I can't even remember the last time I had hair long enough to ponytail.)

Secondly, what a fabulous series! I'm gonna have to meditate on a question to ask, because this seems like a tremendous opportunity to learn at the knee of the master.

rachaelseda
rachaelseda

First of all you're too kind Gini, thank you and thanks for answering my question. I think you answered it perfectly. One I pose after is how do you then follow up and convert these contacts to leads without being too pushy?

To answer your question, ahem I'd really appreciate an Arment Dietrich like Burger King Crown to wear and perhaps a picture of me in it showcased on your Facebook page in all its glory. But wait...the crown may cause a dent in my hair...maybe @Lisa Gerber could help you construct a pencil crown? ;)

rustyspeidel
rustyspeidel

Thanks for the advice on the pencil vs rubberband--I've been struggling with that a lot lately.

wabbitoid
wabbitoid

No, never give away free content.

Oh, Hi, Lisa and Gini! :-)

I struggle with this all the time, and I'm learning what I can give away and what I shouldn't. My general guide is that methods for creating strategies can be given away, but specific details should never be. I never talk about my clients, for example, and keep my talks broad. Just enough to get a potential client's interest. :-)

staceylamiller
staceylamiller

This is a great question and ironically, @jchernov answered this question in our Vocus webinar yesterday. He argues why content marketing is so important and how it does in fact generate sales. No one wants to hear your sales pitch--give your audience what they want, whether it is new and thoughtful blog posts, video tutorials, funny cartoons or infographics, and that's how you can reel them in (and keep them in). Free content to generate business? Absolutely.

KenMueller
KenMueller

I'm ok with honoring the FB question folks as long as it's retroactive. And...it needs to be something HUGE. Like...keys to the Arment Dietrich sauna and jacuzzi room. or...Sharpies...or a Fukudome jersey.

And I have to say, I was worried when I saw your topic, because I've been sitting on a similar question from a friend and was thinking about it for my video next week. But, it's actually quite different. i HATE when you steal my thunder, you...you....thunderstealer!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@EmmaofCEM "Unfortunate mullet-dom"!??! LOL!!

Thank you! It's a fun little series. I never know what I'm going to get. For instance, @al smith wants me to record videos while I ride my bike. Still trying to figure out how to do that. So play along...it's fun!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@rachaelseda I, literally, laughed out loud at the pencil crown! I'll bet my mom could make one for you.

There are LOTS of ways you can follow-up. If you have a sales team, you can hand the leads off to them. But what we like to do, here and with our clients, is do a follow-up survey. Then add them to the newsletter/email marketing list and use that to nurture your list.

We have one client who loves the phone so he'll pick it up and call each of them, but not many will do that. That's why I like the nurturing types of things.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@wabbitoid The blog is free content. Lots of free content. So you're giving it away.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@sacevero@jchernov That's why I respect Joe so much...we agree on just about everything!

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