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July 2015

Why Your Free Content Isn’t Really Free

Not Free

Free Content Doesn’t Exist

I am a big proponent of putting out free content on a regular basis to drive leads.  I understand that the most effective forms of content marketing are all about solving problems, answering questions and building trust.  The fact that educating leads turns them into better customers is not lost on me.  And while I say all of this and use the term “free content,” I understand that it’s never truly free.

Content Costs Customers Time & Effort

There’s time invested on my part to do research, create the content and promote it.  But most importantly, there’s time and effort costs that I am asking of my website visitors, followers and customers to consume the content.  While this may not be a financial cost, it’s a psychological cost and one that’s equally important  This is something that’s often overlooked by many marketers.  They believe that simply putting content out there is enough and are baffled when it doesn’t drive results.

I was recently on a webinar with folks at marketingexperiments.com and this was a big topic of discussion.  One thing they pointed out is that regardless of the type of content that’s a part of your marketing strategy, you’re asking the potential customer to answer “yes” several times as they take small steps toward becoming a lead or a sale.  The key element in all of this is telling the story and getting the sequence right.  The illustration used in the webinar was to think of all types of content as you would a video production and I have to say I like that comparison.  Let me explain…

All Effective Videos Have A Good Sequence
Think of all of your content marketing, regardless of the medium, as if it were a video production.  What I mean by that is don’t start with the end in mind.  While the call-to-action is important, just like a video production, the stage must first be set.  The visitor must understand what the problem is or why your story matters if you want them to continue to watch.  All content marketing is this same way.  Before you ask for an email sign up and before you ask for a whitepaper download, you must first take the visitor along the right sequence.

Remove The Friction
While putting together the best sequence, remove all possible points of friction.  Too much copy is a point of friction.  A video that takes forever to load is a point of friction.  Asking for too much information in order to sign up for something is a point of friction.  Take time to think through the sequence you’re asking potential customers to follow and make it as smooth as possible.

The Ideal Customer Sequence
Just like a well planned video production, here is the ideal customer acquisition sequence that can be applied to all forms of content:

1. Orient the Visitor – quickly communicate why they are there
2. Build Credibility – explain why they should listen to you
3. Get to the Good Stuff – tell the story/solve the problem
4. Point of Difference – show what makes you/your business the best
5. Call to Action – ask the customer to take some type of action

Let’s build your perfect customer sequence.   Contact Focal Point now to get started with a strategic marketing plan!

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