There are many entrepreneurs (or wantrepreneurs) who believe the myth that building a startup is a piece of cake. Many fall prey to the “if you build it they will come” mentality, and don’t realize only a fraction of startups actually lift off the ground.
I read an insightful article the other day on why the freemium model of marketing fails for startup companies. Good stuff by fellow partner at Copyblogger Media, Brian Clark.
What is Content Marketing?
Up until a few years ago, I asked myself this question and could only take stabs at what I thought it meant. Truth be told, I had actually no idea what content marketing was.
Or more importantly how vital content marketing is to the success of a business.
Below you’ll see a brief explanation, but if you’re looking for a more comprehensive one, go ahead and check out our Content Marketing 101 page.
Content Marketing means creating and sharing valuable free content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers.
What is the Freemium Model?
In the freemium model of marketing, businesses offer up something to a user at no cost – with the hopes that down the road they can offer a “premium” (or more enhanced) version of that product which people will pay money for.
One of the best examples of this are apps that you’d find in Apple’s store. Most notably this concept can be recognized when you see something like “get the X Product Lite version for free” or “upgrade to the X Product Pro version for $$$”.
How the Freemium Model Can Go Wrong
In Brian’s article, he uses the popular 80′s rock band New Order to illustrate his point. Back in the day, New Order partnered with Factory Records and Tony Wilson to establish a nightclub called the Haçienda.
All was well when they kicked things off, until the rave and ecstasy scene ignited which resulted in a huge money pit for those involved.
So what was the problem? Here’s how Brian explains it:
Well, clubs rely on alcohol sales for profits. At the Haçienda, people didn’t want alcohol, they wanted other drugs … with maybe an occasional water or juice from the bar. The dealers got rich, while the Haçienda provided the marketplace and carried the overhead.
In some cases, the freemium model can backfire on you. People get used to something for nothing, and you might have a product or service that they are unwilling to pay for.
In Brian’s article, his first lesson is to ensure that you are offering something of extreme value and that you’ll be able to (successfully) charge for it. Otherwise, he says, you could end up alone at the bar, lining up the occasional juice or water.
I’m Not Saying…
That the freemium model can’t work, just that it’s sometimes tougher (and requires more time) to get it to work. There are plenty of examples nowadays which prove that it can work, so don’t get me wrong.
What I am saying is that, personally, I believe that content marketing is the way to go.
Based on what I see in my blog comments and the keyword searches that bring folks here, it’s safe for me to assume that my visitors don’t build apps for mobile devices.
When I see are people looking for “how to become a successful realtor online” and “why should companies use a blog”, I realize that it’s my responsibility to provide them answers based on what has worked for me.
So let’s dive into why content marketing works.
1. People trust you when you provide them free content.
Here’s were content marketing and the freemium model of marketing somewhat overlap. Earlier in the post when I referred to the freemium model, I was primarily speaking about products. (Software, apps, and the like.)
Content, however, in it’s native sense is a much different story. Remember, content marketing is offerring free and valuable information in the hopes that you convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers.
When you dole out information (free of charge), it helps establish you as a credible source. More importantly, it creates a trust factor as well.
2. People share your content to others who might benefit.
Nowadays it’s extremely simple to share content – especially with all of the social sharing plugins that are available to embed into your site.
When people trust you, they are more likely to share your content.
Think about it, for a moment. Whose content do you share on a daily basis? For me, it’s guys like Brian Clark, Chris Brogan, Neil Patel and a few others.
Why do I share their content? Simply because I trust them, and believe what they say.
3. People will pay for your knowledge when they trust you.
I’d be willing to bet that a majority of savvy business owners understand that not everything in life is free. While content marketing brings in traffic and the trust factor, you still need to convince others why your information is worth paying for.
A few months ago I went shopping for a road bike, because I signed up to participate in a 1/2 Ironman event. While I was there, I asked many questions and was met with an overwhelming amount of information.
The guy went above and beyond the call of duty, and gave me answers to questions I hadn’t even asked yet. In a fun way, he used content marketing to lure me in.
We spoke about swimming, biking and running – I bring this up to illustrate a point.
I was graciously met with an overabundance of information, and felt that the source went above and beyond the call of duty. In essence, he established trust.
Did I purchase a bike from him? Yes.
Would I spend money if he offered an “Ironman Training” course? Yes.
Practical Applications of Content Marketing
Now you might be wondering how the content marketing strategy looks, and I’m going to use my friend as an example.
I have a good buddy who has over 30 years of experience in the real estate and mortgage industry, and recently closed his business. Not because he had none, but he was simply burnt out and needed something different.
While he entertained a number of different ideas, I encouraged him to use the information he’s collected over the years and “get online” with it.
He’s well aware of that real estate agents need social media and the internet, and that there’s a thirst for old school realtors to pull technology into their marketing plans.
What better way to utilize his knowledge than to teach agents how to use the power of the social media and the internet to build their business and create more sales?
A few weeks ago Rich launched his website Winning Agent, where he’ll use content marketing as a strategy to establish an email list and ultimately sell access to upcoming webinars and sales tools.
How’s YOUR Content Marketing Going?
So there you have it. Why you should put your efforts and resources into content marketing, and examples of how that can look.
What are your thoughts about it? Are you using content marketing as a strategy? How has it affected your business?
Let’s discuss below.