How Can I Give Away Content without Giving Away the Store?

by Alice Seba and Annette Elton

Here’s a question we recently received from our subscriber, Ed.

“How do we keep from ‘giving away the store?’ That is, how do we keep from giving away what we’d normally charge clients to do for them?”

This is a very common question amongst our clients and people we’ve worked with over the years. It’s a common question because it’s a VERY GOOD one and something anyone who uses content marketing should ask themselves. The good news is, it’s actually easy to keep a hold on that store and reap the benefits of publishing content.

We’d like to illustrate how you do this through a few examples…

If you sell a service, you don’t need to provide content on how to do what you do because people who want to do it themselves aren’t really in your target market. You can create content that teaches your readers how to find a reputable service provider. You can also create content that teaches people how to enhance the work you do for them.

For example, if you are a virtual assistant (VA), you can create content that shows business owners to effectively use the extra time they’ll have after they hire you. You can teach them how to delegate, how to plan their marketing and so forth.

Or if you’re a laminate floor installer, show your readers the benefits of using laminate and tell them how to care for their laminate floor.

If you sell a consumer product, the same logic applies. You want the content to teach them why they need your product and enhance their experience of using your product. So if you sell anti-wrinkle cream, you can create case studies, talk about the effects of aging and all kinds of things. There are plenty of things to share that will help your target customer.

If you sell information products, people think this is where it gets really tricky, but it doesn’t have to. There are a couple of ways you can approach this.

In the often quoted words of Jimmy D. Brown, “teach them what do do, but not how to do it.” In other words, you’re giving people the solution to their problem, but not the step-by-step instructions for doing it. You’re showing them they need your product to fully accomplish what they want to do.

For example, if you sell an ebook on dog training, you might tell your readers about the key points of obedience training. You can share the basics of training…but your information product can go deeper into helping people with hard-to-train dogs. Give them a reason to go for the further training.

You can also offer extras with your information product. Do you offer personalized service, an active discussion community or valuable customer only discounts? Use those to create further interest in your info product.

The bottom line is, your product needs to add value beyond anything you share freely. If you create your product and content marketing plan haphazardly, you might run into some conflicts. But if you plan your product with your content marketing plan in mind, it’s much easier to create a cohesive plan that educates your reader AND gives them a reason to buy your product.

That’s a win-win for all, right?

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