Ever heard the one about the dealer who gives you what you want for free until you’re hooked then starts charging money?
It’s not a joke, it’s a proven business strategy, although content marketing isn’t so nefarious in nature.
Free samples are popular among food and beverage retailers and blogs are another method of providing free content to potential customers, for example.
Free content as a marketing strategy
Content marketing is based on the premise of providing content that informs or entertains with the intention to change customer behaviour. Essentially persuading your audience to make a purchase after engaging with free content.
Get your funny for nothing
Content that entertains, like comedy or gossip, is likely to go viral, like a good joke does in the pub or classroom. If you’ve got comedy talent, social media is fertile ground to connect with an audience and convert them to customers, or followers of a cause.
Topical and authority content
Responding to what is trending is a good way to stay relevant, and be considered an authority on a topic.
A good example of this could be a white paper or academic research, that can be turned into a PR story. For example, my alma mater Manchester University, is this year’s best university for action on sustainable development.
Sustainability is hugely topical as world leaders will convene to discuss the road to net zero emissions at the COP26 UN climate change conference set to take place in November 2021.
Free content marketing
The previous example shows an authority on a topic giving away free content to be considered a leader in their field. Useful for a University.
Michelin tyres took a different strategy.
The Michelin Guide Book was first published in 1900. The company wanted to compel more people to drive, and therefore, buy more tyres, so they wrote about the best places to dine out in the Guide, and gave away thousands of copies for free.
The guide was so successful that Michelin Stars are now coveted awards among restaurants the world over.
And not a desperate car salesman in sight!
Like it sounds, evergreen content is not topical, it’s good all year round. This kind of content is good for website pages, or can be repurposed and reblogged or recirculated at a later date.
Examples of evergreen content are FAQs Frequently Asked Questions, How to guides, industry resources, learning materials, with an emphasis on the content being useful.