Should You Give Away Your Marketing Content?

Wendy Keneipp on May 10, 2021

This is a question often debated, and you’ll find varying opinions. So I recommend selecting a philosophy that makes sense to you, your company, and your sensibilities or company values and stick with it. Don’t scour competitors’ websites and lay awake worrying about how your strategy isn’t right.

Marketing is part art, part science, part gut feeling, and a lotta trial and error. Seeing what other people do and what experts suggest is good for getting ideas of what could make sense for you. But every audience is different, and you have a unique relationship with your audience in the same way others have with their audience. So if you try to fashion your programs exactly after someone else’s, it will likely not gain the same results.

You and your buyer

As with any marketing endeavor, you must first know yourself and your audience. You can learn how to get clarity about your business here with our guide to defining your brand. Brand definition is a critical first step that way too many insurance agencies bypass, and instead, they settle for a generic program not tailored to their audience.

Once you know your audience, you need an understanding of how that audience goes about making a buying decision. Enter the Buyer’s Journey.

Awareness

The buyer’s journey starts when your buyer or reader recognizes they have some pain and frustration, and they want to find more information about what it is and what they should do about it. This is the awareness stage.

In this stage, buyers are “just browsing.” And like you browse clothes or cars, you probably don’t want to talk to anyone and certainly don’t want to give up any information.

Give it away or gate it? At this stage, give your content away! Readers are looking for free resources, and your content may be just what they need to recognize it’s time to make a change. There are many potential readers at this stage.

Talk freely about the challenges you see your buyers having. What struggles are employers dealing with? What questions are they often asking? Talk about these things, answer the questions. Blog articles and LinkedIn posts are great tools for providing this awareness-level content. And blogs and LinkedIn aren’t gated tools, so they become a natural outlet for sharing awareness-type content.

How to use this content: Make this information readily available to your readers. Display blog posts prominently on the site. Provide links to your social platforms in the header or footer, so they’re easily accessible.

How you can interact: Offer a subscription form in the footer so they can receive the content directly. Respond to people who engage with your online posts.

Consideration

After enough awareness exploration, buyers become familiar with their challenges, recognizing the problem, and start looking for solutions. They want someone to help answer their questions with a solid resolution. And this moves them into the consideration stage.

In consideration, your readers are looking for more substantial information. Ideas that outline potential resolutions. The how-to ideas for dealing with their frustrations. Analysis tools to see how they rate and where they may need to improve.

Give it away or gate it? You can make an argument here for either at this stage. I like gating at this stage. Readers are looking to analyze themselves and their situation and are willing to offer up a little information to move the process along. You’ll see fewer readers at this stage than at the awareness stage.

Create something of substance and guidance that will help your readers understand their situation better, gaining insight and clarity. Share generously, but it is helpful to know who is reading the content and have an opportunity to follow up with them and see how you can help them.

When making a form, don’t get greedy. You’ll lose potential form-fillers if you ask for too much information. A general rule is to make the form commensurate with the content received. If it’s a first form fill or a smaller piece of content, just ask for the basics to get a profile started: name, company, and email address.

Depending on the form functionality you use, you can add smart fields so when the user comes back to fill in another form, previously filled-in fields are already populated, and you can add a new one. This is an easy, progressive way to build a more complete profile about your readers. You may add on overtime with company name, industry, role, and number of employees.

How to use the content: Make the content available in multiple ways. Post to LinkedIn and direct readers to a page with the form. Make a call-to-action button on your site that links people to the content page. Share the link in emails to your readers.

How you can interact: Send a thank you email when someone downloads your content or registers for your event. Ask if they have any questions or want further information.

Decision

After feeling comfortable with the ideas they want to pursue, buyers will start looking for specific people or companies who can help them with the solution they want. This is where buyers move into the decision stage.

Now they’re looking for information and details on how you can help them. It’s all about finding the right match at this stage. There are even fewer readers interacting at this stage – they’re serious buyers now.

Give it away or gate it? This is a bit of a different one because your buyers are looking for pricing, social proof, case studies, and conversations. I recommend making as much of this freely available as possible.

For readers at this stage who’ve been looking at your resources, you already have a profile for them from the content they’ve consumed, and you may have had some exchanges or interactions with them. Now it’s time to bring in a salesperson for some more personalized interaction.

With or without a salesperson involved, when buyers want to buy, don’t be a hindrance. Give them what they want and let them buy! 😀 Make it easy to contact you, read up on why you may be the perfect fit, and hear from others who have had successful experiences with you.

How to use this content: Make yourselves as accessible as possible. Provide Contact Us buttons throughout the site (adding it to the header is a great solution). All contact information should also be in the footer: name, address, phone number.

Include case studies, testimonials, and links to social platforms so people can self-serve.

Pricing information is difficult for an insurance agency because all prices are custom. But you can talk about pricing anyway – How do you get paid? What can the buyer expect for fees?

How you can interact: You likely have their information at this point, so when you see people interacting with your content – opening emails, reading blogs, liking or commenting on LinkedIn – reach out and offer to have a chat. Don’t pitch them. Don’t try to sell your wares. Just ask if they’d like to talk about what their needs are – you may or may not be a fit, but you may have some ideas to help them as they look.

Be generous

Give openly and share your ideas with many people. Those who are interested will seek out more from you. They’re also likely to talk about you and promote your content, exposing you to others who may not have been on your list. Readers who may be a good business fit will either reach out to you or be receptive to you reaching out to them.

Quality of content ➕ the frequency you share it ➡️ trust and conversations.

We need a lot of people hearing the open and freely shared ideas to get down to those few who are a right fit for doing business together. Make it easy for them to interact with you and be generous with your ideas and your time.

Photo by elosa. 

Topics: Tools + Resources, Marketing + Branding