Free Content as a Marketing Technique

March 16, 2010: Brian Haugen, Interactive Marketing Strategist

David Meerman Scott's blog, WebInkNow, recently had a post featuring a great interview with Tom Peters. One of the topics that caught my interest was hearing Tom describe why he gives away totally free content (as David points out, the content is truly free—it doesn't even require registration).

To paraphrase Mr. Peter's rationale:

  • They are ideas he cares deeply about, so he wants to get them to as many people as possible.
  • Fundamentally, the blog has become is the best marketing tool he has (though he's been giving away free content a lot longer than blogs have been around).

But I bet a lot of people would hear this and wonder how it applies to their business. It's one thing to use this tactic to sell books; it's another to apply it to a B2C service-oriented business, for example. This got my wheels turning and I decided to make a list of ways that financial services or healthcare marketers can give away free content to market their services.

  • Give away a free email newsletter, but don't require subscribers to give you anything other than their email address and don't hard-sell them with the content. All the email should do is help people solve their problems.
  • Provide Facebook and/or Twitter money tips. Have you considered delivering these via an opt-in text message subscription?
  • Free print newsletter, same criteria as the email version above.
  • Free content on the website, same criteria as the newsletters.
  • Start that blog you've been planning for years. It's not too late!

All of these things may sound like a lot of work with no reward, considering that none of the readers are ever going to hear about your new high-yield checking account or your new gamma knife. But if it works for some of the best marketing minds of our generation, why not give it a try?

Have thoughts or feedback? Feel free to comment below.

This blog post was originally published on the Priority Blog at Priority Integrated Marketing is now BlueSpire Strategic Marketing.

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