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Are You Giving Away the Farm Or Just Planting Valuable Seeds?

You’ve been a diligent and studious acolyte of your content marketing elders, and you’ve put a great deal of energy toward creating usable online content. Suddenly, though, a moment of panic: “Am I giving away the whole farm? If I’m that generous with information, what will be left that I can sell these people?!” Take an herbal Xanax equivalent, roll out your yoga mat and count to infinity. Things are gonna be fine.
You’re not being a total paranoid kook. Let’s say you owned a fishing boat and you taught every prospective customer that walked by how to fish. You’d put yourself out of business. But you’ve got to be calm-headed and realistic about your business – is your product as simple to obtain or put together as catching fish?
There are good reasons to offer strong, valuable content in your marketing efforts. Great content can connect you with other valuable people besides new customers, like taste-makers, journalists, highly useful vendors and potential business partners or co-creators.
Content allows your followers to easily spread your content to their friends, who might even then share it with their friends and so on. It’s one thing when positive word of mouth moves around organically. It’s another when your very own content masterwork goes viral and suddenly you’re some kind of business-owning, Internet age Bill Shakespeare.
Great content attracts your specific target audience and shows your qualitative edge in the marketplace. It also can preemptively answer objections (all those annoying deal-killers prospective customers will throw at you). Your content can show off your successes and offer incontrovertible proof that you are fully legit and in it to win it.
Don’t be afraid to give out some real goodies – usable information, valuable data, even practical methodologies. Really strong stuff will keep them coming back as long they continue to have a need. Remember the quaint motto of those guys down at the park: “The taste is free – you pay after that.” Sure, you might give out multiple free samples, but you get the idea.
There are reasons many people will still use your company’s product or service after you’ve given out plenty of excellent free information. They can’t execute the way you can. They don’t have the time. They’re just lazy. Watching some great YouTube videos on auto repair or playing the piano still doesn’t make you a master mechanic or Billy Joel. Your content should be useful and edifying. Trust the law of abundance.
Okay, fine. You want to hear the flip side, that too much is too much. That’s true for these circumstances: Don’t give away all of the “how.” There are always some people who have the aptitude and diligence to successfully replicate your methods. Don’t give too much time and energy hand holding; you’re already giving out content, don’t be a personal valet. Don’t make your free content too complex, either – most people simply won’t follow it if they haven’t dropped a bunch of cash for it. And lastly, don’t give out what amounts to a valuable e-book that someone else could turn around and re-sell themselves.
But in the end, the rule of thumb is to be generous with your content. Remember, they probably need what you do a lot more than they need the information you share with them. The quicker and easier they gets these results, the more “bought in” they will be.
Free content can tell your story and show people who you are as a person. In many industries, who you work with can be as important as what they do for you, especially if they will be working with you closely for a while.

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