If you type into Google search “There’s no such thing as….”, high up on the list is “a free lunch”. It’s a phrase we hear a lot, meaning you can’t get something for nothing. This is particularly true of the average sales person in the business world.
How often have you felt like you’ve been unintentionally dragged into a sales pitch by a shrewdly spoken sales guy? Or when have you ashamedly clicked on a ‘win here guaranteed’ tab only to be taken through a maze of probing questions - which goes on to update a disguised companies database – where you then find out that really, you only have a 1 in 6000 chance of winning a wooden spoon…
But imagine if you gave with the intention of not receiving, this is actually a very effective marketing tool used by some to win the audience and build a reputation of trust and credibility. It’s simple, you engage your audience with a freebie, who then spread the word of your good name - because lets face it, who doesn’t like something for nothing? They’ll now view you as a business that cares, not like the others who just want your dollar.
LuluLemon are a great example of a brand that through clever content marketing has seemingly grown overnight. They’ve used a strategic plan that offers free community events. They encourage existing and potential customers to attend their free yoga classes and group fitness sessions located in their retail stores. Not only does this position the brand in the mind of the customer, but it brings them to the very place that they make their money, in store. As a yoga-goer I tried out their classes and was really impressed by the staff who willingly gave up their evenings to teach others. The class I attended was so popular they had to start restricting numbers and and directing customers to other events via Facebook to accommodate everyone. Surely it’s no co-incidence that I’ve recently noticed more runners and gym users sporting the Lululemon logo?
By offering free classes, advice and a professional service, they’ve cemented a positive association with their brand and the potential for sales. It makes them likeable. What the customer is giving in return, is valuable contact details, which everyone knows is priceless when building a sustainable database. However, this is little payment considering there’s no annoying sales pitch or product push.
Another technique Lululemon use is collaboration – they associate themselves with popular events, i.e. marathons, and offer healthy discounts to customers. For example, if you buy a product containing the word ‘running’ in the title, they gain a discount. It may only be a small discount but it’s enough to gain the attention of the audience and be perceived as a supportive brand that wants you to achieve your goals!
Another example of how a company gives not to receive is TXT4Coffee, Australia’s first free coffee ordering and payment system via an app. They provide a platform for unlimited coffee shops to provide a free service to their customers by allowing them to order their coffee in advance, therefore missing the queuing process. It’s genius, the customer is happy because they’re getting a free service allowing them to get their coffee fix quicker. The Coffee shop is happy because they’re collecting customer data, attracting a new tech-savvy audience and in the long run becoming a more efficient company (Current TXT4Coffee stores are saving on average 50 minutes per day).
The coffee shops realise that content marketing is about enhancing the customer experience, not creating content for the sake of it. There are so many apps available; a huge amount merely created for novelty purpose, yet this provides value and therefore credibility and acceptance of the company associated with it.
In content marketing, there’s heaps of ways of giving to your audience without appearing to be making a sales pitch. You can give in the form of knowledge and experience, offering free advice from an expert, which in turn increases your trustworthiness and credibility.
Share free content through a newsletter or on your website by providing an interesting blog article, an entertaining video, or an offer or discount. It doesn’t even have to be related to your business, as the collaboration with a successful and credible organisation will associate the two and therefore your business gets the acylation and positive reputation in turn.
We know that we can produce a video, podcast or whole content marketing strategy for our clients, but by sharing our knowledge and expertise too, we realised a long time ago that we could bring companies into the right media mind-set by allowing them to think as publishers. This is essential in building your database and sustaining your audience, by producing regular, relevant and quality content and delivering it to the people that matter.