Some months ago I was talking with a client who, for the past 30 years, has done leadership training and professional development in the public sector. As we were discussing strategies to engage prospects in some new markets, I suggested a strategy to leverage some of their vast content: putting together a brief informative piece, such as a booklet or report, that focused on just one training lesson or exercise. Indeed, this piece would be a representative sample of one of their more comprehensive programs. But it was very important that this finished piece deliver some real measurable value to the prospect. In short, they had to truly get something out of it.
My client looked at me as though I was crazy.
Perhaps I was…because I was asking him to gi–gi–gi–give something away (Yes, that means at no charge.). But this is a fundamental point of content marketing.
He quickly shot that idea down, and instead reached for a branded pen on his desk. “Let’s give them this instead.”
Immediately the thought occurred to me: The cost between a printed booklet (let’s leave digital formats out for now) and a branded ball-point pen would not be much different. But, which would have more value to the prospect?
Don’t get me wrong…branded chotchkies (pens, mugs, etc.) can be great marketing tools when used correctly. But how many of us lose pens on a regular basis? Why is that?
Even full length, printed books can be powerful prospecting tools (when shared with qualified prospects of course). Your cost may only be a few dollars each (far less today than just a few years ago with print-on-demand technology). I know this because I have created them for clients as well.
Let’s say you receive a book from a new business acquaintance (one who would like to pursue a business relationship with you). This book contains some solutions to your most pressing problems (just shy of the secrets of the universe). Am I safe to say that it will not receive the same fate as that branded ball point? At best, it will earn a permanent place on your desk; at worst, on your office bookshelf. The more value it delivers, the more often you refer to it.
And the more you value it, the more you get to know, like and trust the person who gave it to you. Give that some thought.