A Shift in Marketing: The era of free content
Traditionally, marketing was basically the art of satisfying fake needs with real products or selling fake solutions meant to solve real problems.
We’ve seen a shift in this “sell at all costs” paradigm since content marketing came along. Gary Vaynerchuk keeps repeating (and doing) it: it’s about sharing free, quality content in order to build trust and maintain attention. When you have both, then and only then you go for the sale. When you’ve been feeding your fans quality content for free for a while, they’ll be aching for your paid content. It’s only normal to assume that if your free content is good, that your paid content must be extraordinary! And it really should be. One rule of marketing that will always be true is never raise the public’s expectations higher than you can fulfil them. So if they expect your paid stuff to be at least as good as your free content – it’d better be!
Why the change in paradigm?
We live in a new era, where information is no longer scarce and available to only a select few, but rather excessive and bombarding your customers on a daily basis. Money isn’t the currency anymore – attention is. In this time of overwhelming information, the hardest thing to get is people’s attention. And therefore, being able to get and maintain the public’s attention is the most valuable skill to have.
But why give out free quality content? Well, because your informed consumers are no longer buying based on technicalities. They’re buying based on emotion and trust and you need to establish both if you want a long-term relationship with your customers.
Handing out quality content is the best way to establish that trust, because you’re not just saying “I know what I’m talking about”, you’re giving real examples of you knowing exactly what to talk about. And when enough people realise that you do actually know stuff, they’ll want to get more from you. Inevitably, they’ll reach the point where they’ll be happy to buy that knowledge from you.
The Rule of 1000
This is a widespread theory that you can make a living off of any kind of internet activity when you get 1000 true fans. Why? Well, the formula is pretty easy: if 1000 people are true fans of your content and willing to pay 20€ for something, then you’ve got 20.000€ in the blink of an eye! Rinse and repeat.
Of course, not many blogs/influencers/online marketers will tell you how to actually get those 1000 true fans. Because that’s the hard part. Because no one wants to wait. But there’s no way around it. You can get 1000 fans in a heartbeat, of course, but they won’t be real. If you want 1000 true fans, you have to engage every single one of them individually, make them think of you as a friend or a guru of some sorts (please don’t give yourself that title, it’s obnoxious). When 1000 people truly trust you, then you’ve got your real fans. And if you haven’t figured it out by now, establishing trust through free quality content is what this whole post is about.
Now give it a good, hard thought, and tell me…
How good is your content? Would you follow it?