One of the greatest objections to content marketing which I’ve heard repeatedly is this:
Wouldn’t content marketing erode my competitive advantage?
After all, you would be giving away truck loads of valuable content for FREE. And that may reduce the need for your prospects, leads or potential customers to approach you for help.
Do Content Gifts Create Competition?
Well, let’s look at it this way.
A surgeon can give away his scalpel, his medical texts, and his bottles of medications. However, that does not make the recipient of his largesse a surgeon.
A lawyer can give away public case files, statutes, and legal textbooks. However, that does not make her reader a lawyer.
An engineer can give away basic blueprints to designing machines, engineering texts, and process maps. However, that does not make the avid consumer of technical information an engineer.
An executive chef can give away his favourite recipes, kitchen utensils, and sources of fresh ingredients. However, that does not make the person receiving his gifts a chef.
A fashionista can give away style guides, matching fashion tips, and aids to accessorising. However, that does not make her beneficiary the next supermodel.
The thing is this. Expertise and credibility takes years and years to build up and hone. Mastery does not come from reading an eBook or 3.
Or from watching that 5 minute training video which you’ve just uploaded to YouTube.
Content Marketing Builds Trust
On the flip side, what could your acts of generosity do for your business?
(Maybe not the metal tools themselves – it’s dangerous to walk around with a scalpel or kitchen knife – but certainly the occasional tips and techniques that you share.)
For a start, you are helping to educate your potential patients, clients and diners on what goes on behind those closed doors. This helps to allay their fear, reduce their perception of risk, and lowers anxiety. It also increases trust.
Content Marketing Amplifies Delight
What about your existing patients, clients or customers?
Well, targeted and helpful content may actually increase customer satisfaction and delight. It shows that you care enough about them after the transaction.
Imagine receiving an email or whatsapp from your doctor, giving you hints on what to eat/ what to avoid after a major operation.
Or a photography tip of the week from the camera shop where you just bought a spiffy new Canon DSLR?
How would that make you feel? I bet that it would transform your experience from satisfaction to delight.
Content Marketing Fosters Likability
In a world swarming with competitive products and services, your customers will be more discerning in their choices. They will evaluate your offerings with a skeptical eye. They will compare your track record against your competitors.
In such a market, the only way to stand out is to build social currency and demonstrate social proof. This is where useful, educational and valuable content comes in.
The more value you give, the more they’ll like you. The more they like you, the higher the chances of them sharing what you’ve got to offer, and giving your business a chance. (You can read more about building likeable businesses here.)
Which brings us to the final point about content marketing.
Content Marketing Increases Reciprocity
Now that you’ve won their trust, improved delight, and made your brand more likable, what would your prospects or customers do?
If they are like the majority of decent human beings out there, they may reciprocate by giving you their business.
One of the six weapons of influence, reciprocity is the simple act of repaying good with good. The more goodwill you provide to a person, the higher the likelihood that he will give your business a chance.
Of course, not everybody would eventually become your customer. Which is perfectly fine, so long as they continue to be a part of your community and help you to get the word out there.
A Recipe for the Digital Age
In the digital and social age, the four engines of trust, delight, likability and reciprocity powers commerce. And the most cost-effective way to ignite these four engines is to create, curate and disseminate valuable content.
Do you agree that content marketing does not erode your brand or business? I’ll love to hear your views!