Is content marketing – giving away free special reports, white papers, e-books, blog posts, and other useful content to potential customers – all it’s cracked up to be?

Content Marketing

Well, I use it and continue to make it an important part of my marketing mix but I think many marketers have this mistaken belief that somehow content marketing is the end all and be all.

It ain’t. Nor is it new – even though the “content marketing gurus” would like you to believe it’s shiny like a new dime.

Free information offers, the old school term, can work well.

But, like anything, it has its limits.

Offering free content is great for generating inquiries. Who doesn’t like to get free stuff?  And it helps educate prospects on how to buy your type of product or service.

For example, say you offer a free report “7 Things to Look for When Hiring a Landscaper. Naturally, your landscaping service meets all 7 requirements spelled out in the report. The idea is, that after reading the report, homeowners will be more likely to hire you than your competitors who do not line up closely with the requirements you laid out.

However, if all you do is give away free content, you’re going to have skinny kids

It’s important to keep in mind, you are in the business of SELLING, not giving away free stuff.

Your prospect is there to buy, not merely to be educated.

You also have to sell him on why he should buy your product or service versus all the other alternatives – including doing nothing.

That takes copywriting.

At some point in the interaction, in order to close the sale, your prospect must receive a communication containing copy that (1) highlights your product’s unique advantages over the competition, (2) overcomes his objections, (3) proves that your product is a superior solution for his problems, and (4) convinces him you are a trusted, reliable supplier.

That has not, nor will it ever, change.

One of the appeals of content marketing is that it’s a lot easier – and less threatening – to pump out content than having to write copy that sells or ***GULP** actually, get out and sell in person.

After all, sitting down and writing a blog post about a thought or tip you had beats trying to convince a qualified prospect to buy your product or service when he is objecting that your price is too high – or he thinks your competitor is just as good as you are.

Against that type of pushback, the garden variety content marketer melts.

For copywriters and salespeople, these are challenges they confront daily. It’s what they get paid for.

Bottom line: content marketing plays an important supporting role in your marketing. But nothing really happens until you sell something.

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