Why Free Content Matters
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Why Free Content Matters

Why big brands offer free content

Trick question. If your company uses blogging, social media channels or email campaigns to reach customers, should you spend any time writing content that doesn’t directly have an “ask”?

Yes, and some very big brands are doing just that.

  • The Petco Community offers tips on taking care of your beloved pets.
  • The Home Depot blog tells you how to choose fertilizers or caulk your sink.
  • The REI Co-op Journal explains how to clean your bike chain, choose a tent, or care for your climbing rope. It also shares human interest stories about active people.
  • Vanguard uses its blog to give advice on 401(k) plans, personal finance, and paying for college.

Why are brands across industries writing about stuff that’s not specifically focused on promoting their products or services? Because it can generate sales.

Here’s the thing. Many brands follow the 80/20 rule. That means that 80% of the content should focus on what matters to customers, helping them find answers and solve problems. The other 20% is content that promotes your brand.

It’s kind of like those free snacks you get at Trader Joe’s or Costco. You probably wouldn’t have bought that fancy cheese if someone had yelled “Buy it!” without letting you taste it first.

So consider the value of free content as you plan your marketing strategy. It might be worth the effort.

Note: I wrote a different version of this post, which originally appeared on the San Diego American Marketing Association website.

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Bonnie Nicholls
Bonnie Nicholls is a thought leadership content writer specializing in white papers, case studies, articles and blog posts. She supports industries such as health, energy, talent acquisition, leadership training and Agile/Scrum.