Martha Spelman Content Marketing: Why Free Offers Work

I like free stuff.

Free apps. Free food. Free samples. The free version.

Free ideas.

Almost everyday I get, as I’m sure you do, at least one email solicitation from some company that says it can help my business. In this email, a company representative tells me that I can get more business, improve my financial situation, run a better operation, be more productive, achieve greater success etc., etc. — if I just hire them or buy their product. This is the company’s stab at content marketing.

What don’t they tell me? The specific action they’d take to improve my business.

If this emailer were practicing true content marketing, he or she would give me some helpful piece of information that I could implement and actually achieve (at least in part) what they’re talking about. Tell me how to do whatever they would do that will truly improve my sales, marketing, financial, product, services, supply chain, operations or human resources situation. Not all of it. Just a little something to convince me they actually can help me.

Now, a lot of people will say, “I’m not telling my customers how to do what I do — they’ll just do it themselves and never hire me.”

What are they really saying? “They should just trust me to deliver what I say I’ll deliver.” Wouldn’t it be more persuasive if the emailer told you what to do? If it worked, you’d trust them more — possibly enough to hire them or buy from them. If it doesn’t work, well then, perhaps what they were selling wasn’t so game-changing after all.

Companies like Hubspot and NewsCred (and yours truly) provide tons of helpful information on how to improve one’s content marketing. Adobe’s is loaded with information targeted to CMOs but beneficial to any organization that markets. Deloitte offers research, news and How-to Guides (all free) geared towards finance, accounting and auditing.’s blog targets job seekers and employers alike. Sheila’s Blog on offers advice ranging from Parenting Tips, Senior Care, Pet Care, tips on relationships and housekeeping — even advice on how to start your own “Caregiver” company. Take a look at Kapost’s “Top 50 B2B Marketers” for more examples and ideas.

The ideal content marketing “pitch” isn’t really a pitch at all. It’s an offer of helpful, valuable advice that’s relevant to the audience. It’s educational, sometimes entertaining and always engaging. And it’s free.

The pitch is implied — if you like what they have to say, if it’s helpful and works, you’re more likely to buy.

If, in fact, you do decide to give away some of your “secret sauce” business advice, it will act as an introduction to your business, increase your credibility and build trust in your company. Plus, your prospective customers may realize, once they try to do what you do, they should hire you…after all, you’re the expert.

So go and free-ly distribute your business-building advice! Content marketing that helps, not sells, is the way to convince customers that yours is the company they should hire or buy from.