We’ve known for centuries that the best way to grow your business or sell your product is to GET PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT YOU.

We literally call it “word-of-mouth” marketing, and it’s how entire empires are built.

I’m convinced that that if you really want to explode your business online, you have to give away your best content and advice for FREE.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but trust me when I say there is no shortage of case studies out there to draw from. In the business world, I’d have to say Gary Vaynerchuk is my favorite example. (More on him later.) His book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook lays out exactly how to execute this approach on various social media channels.

Also, it doesn’t just apply to business. Countless bands and solo musicians use platforms like NoiseTrade to give away their best music in exchange for the awareness and publicity it brings. Before the Internet, The Grateful Dead became famous for allowing fans to record and share free bootlegs of all their shows. (To date, the band has sold more than 35 million albums worldwide, not to mention ticket sales from live concerts, merchandise, etc.)

Risk vs. Reward

It sounds scary: “What am I supposed to sell if I’m giving away all my best content for free?”

At the same time, we all know the best way to grow your business is by accumulating these five things:

  • Authority
  • Credibility
  • Trust
  • Likability
  • Referrals

There is no faster way to GET PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT YOU than by creating phenomenal content that has no barrier to entry (i.e. free!), is easy to consume and comes ready-made to share.

Giving your best tips, strategies and advice away for free builds instant TRUST with your audience. You’re not asking for anything in return beyond a few moments of their time. It also demonstrates your AUTHORITY and CREDIBILITY when people find value and benefit from what you’re sharing. If you insert your personality into your content like Gary Vaynerchuk and countless others do, it also makes increases the LIKABILITY of you and your brand for prospects and potential clients before they even meet you in person! Lastly, it leads to REFERRALS, because people will share content that makes them look smart or that they think their audience will find valuable.

Look, these days, way too many people are CLAIMING authority and credibility without PROVING it. Sure, you can call yourself a “LinkedIn Expert” or “B2B Marketing Guru,” but so can everybody else. Instead, you need to PROVE to others that you know your stuff.

The “Gary Vee” Experience

As promised, here’s more about Gary Vaynerchuk. I first came across Gary via his legendary YouTube videos. His passion, business insight and entertainment value had me hooked right away. (Warning: Gary’s foul mouth would make a hardened sailor blush!)

Beginning in 2008 with the video above, I starting consuming all of his FREE content – videos, blog posts, Tweets, infographics – as voraciously as I could.

By the time Gary’s books started coming out, I probably already knew everything that was in them, but I bought them anyway. I also told anyone who would listen how great this guy was. I believe all three of Gary’s books are now New York Times Bestsellers. He also went from a guy doing free videos on YouTube to someone who allegedly commands $70,000 for a keynote speech.

That’s what Content Marketing is all about – you give away your best stuff for FREE, and it ends up attracting MORE paying customers as a result!

Speaking of Content Marketing, I found it eye-opening that LinkedIn recently shared this on its official blog:

You can’t state it more plainly that that, can you?

So how about it? Do you believe in this approach of “giving away” your best tips, insight and content for FREE as a marketing tool? Why or why not?

Let me know what you think in the comments!