Social Media ~ What really counts as valuable content?

You have heard it a thousand times: Content is King.

But, in truth, content has no (true) value unless someone is prepared to pay hard cash for it.

The theory goes that the material has some value (unless it is complete nonsense/gobbledygook) and that the recipient will feel compelled to want to instruct the firm, either because they appear to know their subject area or no one else is filling a particular niche. This may be appear rather glib but I cannot conceive of any other reason why a firm would want to repeatedly put its reputation on the line.

I sense that too many people have been influenced by the law of increase or the work of Dr Robert Cialdini (see in particular his book Influence Science and Pratice, Pearson International, 5th edn.), hoping perhaps that they will see a flood of new instructions to correspond with the amount of effort, time and money they have put into generating the content.

[Q. I wonder how many firms consider the ROI of their content over the course of a year?]

Even if I am wrong in this assumption, then perhaps there is the thought that more material will lead to more work.

Chris Brogan recently started a new project called Human Business Works and one of the products on offer is a subscription based blog topics digest (a bit of a mouthful I know) where you pay a monthly fee to receive his thought provoking ideas. He has done something similar with Three Tribes Marketing although that also includes a regular link up by phone. He is not alone (now there’s a surprise!): Leo Barbauta who produces one of the most widely read personal development blogs Zen Habits has also put his name to a bloggers bootcamp which is subscription based.

And my point?

I wonder how many clients would be prepared to sign up for your newsletter, e-alert or whatever else it is you produce and PAY FOR THE PRIVILEGE OF RECEIVING IT?

For me the idea of a newsletter is not just about making money but rather adopting a mindset which is posited on the notion that, if asked, clients would be prepared to pay for my content even if it was fairly generic. If you are spending a lot of time and effort producing something which you believe is likely to save your clients money (or whatever message you are trying to convey), then why aren’t you charging them for it? Are you worried of the adverse PR if you ask for money? On the other hand, clients might actually think your content is more valuable and worth their time to read.

Perhaps you avoid the issue because you know your content is so middle-of-the road – in fact it downright lousy but you are too scared to change it just in case you miss out on a golden opportunity (fat chance I say). I am not suggesting that you change your business model and pretend you are a legal publisher but when you look at the material, surely there is a way of repackaging it so that you produce an offering that clients would be prepared to pay for? Of course you may be doing this indirectly at the moment where you bolt on an update, like employment, to your packaged service, but would the client pay for this as a stand alone item?

Next time you are cogitating about what to write perhaps the question to ask is “Would the client pay for it?” If the answer is a resounding NO then perhaps you should go back to basics, speak to a few clients to see what really floats their boat and then produce something that is so memorable that your clients will come knocking on your door for the next thrilling instalment.

~ JS ~

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