Content marketing is all about exchanging value: you have to give your buyers something good to get information in return.
When you give something away, it fosters positive feelings, and the recipient will be more inclined to return the favor. However, many content marketers ignore this basic principle. We want to grow our email lists, so we ask for contact information without first proving that we deserve it, without fostering trust. With this mentality, we ultimately miss out on fantastic opportunities.
Here are three simple methods for giving first, and leveraging the power of reciprocity to generate new leads.
1. Assess the Situation
“Content marketing is all about exchanging value.” @jhaynam
There was a marketer who started out small. In order to get new leads in the door, he would offer a free 15-minute phone call to anyone interested. No obligations. The strategy worked, and his practice grew rapidly. Even as time got tighter, this marketer never stopped offering free consultations, and continued to give away his time doing assessments even as his business generated millions in revenue. Nearly every person he assessed became a customer, and they told their friends about the amazing experience they had.
These potential customers received the most valuable asset anyone can give—time. And the marketer didn’t devalue that time by pushing a purchase. In return for that act, they felt not only obligated to return the favor, but that they had developed a connection with the marketer that other companies had not fostered.
You’ve spent thousands of hours becoming an expert in your field, so offer a bit of your time for free and watch the connections (and new customers) grow.
2. Test Visitors’ Knowledge
Skilledup has an amazing guide on using Microsoft Excel that may just be the most exhaustive resource on the subject that exists today. It’s so good that the page receives more than 40,000 visits a month. Even more impressive, this page generates more than 600 new email subscribers for Skilledup every single month by using a quiz to test browsers’ knowledge of Excel.
A quiz uses the same principle of an assessment to get new email leads. By providing personalized, expert information for free, Skilledup is giving their time to help out the visitor, without asking for anything up front. Then, in return for information about how to improve at excel, they simply ask for an email address.
“Give away your expertise first, and ask for an email address second.” @jhaynam.
You can do the same thing in any niche. Think about the questions you would ask in a phone assessment and turn them into a quiz. Give away your expertise first, and ask for an email address second.
3. Partner Up
Buffer is famed for the method they used to get 100,000 users on board in less than a year. Co-Founder Leo Widrich wrote more than 60 articles on using social media effectively and distributed them to publications whose visitors could benefit from the information. By giving away his knowledge for free, without asking for anything first, Leo was able to drive an amazing number of people to explore his service and sign up.
Add value first, ask for a sign-up second. By providing strong writing pieces around the web, Buffer was able to grow their brand exposure and drive signups. They didn’t ask for signups directly, but rather provided thought leadership on relevant, compelling topics.
Reciprocity is powerful. We love it when someone else takes the first step and provides value before asking for anything in return. Whether you use your own knowledge to provide assessments, either in-person or through a quiz, or provide value by partnering up with other websites and giving away your writing, always be the first to provide value, and then ask for a lead in return.