Why Content Marketing Works

by Joe Fontenot

Why Content Marketing Works

Content marketing is when you give away a lot (sometimes most) of your content for free.

The idea here is to build trust.

The power behind content marketing is that once people trust your brand, they buy.

While content marketing is most often associated with writing, it really works for most forms of media. The key is to make sure that you’re putting out quality.

But giving away a ton of free (and high quality) stuff makes a lot of content producers nervous. What if they don’t buy when I offer for sale?

But it’s not a strict linear cut-off from free to paid.

The difference between paid and free

Successful content marketers change their paid content, but only just a little. If you’re already offering great quality, the shift doesn’t have to be much. But the difference does have to be there.

For instance, if you create videos, you may put 90% of them on YouTube for free. But then you can create a special video (longer or more focused or more in depth). If you’ve created a following that values your work, that tweak is often all that’s needed to move from free to paid.

This works because of two reason:

First, you’ve built up a trust base with your audience. They know and like you–and, most importantly, they want more from you. And second, people need some kind of justification (even if small) to switch from free to paid.

There was a famous experiment Ellen Langer (professor of psychology at Harvard) published in 1978 that illustrates this.

She simply had people ask to cut in line at the copy machine. And their success rate was around 60%.

However, when the cutters gave a reason (even as simple as “because I need to make a copy”), the success rate jumped to 94%.

Content marketing depends on your “because”

People need a “because.”

When you make a slight tweak to your content, attach a “this is paid because” message to it, you are giving your audiences’ brain the justification it needs to get more of what they want.

If you change your content too much, you risk watering down your free stuff or baiting and switching your audience when they do bite.