Ever have a friend who contacts you only when they want something?
It’s ironic how this behavior is frowned on in personal relationships, but it’s commonplace for brands you’ve never heard of to repeatedly ask you to buy their product.
This approach is rarely successful because it’s perceived as desperate. These sales pitches become “noise” to consumers, and brands who employ these tactics typically have low conversion rates and zero to negative word-of-mouth. The exception is brands that lead with huge discounts, which they frequently offer because they’re unable to win on factors other than price.
In an ideal world, when you ask people to buy your product or service, you want them to perceive the purchase as a fair trade (or better yet, a trade in their favor). That is, you’ve added so much value to their lives over a long period of time that when the time comes for you to promote your product (or ask them to purchase again), they feel like it’s a fair deal rather than an imposition.
How Do Brands Add Value?
Outside of the actual products they sell, brands can provide value in a multitude of ways.
For the purposes of this post, though, we’re focusing on content. When brands consistently publish relevant content that is helpful and entertaining to their target audience, that’s a winning recipe. (Here’s an infographic I saved from 2012 that details different types of content that people love.)
Browse all of the free content that brands like Red Bull, Beardbrand, Chanel, and Hubspot publish. When companies make these investments, the payoff is not always immediate, but relationships don’t work that way. The value from this investment is realized over time in the form of:
- Goodwill: It’s human nature to do business with people you like.
- Self-identification: People often buy products because of what the purchase says about them. Content helps define your brand identity.
- Differentiation: Stand out in a crowded market with content that is distinctive from your competitors.
- Forgiveness: When your company makes a mistake, you are more likely to receive the benefit of the doubt if you’ve built a relationship with your customers.
- Credibility: If people believe you have their best interests in mind, they will trust your product more.
If an investment in content seems daunting, that’s understandable. Keep in mind, though, that your content does not need to be original, although that’s preferable. Spend time curating interesting articles, posts, and videos from a variety of sources to save people time. That’s valuable.
Just don’t start with blatant sales pitches and expect positive results.