The Value of Content To A Business Marketer

Re- written from July 2009

An interesting piece published July 6th 2009 by Malcolm Gladwell, titled ‘Priced To Sell’, looks at “FREE” and the value of content & ideas. It’s a very useful read for the average small to medium sized business marketer.

In it Gladwell questions some of Chris Anderson’s theories [Wired Magazine and The Long Tail fame] on free products and services. Says Anderson, “…an ability to participate in Journalism extends beyond the credentialed halls of traditional media. Journalism as a profession will share the stage with journalism as an avocation.”  What Anderson is saying is digital storage, processing and bandwidth costs are so low that there’s no longer any ‘barrier to entry’ for content creation.

What he is also, indirectly, suggesting is that by sharing good content & ideas with a target- market for “FREE” a business can trigger interest for its’ actual paid- for business products or services! With the cost of distribution to people who search, who social network and who subscribe being negligible, we’d argue publishing ‘useful advertorial information on subjects a business is authoritative for’ is actually less an avocation than it is a modern business responsibility! Ultimately a business can create & distribute it’s advertorial message without any time limit = it can remain on the worldwide web forever and it can do it at a negligible cost. Versus the cost of traditional advertising, a business is either sharing useful and timely product / service knowledge for consumers to find OR … missing the boat on how those same consumers are actually evaluating future purchases.

However, time, effort and intellectual capital have cost. Entrusting them in any form of content to FREE host, communication or advertising services has downside. Gladwell doesn’t necessarily argue for or against these points so much as he questions them. Cautioning AGAINST FREE Gladwell says, “Free removes the necessity of aesthetic judgment.” Using Youtube as an example he asks, “So how does YouTube bring in revenue? Well, it tries to sell advertisements alongside its hosted videos. The problem is that the business’ video may not only be surrounded by various forms of less- desirable user-generated content, but also the sort of advertising it would NOT want to be near- to or associated with. Gladwell certainly makes interesting arguments any serious business person should consider.

By all means, give ‘Priced To Sell a quick read! 

Disintermediation: Brand Direct To Target Audiencedisintermediation | kinetic knowledge

Note: this post originally written November 2007, updated today – August 21st 2012!

Consider the value of a website, including its’ blog, as a powerful marketing & advertising tool VERSUS what existed as options in the past. Nowadays the distribution of a brand via content (advertorial in nature) to a targeted audience is no longer cost prohibitive AND no longer solely in the control of large traditional media companies. A recent phenomena, sometimes referred to as disintermediation, allows a business to reach its’ audience immediately! Inexpensively!! defines disintermediation as ‘giving the consumer direct access to information that otherwise would require a mediator, such as a salesperson, a librarian, or a lawyer.’ For the purposes of this post “mediator” means Newspapers, TV Broadcasters, Magazines & large web- based media… all of whom were once a necessity to distribute your message, but NOW you can go direct!

In fact because of reliable search and social networks there’s nothing stopping a business from distributing useful advertorial information to its’ target market.

Blogs As FREE Marketing

Blogs make publishing content cheap and simple. In addition to a ‘rapid publish to the web capability’, it can call to search engines for rapid indexing. Nowadays content is free to go wherever it’s needed. Any consumer has the choice to search, socialize and, in some cases, subscribe. By taking advantage of the opportunity the business is no longer forced to depend upon large media intermediaries. That’s right, a business may actually reduce marketing and advertising cost while reaching prospective clients direct.

Not to say traditional advertising is dead by any stretch. CBS, the New York Times or even a local newspapers’ audience remain loyal, but to invade that connection requires an ad’ and it costs a lot of money. Now with a little effort a business can reach customers direct and without traditional media intermediaries; they can repeatedly touch clients & prospects with great new information – direct! We’re saying it’s a leveled playing field for the distribution of information! Consumers no longer need to stumble upon your ad in order to be informed about what you have to offer.