Your Content is So Good that I Can’t Tell How You Make Money

valuable original content

Make your marketing content so valuable and so good that readers can’t tell how you make money. Here are three examples of a new kind of valuable content.

What if you removed every trace of self-serving-ness from your marketing content? What if you filled your blog, white papers, newsletters and technical articles with content that completely benefited your readers, with no apparent benefit to you?

Would your boss let you publish it?

Thanks for the content. What’s in it for you?

I happened onto a blog a couple of months ago run by Joe Hage, an expert in medical device marketing. It includes interviews with industry analysts, reviews of social media tools, announcements about conferences, medical device compliance information, and ideas gleaned from other online marketing experts.

I had read his posts for about five minutes when the question popped into my head:

How does this guy make money?

The content was that good, and it was almost completely devoid of apparent self-promotion.

Of course, after a few more minutes, I fell off of the blog and onto his site. His About, Services and Contact pages made it pretty clear how he makes money, but this follows the natural order of valuable content: Let your readers consistently enjoy the full value of what you publish, and when they one day feel an itch, they know whom to call to scratch it.

Other examples:

  • Copyblogger – The pre-eminent site for content marketing. Daily posts from Copyblogger staff and contributors embody clear thinking about online marketing, and the site itself embodies very strong content marketing. Follow it for a while and see whether you can tell how they make money: Consulting? Software for WordPress? Instructional products?
  • The Grateful Dead – David Meerman Scott has co-authored an entire book called Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead. He often cites the way in which the band encouraged fans to tape and photograph their concerts, then trade tapes and photos with other fans. With fans enjoying this much value, plenty of them were surely asking how the band made money; when fans felt the itch, they scratched it by paying for concert tickets.
  • Obsolete TV Support Group video – This Fortune 500 company has an important point to make in this video, but they camouflage it quite artistically behind an entertaining skit. Watch it, and see if you don’t find yourself asking, “Which company made this, and what does it have to do with how they make money?”

A new definition of “valuable content”

This is different from divulging all the secrets of your success. It’s easy to find experts on the Web who are giving away everything you need to know to be as successful as they are. Their content does completely benefit you, but it’s mostly advice. People will keep coming back for good stories and good information, but advice can get tiresome.

It’s a new definition of “valuable content”: Content that benefits your readers, with no apparent benefit to you.

It’s like the content that religions and governments provide, except that you actually want it, and you’re not suspicious of it.

Do you think you could do it? How would your readers react?

photo credit: Beck Tench


Author: John White

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a content marketing writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Content Marketing Writer.”

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