Most successful professional services and B2B businesses today have embraced content marketing. No other marketing approach is as well suited to the way modern buyers find, research and select their service and product providers. And it’s not going away anytime soon.
But coming up with valuable content ideas that convert qualified web visitors into leads can be a real challenge. In this blog post, we explore seven types of valuable content, from simple ideas you can implement right away to more sophisticated materials designed to build your reputation.
What Is Valuable Content?
In a content marketing program, valuable content is a premium, high-value piece of content that an interested website visitor will be willing to download in exchange for their email address and, perhaps, other personal or business information. Unlike free content—such as blog posts—valuable content can only be accessed by filling out a web form. These individuals then become new contacts on your email list who you can (with their consent) nurture with additional valuable content and relevant offers.
Over time, many of these contacts will come to trust your expertise. And when they need help with their business, they will seek you out as the trusted expert they think of first. That’s the beauty of content marketing.
7 Valuable Content Ideas
Newsletters—Perhaps the most common type of valuable content, a newsletter is an easy way to build your list. Make sure you keep on a regular schedule and fill it with educational material. This is not the place to introduce new employees or share holiday party photos. A newsletter should educate. To capture the most people, keep your form as short as possible—just an email field if possible.
Checklists / Tools—Business people are always looking for simple tools that can help them address their problems. Checklists, templates, spreadsheets and similar materials are easy to produce and appeal to web visitors who are interested in your services. These materials allow people to experience your expertise in a unique and interactive way.
Webinar Recordings—If you already conduct webinars, consider turning one or more of them into a downloadable or streaming piece of content. It’s a simple, low-friction way for web visitors to see and hear your experts without the commitment of a live consultation. To make your webinars even more compelling, consider partnering with a subject matter expert who can bring an added dimension to your presentation.
White Papers / Executive Guides—While there is no generally accepted definition of these terms and they are often used interchangeably, we will make a distinction between white papers and executive guides. White papers are often technical in nature and speak to decision-makers in middle management who are tasked with solving complex operational problems. Executive Guides, on the other hand, address top executives, usually in the C-suite, who make strategic decisions that will affect the course of their businesses. Guides are generally written in less technical language but still explore an issue in significant depth. White papers and guides generally run 10 to 40 pages in length.
Mini Courses—People’s demand for free resources to educate themselves is a top driver of content marketing’s success. An on-demand mini course is an ideal way to teach your audience about a problem you solved or how to address a common challenge. This is not a multi-hour training program. Instead, it should be easy to consume. At its simplest, it could be a single video, 20- to 60-minutes long, Or it could be three or four units, each running 10 to 20 minutes. Some organizations spread access to a multi-part mini course over time, sending out links to each unit over the course of a few days or weeks. However you deliver it, it doesn’t have to be fancy. It could be as simple as a Zoom screen recording with slides and a voiceover. Or you can invest in higher production values for a polished look.
eBooks—This term is used to describe a wide range of online written materials. In this article, however, we mean book-length content: 50 pages or more. When you write about a topic at this level of depth, the perceived value of the content is very high. And if the ebook is high quality, many readers will take it very seriously, even study it. The credibility a book can add to your firm’s reputation is inestimable.
Research Reports—Research can be one of the most powerful ways to build your audience—and your thought leadership credentials. If this sounds daunting, you should know that you don’t have to conduct a research study yourself—or even conduct one at all. You actually have several options:
Custom research—This is what probably came to your mind first: a big original research study on a topic of significant interest to your audience. Original research can be a huge boon to organizations that want to build credibility fast and have the time and budget to bring it to fruition. While it is possible to conduct a research study yourself, it requires specialized expertise to pull off a valid and insightful study. You would be better off working with an experienced research partner, especially one that knows your industry.
Sponsored research—If you can find the right research partner and get the timing right, you may be able to sponsor an upcoming study—one they were going to conduct anyway. You pay a fee to put your logo on the cover, and you get most of the benefits that come with the launch of a brand new study of your own. You get to promote the report to your list as if it were your own research and use the data in blog posts, social media, speaking engagements and more. That’s big benefits for very little effort.
Licensed research—This approach is identical to sponsored research except that it applies to older, existing research studies. You select a study from the research firm’s library, pay a licensing fee, and you get access to the study and its data for a specified period of time. Licensing existing research typically costs much less than sponsoring an upcoming study. And you usually get access to your report quickly—even within a few days.
These are just a few examples of valuable content that you can use to generate high-quality leads. The more you put into these materials, the more your audience will get out of them—and the more likely they will be to think of you as a true expert in your field.
One last bit of advice: Don’t be afraid to give away your expertise. If you don’t do it, somebody else will. Even if someone were to read your 400-page book, that would not make them an expert themselves. But they would be more inclined to trust your expertise when they have an urgent need.
How Hinge Can Help
Hinge has developed a comprehensive plan, The Visible Firm® to address these issues and more. It is the leading marketing program for delivering greater visibility, growth, and profits. This customized program will identify the most practical offline and online marketing tools your firm will need to gain new clients and reach new heights.