Martin (not his real name) emailed me with a great question. I promised to answer it here, as it’s a marketing problem that a lot of people struggle with.
He wanted to know why only a tiny fraction of his newsletter subscribers ever hire him. Martin’s an experienced, professional copywriter. It’s important to point out that I looked at Martin’s newsletter and it’s superb. His range of services look compelling too.
He explained: “They grab all my free advice Jim, but lack the decency to even say thanks for the hours I put in. I’m just about ready to quit.”
Martin wanted to know if I have the same problem and how I deal with it. Here’s my answer. I hope you find it useful.
This is exactly as it should be
First things first. This happens to everyone who uses content marketing. And the more successful you become, the more visible the issue becomes. I know the writers behind some of the world’s most successful newsletters and blogs. In every case, it’s only a tiny minority of their readers who hire them, buy from them or thank them.
And that’s EXACTLY as it should be.
Most people who read this message have zero intention of ever hiring me. A tiny percentage will even bother to thank me for the free information I provide to them. The vast majority just grab it. They have no interest in the thousands of dollars I spend every year, to get the “free” advice out there. No thought is given to the fact I help their business. They just take.
And that’s EXACTLY as it should be.
Why? Because it’s what they’re supposed to do! Remember, these people are not the prospective clients I write for.
These are the amateurs. The freebie crowd. Those who lack the entrepreneurial sense to invest in expert help. So they’re attracted to “free stuff” like moths to a flame. (read this)
You can’t use content marketing and not expect to attract them. You can’t ask people to subscribe to a free newsletter (or free anything) and not be inundated with freebie hunters. To think otherwise is naive.
Expect the freebie crowd to arrive. BUT never write for them. I don’t write for the freebie crowd. Neither should Martin. And neither should you.
- I write for people who take their business seriously.
- I write for people who are commercially intelligent enough to invest in their businesses.
- I write for people who have respect for themselves and for others.
To put it another way, I write for professionals. Professionals are the people who show appreciation for your work. They’re the people who hire you. They totally get it.
Where it gets tricky is this: Professionals are ALSO attracted by free stuff. That’s why content marketing is extremely effective, when used correctly.
Content marketing and intent
The key difference between the 2 types of people who consume your content can be summed up in one word. Intent.
- When a professional consumes your content, they do so with an open mind to hiring you or buying from you. If they see enough value, they’ll get in touch or make a purchase. These amazing people contact me throughout the day, every day. Sometimes to ask about hiring me. Sometimes to say thanks. Sometimes to tell me how my ideas have helped them overcome a problem.
- When an amateur consumes your content, they don’t have that same intent. The amateur sees the free stuff as the end result. It’s the much mentioned entitlement mindset. That’s why they never bother to thank Martin, me or any other content marketer. They believe they’re entitled to it.
Once you understand the intent behind the 2 groups of people who consume your content, everything makes sense. It also frees your mind to focus on generously contributing to the marketplace.