Last week I posted about the value of free content vs putting a gate that requires an email address and other personal information to get the content. Many people commented about my strategy of totally free content on my post Really, Truly, Actually Free Content and on social media. Today, I am sharing the results of one free content offer, an ebook that has generated millions of dollars in new business for the author.
Ted Page, Co-Founder and Principal of Captains of Industry, a creative marketing consultancy based in Boston, wrote an ebook ten years ago titled Branding and marketing for renewable energy companies: How to look like the billion dollar company you can become. I spoke with Ted back then and encouraged him to make the ebook completely free with no registration.
Ted’s ebook rose to the top of the search results for phrases related to the branding and marketing of renewable energy companies because it had a ton of valuable insights and depth and it was totally free with no strings attached.
And, remarkably, the SEO has remained strong with the ebook remaining on the top of Google even a ten years after it was published.
Ted tells me that this ebook consistently generates sales leads. People read it and then reach out to Captains. Just a few weeks ago the agency got an inquiry from a clean energy company that needs marketing services.
“This ebook is the longest tail of anything we’ve done,” Ted says. “And it’s still wagging a decade later!”
Free content leads to new business
Not only does the ebook draw in inquiries, Ted reports that in situations where a potential client is considering multiple agencies Captains nearly always wins. “Finding the ebook at the top of page one search results, and then reading it,” Ted says, “helps the client see us as the trusted authority on renewable energy branding and marketing—which is a big plus in the risk-averse energy sector.”
Contrast Ted’s approach to the more widely accepted method of putting a gate on the content and then having salespeople call the “leads”.
Ebooks have tremendous perceived value and therefore people tend to pass them on. They help solve problems and therefore buyers appreciate the content, branding the writer as someone worth doing business with.
“I'm thrilled that the renewable energy branding/marketing ebook is still number one after all this time and I find it fascinating that the ideas are evergreen,” Ted told me. “So much of the web and social media is inherently transient, but one important truth I've learned is that the ideas that are the most valuable over time are not trendy. Fads come and go. But if you stick to core principles and you express them well, people keep seeking them out and sharing them; so in a way it's the people using the content who are evergreen because there are always fresh new readers discovering it.”
Next week I plan to post some specific advice for how you can create an ebook of your own.