How Much Free Content is Too Much

A content marketing strategy involves creating free content like videos, articles, guides, podcasts and other easily consumable useful material. You can then deliver that content to your audience via social media, email or other digital channels. The aim is to help your potential customers with their goals and problems and in turn, build trust and authority.

The content should help your potential customers with their problems and reach their goals that are directly related to the products and services you offer.

If you create a lot of content then eventually at least some of your audience will purchase one of your products or subscribe to one of your services.

I get asked quite a lot, "How much is too much in terms of free content?" When should you stop giving stuff away and require someone to actually start paying for your services?

My answer to that is always the same: You can never give too much free content away.

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Some of your friends and colleagues may advise you not to give too much away for free because you have to value your time and your expertise. Personally, I don't think that's true because if you offer a very high-level product or service, it's not something you can just give away with individual pieces of content.

Your product or service needs to bring a lot of things together in a structured form that helps your customers in a more meaningful way than they can get with a bunch of free content. In other words, free content can only take someone so far before they'll need more comprehensive help.

Your real role as a coach

As a coach, it is not your job to create training plans, write athlete schedules, or to sell coaching products.

It should be your goal, as a coach, to take someone from where they are now to where they want to be in the future. You need to solve their problem for them to reach their ultimate goal -- their mountain top -- whatever it might be. It could be finishing an Ironman or qualifying for KONA. It could be running a marathon or running a marathon sub-three hours. Totally dependent on the customer's needs and desires.

What most coaches do, without any sort of content marketing, they try and take the customer from where they currently are to where they want to be by only offering paid products and services.

The coach is figuratively saying "I've got these products and services. If you want me to take you from where you are now to where you want to be, you have to pay me". Unfortunately for the coach, it's very difficult to make a sale to someone you haven't helped yet. They might know a little bit about you, but really, you're expecting them to make a purchase from someone they don't know, like, or trust very well. It's an uphill battler with extremely low success rates.

Content marketing timeline

Instead, if you think of this as a timeline -- we'll call our content marketing timeline -- which is the journey a customer takes from where they first are as they try to make it to their ultimate goal and along this timeline, you can create a bunch of free content. Running tips or strength tips. Some articles or video. Maybe, if you want to get more complex, an email course that takes them a mini-course designed to help them with a goal.

The beginning of the timeline is where the customer first comes into contact with you. Do not try and sell something at this point, this is the mistake most coaches make. Instead, offer free content and start to build trust and authority in the eyes of your potential customers.

As you go along this timeline, they are getting closer and closer to their goal as you continue to offer them free content. So, at some point, they are going to get to a place where they have made use of all your content -- it's really helped them, and they might get part of the way to their goal.

They will think to themselves "Man, I got to here with Dave's free advice. Dave's advice and content have helped me so much to get here, but I can't seem to get any further now. I can't get through that next barrier to get to my ultimate goal."

Presenting your paid products and services at the right time

It's at this point when your potential customer has gained a lot of value from your content but need something more to reach their ultimate goal that you should present your paid products and services.

In reality, most of the audience will consume only your free content and never move to a paid product or service, but that's ok. The great thing about creating free content and publishing it is that each new person that sees it doesn't cost you anything.

You don't have to worry about those people who don't convert to paying customers, sometimes they just aren't a good match for you. Sometimes those that don't convert straight away may still do some in the future.

people can take quite a long time to get to the point where they need or want your products and services. I've had people sign up for my coaching platform two years after they have consumed some of my free content. Often it's more about timing.

if you're trying to convince someone directly to buy your products and services without any content to help them come to know like and trust you then you only have a very small window of opportunity to make a hard sell.

The timeline of free content can be as long as you like which creates exponentially more opportunities for your potential customers to become paying customers.

Hopefully, that helps a bit to understand why there is no real "too much" of free content marketing. You should just keep going and going. Like I always say, being known, liked and trusted by more and more people is the key to growing your endurance coaching business.

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