One of the problems business people have with the idea of content marketing is that they can’t understand why they should give something away for nothing.
Content marketing is all about helping people — answering questions they have and trying to solve their problems, even if that doesn’t directly result in business. Why, some firms ask, would we possibly want to do that?
I read an interesting post the other day by Conor Witt on Medium, entitled Please Take My Money. The article is about a firm I know well — Ritholtz Wealth Management in New York City. RWM, effectively, is a business built on content. It puts out several pieces of content every day, always well written and brimming with insight. Its key staff members are also active on social media, sharing not just their own content but also content from other advice firms that have a similar outlook.
RWM’s best-known blogger — Josh Brown, aka the Reformed Broker — says the idea is to get to a point where prospective investors say: “I know who this guy is, I know what his philosophy is. Please take my money.” And the strategy is working. RWM has assembled around $500M in assets under management in just four years and was recently confirmed as the fourth fastest growing advice firms in the United States by Financial Advisor Magazine.
There is, in fact, scientific evidence behind what firms like Ritholtz Wealth Management are doing. In his famous book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini writes about the principle of reciprocity. From a very early age, we learn the convention that if someone does something for us, we should do something in return. Given a choice between two firms, one that’s done nothing for us and another whose content has genuinely aided our understanding of a particular subject, we instinctively plump for the latter.
In the same book, Cialdini also explains how people are much more likely to be persuaded by firms that exude authority, as well as by people they like. Again, the content that Ritholtz puts out helps on both of those counts.
Conor sums it up like this:
“By demonstrating who you are and providing value to others on a regular basis with no expectation of something in return, you build trust and respect which compounds over time. In the case of the team mentioned above, they have built a community of loyal followers (and likely friends, in many cases). The ultimate cost of acquiring a customer can be driven down dramatically by emulating a process similar to that of RWM.”
So, don’t rush into hiring an extra salesperson. Take a leaf out of RWM’s book and invest in content instead. And remember, you need to give to receive.