Are you using blog posts, infographics, and videos to advertise your products? You could be shooting yourself in the foot. Why? Let me ask you this. If somebody said they planned to monetize air, how would you react? That's right, it'd be insane. Air is everywhere. You can't monetize the ubiquitous. But using content to advertise your products is essentially the same thing. Don't buy it? Read on to find out why.
A Lesson from Post-Scarcity Economics
In the 1950s, an economist named Louis Kelso coined the term "post-scarcity." All economics is based on the idea that human wants are infinite, but resources are scarce in comparison. Kelso rejected this idea, suggesting that any form of scarcity can be overcome with sufficient technology. This, in turn, would cause that resource to become effectively free.
We're all aware of resources so numerous that they can't be monetized: things like air, dirt, ads.
Absolutely. To the consumer, ads are completely ubiquitous. Nobody in their right mind would pay to see an advertisement. Nowadays, we often pay not to see them.
Advertisements are built around the concept of a captive audience. We watch ads because they play during our favorite shows, they're spliced into our favorite magazines, and they play before our YouTube clips.
But your blog, your Facebook account, and your newsletter aren't captive audiences. They can leave whenever they want. And believe me, they will. Because when you try and force a non-captive audience to look at your ads, you are effectively asking them to pay for your ads with their time.
And that's not much different than asking them to pay for air.
So how can you possibly get consumers to spend their time looking at your content?
How to Make Content Sell Itself
All of economics is powered by scarcity. Content needs to be scarce in order for consumers to invest their time in it. And that means you need to start approaching content the same way you approach product.
You need to define your content's unique selling proposition.
And that's not easy. Content is everywhere. How can you set yourself apart? What can you do that nobody else is doing?
- Talk about a subject nobody else is talking about well
- Present information in a way that nobody else has presented it
- Find connections between subjects that nobody else has pointed out
- "Re-brand" a subject for a target audience that has never been introduced to it before
- Publish proprietary data or original research
- Make a subject more entertaining than it ever has been before
- Take a subject that's only been talked about theoretically and transform it into practical advice
- Take a fresh and interesting stance on a subject
- Interview experts and industry insiders
- Use a random word tool to spur your creativity
- Take a dense and complex subject and make it simple and interesting
You have to sell your content just as much as you have to sell your product. Don't get caught up in the old-fashioned notion that your content is "free." Consumers may not understand the "time value of money," but they understand when their time is being wasted. Don't do that to them. Give them a reason to keep coming back, to trust you, and to invest more than just their time in your brand.
Image credit: Chuck Coker