Should You Sell Your Brand's Content?
The conventional wisdom among marketers is that trying to sell your branded content is a bad idea. If even the media is struggling to make people pay for content, why should brands even try? But with more brands selling eBooks online, maybe it’s time to rethink the conventional wisdom.
In a recent post, David Wogahn names McKinsey Global Institute and the American Society of Golf Course Architects as two companies that are selling their eBooks on Amazon, while also offering them for free through their website in PDF format.
Compared to PDF eBooks, “commercial” eBooks—with their Kindle and Nook-friendly formats—are easier to read on smartphones and tablets and to integrate with social networks, Wogahn notes. And of course, commercial eBooks can be found on Amazon, which is starting to rival Google as a content marketplace.
Wogahn’s post is an eye-opener, but I think he might be thinking a bit small when it comes to the potential for eBooks to change the game for content marketing. The commercialization trend suggests that “eBook buyers are willing to pay for the convenience and improved functionality of these eBooks,” Wogahn writes. But he also says:
“For these publishers, repurposing their content as paid eBooks is more about finding a new audience then it is about revenue generation.”
Perhaps it is. But let’s not forget that companies have long been offering content as a means of “revenue generation.” Many consultancies sell their industry reports, for example. And what is the media but a bunch of big companies that sell content supported by advertising and subscriptions?
The best reason to sell your content, of course, is to recoup directly at least some of your costs for producing it. But there are other reasons:
Your audience will value it more highly. Most of us are conditioned to believe that free stuff is worth what we pay for it. Similarly, free eBooks can be confused with “just marketing.” (When I was a kid, I had an uncle who made me pay him a quarter every time I asked for his advice. Why? Because then at least I’d pay attention!)
Your organization will work harder to improve its quality. Is your organization tempted to produce brochure-ware rather than content with real value? Knowing your content will come with a price tag increases the incentive to “put the good stuff in there.”
It could increase (not decrease) your exposure. You can offer your eBook for free, whether it’s on your website or in Amazon or Nook’s marketplace. But I’m not aware of evidence that offering a book for free, in itself, increases “sales.” And if it does, are the added buyers really the people you want to sell to? I’d love to hear my reader’s views on this.
Recent features on the e-publishing revolution have focused on its impact on individual authors. But it could have a big impact on content marketers as well. It’s easier than ever to make people pay for your content:
Forget complicated negotiations with publishers. As Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing describes, it is “fast, free and easy” to self-publish on Amazon. Looks pretty easy on the Nook as well.
Unlike the old print days, you don’t have to produce a hefty tome to justify publishing something (and making people pay for it). A few thousand words and some great graphics will do.
Finally, if lead generation is still a big goal of your content marketing, then selling your content is still a great idea. A paying customer is a warmer lead, and the payment process will give you better information than any “free registration” ever would.
So why not give it a try? Wogahn’s post can help—it’s got some good advice on converting content to Kindle and Nook formats.
Richard Sine writes about business, personal finance and health for magazines and content marketers. He writes regularly for Men’s Health magazine and for brands such as Fidelity Investments, UPS and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.