Nix the Pens and Magnets, Give Away Knowledge

When you think of corporate giveaways, what comes to mind?

Pens. Magnets. Chip clips. You probably have a drawer (or three) full of them, and you probably can’t name more than a few of the companies who gave them to you. That’s a marketing fail.

Traditional mass-produced marketing giveaways don’t yield the same ROI that a free pencil did in the 1950’s. Now, freebies encompass a broad range of items from entertainment to whitepapers. Successful corporate giveaways hinge on creativity and value, and one of the most effective ways to leverage that is to give away what you know.

You’re Teeming With Knowledge

It doesn’t matter what business you’re in -- you’re full of expertise. That’s why you’re still in business. So, share that expertise and show the world you’re a credible, accessible partner.

If you’re a small business, what do you do best? What knowledge can you share with potential customers to get more? What are the tactics and strategies you can share with your peers to improve your standing in the sector?

A good way to start is by looking at your competitors. You’ve surely noticed what they do well, particularly if you don’t do it as well. You’ve thought about your relative strengths, too. What do you do better than anyone?

Identify Ways to Give It Away

For years, blogging was touted as an outstanding way for businesses and individuals to share knowledge and build credibility in a way that paid off with marketing. That’s still true.

Now, though, businesses have many more options for sharing what they know. You can give away your analysis of your sector’s news of the day via Twitter. You can post imagery that ignites customer loyalty via Instagram. You can record informal podcasts for iTunes or produce longer deep dives or how-to videos for YouTube.

The right platform and strategy for your business will depend on what you do and who your customers are, but there’s no doubt that there’s a platform for you… and probably several. Giving away knowledge through a multimedia strategy can attract new customers and improve your existing relationships.

Be Creative… and Willing to Fail

Here’s the reality: some of your ideas for giving away knowledge might fail. Actually, most of them might. And that’s ok.

It can take a while for a whitepaper series, a schedule of free community talks, or a social media account to gather support. That’s… just how it works most of the time. It’s not commentary on the quality of your offering or whether your client base or community is interested. The sooner you accept that, the better.

By trying a host of different things, you’ll realize what fosters engagement more than the rest. You’ll see what you like doing and what you can create comfortably and efficiently. Between those two, you’ll determine what your audience wants to see and what you love giving away.

Stay Flexible and Open-Minded

Giving away knowledge successfully starts with a plan… and then you’ll have to modify that plan over and over. Again, that’s just how it works, and it’s an excellent process to get to know both yourself and your audience.

Everything you create and give away generates data. The more you become immersed in the process -- and the more you see what other companies are doing right -- the more dynamic your ideas will be. That dynamism will force you to tweak your original plans, and the result is marketing efforts that people actually want.

No more pens, no more magnets. What can your company give away?

Rodney Steele