Give it Away: 3 Reasons Why Your Company Should Create Shareable Content and Distribute it for Free

Shareable Content


The world has changed since I founded my digital marketing agency, Findsome & Winmore, in 1995. Hashtags were pound signs, dial-up internet tied up our landlines and web 2.0 hadn’t shown its full potential. But we have evolved with the times, adopting tactics that may have once seemed ludicrous or impossible before the renaissance of shareable content truly began.

Today, your marketing doesn’t stand a chance unless your strategy embraces a singular fact: traditional, sales-heavy ads will often be far less engaging than quality, shareable content distributed for free. Need proof? According to the Content Marketing Institute, 2oo million people use ad blockers and, though content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing, it yields three times as many leads.

This is one of the lessons that propelled me to begin outlining and writing my latest book, Formulaic: How Thriving Companies Market from the Core, which led me to find examples outside of my own firm of this practice that yields powerful results for companies like Patagonia and Dollar Shave Club.

Patagonia, the outdoor apparel giant, puts what I’m sure amounts to thousands of dollars of time and work into their catalog. But this is more than a simple sales brochure. The Patagonia catalog features in-depth, magazine-quality stories from people who actually use their products.  The publication puts the customers–not the company–in the spotlight and simultaneously conveys the spirit of the brand. Add to it some high-quality photography, and they have a product that people would pay for (but don’t have to). Even better, the content itself is largely contributed by the audience it targets.

Dollar Shave Club, the rebellious facial hair aficionados, have been known for their quirky online ads. However, it’s their “Bathroom Minutes” tips series that I find most influential in creating shareable content and giving it away for free. Though not written by their customers, this series still speaks directly to its audience. From “The Plumber’s Guide to Not Clogging Your Sink When Shaving” to “5 Non-BS Health and Grooming Life Hacks,” this is content that could easily be featured on Men’s Health, but Dollar Shave Club is giving it away without the subscription fee. Why? Because it is valuable for their audience and will result in clicks, attention and, hopefully, brand awareness that will lead more people to that “buy” button.

But what can other businesses gain from giving away quality content for free? If Findsome & Winmore’s success is any indicator, quite a lot.

As a small business owner myself, I absolutely understand the reluctance to give away anything of value for free; businesses are run on hard data and ROI, after all. But assets like PR opportunities, global search engine traffic and credibility should not be discounted by demanding all marketing directly drive sales. Through committing to viewing your brand as a publisher instead of strictly a salesperson, you can provide free, creative and highly shareable content that will keep the attention of your audience far more effectively than the pushy, “BUY NOW” ads of old