Falling Into The Trap of “Adding Value”

February 17, 2021

If you’ve been in the content marketing game at all, chances are you’ve heard the advice of making sure you “add value” more than once. It’s a message that seems to be hammered into the how-to of writing content.

For years, it’s something I’ve followed. Every blog post should provide value to the reader. Every Instagram post should have a takeaway. Your readers/watchers/consumers should get something out of every post, leading to them seeing you as the “expert” in your field. In turn, they'll trust your future content. At some stage, when that content is promotional, that trust is what drives them to making a purchase.

It makes sense, right? And even extends far beyond content marketing. For example, I’ve always been game for giving advice (when asked/relevant) in Facebook groups. Or in DMs. All in the name of adding value.

My experience with creating content that adds value

For the most part, I think it works. I’ve done very little marketing in three years of running this business, yet have (fairly) consistently landed clients through Facebook. However, as I shift back towards content creation (prior to this business I ran a blog), I’ve been thinking about what my content should look like.

Over the past few months, I’ve been posting eCommerce and web-focused content, with four content pillars - educational, promotional, personal, and general business-y stuff (with an aim of creating relatable content for that last one). It’s been okay. Numbers-wise, the content has seen all the right metrics tracking at a decent rate. I’ve had a few leads come through Instagram too, so I’m fairly confident that the content is connecting with my target market.

Why I've been thinking this might not be the best approach

Lately though, I’ve been really thinking about the kind of content I want to be posting. One of my targets for 2021 was to write one blog post per fortnight, and so I’ve been thinking about that longer-form content. I’ve also been thinking about the kinds of content that I enjoy reading, and, surprise surprise, it’s not all eCommerce focused.

This business is partly a personal brand, which I think gives me a little more leeway to branch into content that’s essentially just thoughts and documenting stuff. I think wrapping up a post with a clear call-to-action is pretty much ingrained in me at this point, but as for adding value in every post? I think that’s going to be something I’ll be less concerned about.

What's the alternative?

That’s not to say that random, meaningless posts are what you’ll see around here, but I’m going to be reframing what I think of as value. I know that personally, a lot of the time that I read content, it’s not the tips and tricks that I care about. If I’m trying to figure something out, I’ll Google it. So unless that tip is literally a game-changer (and no, not every tip is), chances are, it’s actually not something I want to see if I’m just browsing.

It’s the posts about peoples experiences and learnings that actually create connection. I’m pretty sure this is also the kind of content that I get the most out of and it’s the kind of content that I want to shift towards creating. The flip-side to this, is that at the end of the day, I do run a business, and so is posting content that isn’t focused around my target market a terrible idea?

Final thoughts.

I don’t think so. From a business perspective, sure it might not make the most sense, but I think it comes back to the whole personal brand thing. If I branded my services under an agency, I don’t this approach would make sense. As a personal brand, my opinion is that there can be an element of personal in the mix. It won’t be for everyone (which is 110% fine), but it’s something I want to try out, so why not? I’m also at a point in my business where a fair amount of work comes from referrals and past clients, which means that luckily, I’ve got a bit of space to experiment when it comes to marketing.

So what about that free advice through Facebook groups that I mentioned earlier? Something else that I’ve been thinking about is what I offer for free (which is a topic for another day). I’ve decided that as a rule of thumb, if I need to look at a website to answer the question/advise, then that’s where I need to draw the line between free and paid. It’s a solid(ish) boundary, and one that I hope will mean that I am still adding some value, but also valuing my time.

If all goes according to plan, I’ll post an update at some stage around how my new value-less content is working out 🙂 If you’re interested in seeing the results, jump on my mailing list (in the footer) below, and I’ll keep you updated (knew I wouldn’t be able to not end with a CTA!)

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