Many times I’ve heard marketers say something like “You have to give something to get something.” And many times, the person means “[The customer] needs to give [their personal information] to get [my content].” As a marketer I can see the logic, especially when it comes to targeting, measuring, and tracking. But as a consumer, it’s not always clear to me that what I’m getting is as valuable as what they’re giving.
There’s a great article from HBR [N.B. requires purchase and/or login] that talks about the gap between sellers’ and buyers’ perceptions. According to the article, sellers overvalue their wares by up to a factor of 3x, while buyers undervalue those same wares by up to 3x, resulting in a nearly 10x gap between what the seller thinks their thing is worth and what the buyer is willing to “pay” for it.
Put it another way: how many of us have clicked a link or gone to a website only to be immediately challenged to “log in or register to see that content”? Before you are even able to evaluate whether the information is good and valuable and credible you have to give up your personal information, sometimes including your street address and employer’s name. It might not seem like that big of a deal, but given the recent rash of security breaches around the internet (viz: Citibank, Gawker Media, Sony, et al), it should make you wonder exactly how secure your information is, what is the risk of that information being leaked to the rest of the internet, and what happens to you if it does get leaked. Only then will you start putting your information in the right context to decide whether giving it up is the right thing to do.
As a vendor, you have to ask yourself whether that White Paper is telling the customer something they can find in any first year MBA textbook, whether that blog post titled “37 Ways to Supercharge Your Marketing Plan” is really all that insightful, or whether the news you’re hiding behind a paywall is something the customer can freely find somewhere else (see also: the Disney Corporation).
Good marketing is not about targeting, or measuring, or tracking; good marketing is about getting inside the customer’s head and offering something that they really find valuable. Not something that’s inside the 10x margin, not something that’s slighly less crummy than the competition, not something that was easy for you to get done and approved, but something that helps the customer solve a problem that’s big enough to matter and let them do it without a bunch of “exciting (upsell) opportunities” standing in their way. Only then can you really become the “trusted advisor” that is the holy grail of customer-marketing relationships.