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How free content can build brand awareness and attract new members

Heather Nolan
October 27, 2020
How free content can build brand awareness and attract new members

The internet has revolutionized the way we consume content. Though people once gladly paid for newspapers, books and magazines, today’s readers have a never-ending library of free content at their fingertips. 

While much of this content is poor quality — riddled with factual errors, uninspiring viewpoints, or outdated information — a significant portion of it is excellent. As a result, people are becoming increasingly selective about the content they’re willing to pay for. 

Associations and membership organizations are already experts at creating high-quality, paywalled content. Now, it’s time to leverage “freemium” (a word derived from “free” and “premium”) content to pique a larger audience’s interest. 

Doing so can show a large audience all your organization has to offer.

How do you decide what to give away? Check out these three actionable goals that it can help your organization achieve. 

Freemium content can attract new members

Think of the last excellent blog post or article you read, then ask yourself two questions:

Did you care more about where it was published, or the ideas it put forth? And did the content positively impact your view of the organization that published it?

Chances are, you cared about the credibility more than the brand appeal — but if the content was memorable enough, the brand stuck with you.

Once you put freemium content out into the world, it can put your organization in front of thousands of fresh readers from many industries, regions and walks of life. From this broad funnel, some will stick and become regular readers or even members.

To attract new members, focus on creating freemium content that offers a glimpse of your best paywalled content. An eye-catching blog based on a longer study, a stylish video on a timely issue and an engaging social media campaign are all examples of freemium content that can catch the public’s attention. 

With the right fine-tuning, you’ll begin to develop a larger audience of people who are interested in your organization’s work. Then, you’ll be able to begin converting readers into full-fledged members. 

Freemium content can refresh your marketing materials

There’s an old saying in writing: “Show, don’t tell.” Yet traditional marketing tends to do a lot of telling. 

Print ads, direct mail and other traditional marketing pushes out static messages, sometimes obscuring the lived reality behind the message.

Freemium content provides a compelling alternative. While reading, viewing or listening to freemium content, your audience can experience your organization first-hand. 

Your organization could launch a podcast featuring interviews with notable members, instantly allowing listeners to experience the conversations they could have after joining. A blog post featuring cutting-edge data would demonstrate the credibility of your research.

Or a video reel of event highlights could place viewers right in the center of members-only events they could attend.

If you want your marketing materials to be compelling, immersive and original, freemium content should be an essential part of the mix. 

Freemium content can unlock the network effect

For organizations that primarily publish paywalled content, most content transactions are simple. Content is pushed from the organization to members, who consume and apply it. 

But with freemium content, there are no limits on who can share content or how far it can go. A viral blog post can reach millions of new readers, or a groundbreaking statistic could end up being covered by top-tier news outlets. 

Best of all, this content can circulate further throughout readers’ personal networks. A longtime member might share a post that prompts new members to join, or someone in a related industry might get their entire office hooked on your newsletter. As word of mouth marketing and referrals go digital, freemium content can prompt engagement that solidifies the social proof behind your organization.

Whether you want to attract new members, refresh your marketing materials, or benefit from the network effect, freemium content is a powerful way to take your content to the next level. 

Build yourself with Sidecar

If you’re ready to increase your membership organization’s revenue, connect with an entire community of purpose-driven leaders and grow yourself, we’re ready to help you do it.

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Heather Nolan

Heather Nolan is a marketing specialist at Sidecar. A former journalist and social media manager, Heather lives in New Orleans with her husband, son, and grumpy rescue dog.

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