How Open Are You With Your Content?

Must point you to a great post/presentation by Jay Baer about the Six Stages of Content Marketing. This is an issue associations grapple with every day – and are being forced to shift their thinking about: What do we provide for free, and what is worth paying for?

Jay and Joe Pulizzi break this down in a hilarious “opening the kimono” metaphor, providing examples of each:

1. Closed Kimono – no thought leadership vehicles; the scarcity effect.
2. What Happens In Vegas – participation in communities, no free content
3. Quid Pro Quo – producing content for a fee
4. Give Me Your Number – producing content, accessible after filling out a contact form
5. Peek-A-Boo – considerable free content but no revelation of “secret sauce”
6. The Full Monty – unrestricted, unfettered free content

We SocialFish like the naked route, obviously (no, not like THAT!). We very consciously choose – and work very hard at – sharing our content as far and wide as it will go. We look for industry partners to help sponsor our white papers (and infographics) so that we can provide them for free to everyone. Our Think Tank is free to join. We spend many hours per week sourcing good information and sharing it all over the web. We believe that access to us for customized consulting advice is what’s worth paying for.

We’ve asked this before, but what kinds of association content are worth paying for? What kind of content draws in engagement and community, that might be worth paying even more for?

Read Jay’s excellent post for full descriptions of these stages, and check out the accompanying slide deck below.

What do you think about this metaphor (there’s no right or wrong way, by the way)? How would you translate this to how your association considers its content?

{ 2 comments }

Terry Coatta December 15, 2011 at 3:17 pm

The MGI reports seem to fairly consistently indicate that one of the main reasons that people join associations is for access to specialized content. This would seem to make it difficult for an association to adopt a completely open content model since it would reduce their value proposition to potential members. Also, producing the type of specialized content that members are interested in generally has a non-zero cost — crowdsourcing of content can only get you so far in my experience. For example, having a good editor on staff can make a phenomenal difference to the quality of the content produced — I say this as someone whose content is quite regularly improved by the editorial staff at the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery). So, I think that for associations, it is likely that some content is always going to remain “inside the kimono.”

Christina Smith December 16, 2011 at 7:46 am

Free content is especially great for people who use it as a sort of open reference list. For instance, someone who works in the consulting field may develop a good deal of free content as it helps them to be further accepted as a thought and industry leader. It also promotes their information to a large audience as the content is curated and shared. This content becomes their references and helps customers seeking their services make decisions based on the free knowledge offered. Chris Brogan operates this way. He offers a lot of information for free (blogs, webinars, video blogs, etc.) He knows that the consumer of this information may one day hire him. It’s a cost of doing business and a whole lot more personal than handing his audience a list of references. As a software provider our content is free. But that’s not our primary product. As Terry mentioned, for associations, that content may be the impetus behind joining so I share his opinion that “full-Monty” (love Jay Baer) may not be the way to go.

To answer your question about what folks would pay for, industry benchmarking reports and other content they can’t easily obtain by themselves would be worth the most.

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