The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as follows…

“Content marketing is the strategic marketing approach of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

The most important word here is ‘valuable’ and that’s due to the last point about ‘driving a profitable customer action’. Because you won’t be able to steer a customer to do anything if they don’t see a clear Positive Value Exchange. This means that they must see a clear benefit to themselves that outweighs what you are asking of them, so it’s positive in their favour.

This relates to the well-known Social Exchange Theory as developed by George Homans. It underpins every exchange between humans and is the fundamental basis for all profitable business.

‘Social exchange theory posits that relationships are formed by the use of a subjective cost-benefit analysis and the comparison of alternatives.’

With this in mind when you are creating content, be sure to understand the value exchange you are offering and that it should be in your customer / prospects favour. For example if you want a prospect to give you their email address then make sure it’s worth it to them. Especially in relation to what other content they can find elsewhere which may not require leaving an email. Of course it’s always best to create a situation where the prospect feels they have got exceptional value. For example a well-made and funny video that entertains and only asks for your attention in return is often a really positive value exchange. So make sure you know what else is out there by ‘walking in your prospects shoes’ and seeing what’s available and comparing that to what you offer.

Always ask yourself “does this content give more value than I am asking for in return” – if the answer is “yes” you are successfully contributing to the customer relationship for the long-term.