Have you noticed that practically every company out there is offering a downloadable e-book in exchange for your email address? On Episode 45: Marketing Today, What’s Hot And Not, we discussed how e-books have become ubiquitous…and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

E-books are oversaturated, but most are slapped together and don’t contain compelling or useful content. To the potential customer, the so-so e-book feels like a cheap trick to get your hands on their coveted email address.

Just employing a trendy marketing tactic does not automatically guarantee your campaign will be successful.

Strong marketing strategy takes trends into consideration and stays ahead of them.

Strong brands don’t need to trick their customers into participating- they attract customers by providing a great product or service and behaving as a source of useful information in the community.

But wait! Done right, e-books are still a good way to communicate. You don’t need to avoid e-books as a marketing strategy, nor do you need to trick your customers. You just need to do something different. In this case, there are two ways to do something different than your competitors: share content that’s actually useful, and do it for free.

Give The People What They Want (They Want Knowledge)

We’d like to replace that marketing idiom “sex sells” with the more general idiom “knowledge is power.” Stop trying to be so sexy! Stop trying to allure customers onto your email list with your catchy e-book title!

Seriously, it’s cheap to come up with an intriguing e-book title to grab your customer’s email, only for that customer to quickly discover that the best part of your e-book was that sexy title. They’ll be annoyed if they discover that the rest of your e-book is a flavorless, run-of-the-mill listicle that fades into the deluge of content coming from every other brand in your field.

“Strong marketing strategy takes trends into consideration and stays ahead of them. ”

Instead, consider what your customers might really want to learn that they don’t already know. What insight does your brand or team have that they can offer to your community? What unique perspective does your brand have to add into any given conversation?

If you can offer compelling information to your potential customers, your brand will instantly become more trustworthy, memorable, and likable.

Extending A No-Strings-Attached Gift Is Confident and Compelling

Offering a no-strings-attached gift makes your business look successful and confident enough to act as a thought-leader and resource within your community. It says you’re so confident in the high value of the content you create, that you can give it away completely free because you know customers will find it valuable and be compelled to take further action and invest in your goods or services.

Offering Free, Valuable Content Builds Your Brand As A Resource And Community

Today, consumers expect brands to be socially and environmentally responsible, to make a great product, and to communicate with personality. They want to see brands that walk the walk and talk the talk. And hey, if you don’t, some other brand will rise to the occasion!

Offering free education to your customer community is an investment which, with any luck, will uplevel your customer’s trust and respect for your brand.

Successful businesses today need to do more than put out shiny advertisements peddling empty promises. Increasingly, successful businesses are thought leaders, sources of information, and gathering-places for customer communities.

At the end of the day, being a thought leader is so much better than being a trickster, anyway. You want people to gravitate toward your brand. People gravitate toward resources. Feel free to retire those old tricks and focus on being smart, relevant and helpful instead.