March 27, 2012

A Tale of Two Free Recipes

It’s starting to get easier to find companies that understand the value of providing free content online.  Some companies, however, do a better job of making their free content easier to share, thus reaching a larger audience.  Here are two companies, competitors in the same industry, which take slightly different approaches to providing free content:

  • Godiva: Godiva products can be found almost everywhere you look – from Godiva’s bricks-and-mortar locations to larger retail chains, such as Walgreens, Barnes and Noble, and Target, to  Godiva does a good job of promoting sales in all channels by providing free recipes, which include Godiva products, on

Godiva makes it easy to sort the free recipes by category and/or ease-of-baking.  Best of all – Godiva does not place any obstacles in the way to accessing the free content/recipes, so it’s easy to share these recipes via all social media platforms.

  • Ghirardelli: Ghirardelli products are also in many of the same large retail locations as Godiva – Target, Walgreens, and grocery store chains – and online at yet Ghirardelli only makes some of its free recipes, which include Ghirardelli products, available on its web site.

If you want to see most of Ghirardelli’s free recipes, you have to "like" the company on facebook. 

Let’s face it, not everyone wants to deal with logging on to facebook to access more free recipes when they can easily find free recipes at other sites.

Why does any of this matter to your company?

  • Providing free content, without any barriers to accessing the content – be it filling out a sales lead form or “liking” your facebook page – allows more potential customers to access and share your free content.  Having worked with B2B and B2C clients, I realize we would all like to have the contact info of every potential customer who views our free content online but at the end of the day, most marketing and sales staff are judged on increased revenue, not increased number of sales leads. (Besides, you can still use software packages like Eloqua to track the site visits from your email list and see what site pages your sales leads are viewing.)
Treat your free content like your checkout process – the fewer steps involved to find and share, the higher the conversion rate.  Godiva really gains the advantage on Ghirardelli by not making site visitors go through the extra steps of logging on to facebook and “liking” the company.  However, both sites take different approaches to design and usability: Godiva at least uses the keyword “recipes” but the link is in the bottom navigation; Ghirardelli opts for the call-to-action phrase of “bake with us” in the top navigation.  What design approach is best for your site?  Take a look at the keyword phrases your site visitors are using to find your site and when searching for content/products on your site.  You make it easier for visitors to access your content when you communicate using the same terminology as your site visitors.

  • Word-of-mouth still carries more influence than paid marketing.  Why not let as many people as possible share your free content on Pinterest, Google+, facebook, Twitter and other social media sites?  It’s free advertising for your company and increases the top-of-mind awareness of your brand.

  • You either gain a competitive advantage or you risk losing market share to your competitors that realize the value of providing free content that can be easily shared by prospective customers.  I recently spoke with a Marketing exec in a retail company who told me that his company is going to focus on social media in 2013 but not this year.  The reality is that his competitors are already using Polyvore, Pinterest, and other sites to push awareness and sales of their products.  If your company is not willing to spend much money on social media, at least make it easy for your customers to freely promote your products via social media. 

What steps are you or your clients taking to provide more free content online to increase sharing, brand awareness and revenue?

In case you now feel like baking:

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