For some years now, I’ve been getting an email newsletter from an old colleague of mine who has his own web design business.
The newsletter contains fairly standard fare from design businesses of this type – latest projects, staff tos and fros, even the latest work party.
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But if we weren’t friends, I would have well and truly unsubscribed from it a long time ago.
Not so much because I already know about most of the news he includes, but because – despite working in a constantly evolving and information-rich area of business, the newsletter completely fails to provide any information or advice that the reader can learn from and apply to their business.
Just when smaller businesses are crying out to be informed and educated about this complex and ever evolving world, this designer turns a blind eye and instead focuses completely on itself.
In other words, they fail to create WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) and instead create IAAU (It’s All About Us).
Not only is that approach, dare I say, narcissistic, it also maximises its chances of being sent to the trash folder.
Even the most reluctant computer user knows that the digital world is completely overwhelmed with information of all shapes, sizes and quality.
Unfortunately they would also know that much of it is nothing more than storage-hogging junk.
And because we are overwhelmed by so much information landing in our inboxes and social networks, the information that your business and my business releases better be damn good or it wont survive an inbox cull or social network scan.
This means that anything that is even vaguely self-centred won’t even see the light of day.
What is your content worth?
It also means that we need to work extra hard to deliver content that is actually worth something. Content that will genuinely save or make your readers money, or give them an advantage in whatever world you are writing about.
It may even be content that not so long back you would have been paid to provide.
It’s this point that makes many hesitate.
Why should I part with information that I can rightly charge for? Isn’t this my bread and butter?
There’s one compelling answer to this and its name is ‘competition’.
Cutting through the clutter
The truth is that in the battle to gain critical ‘cut-through’ and to gain the position of ‘thought leader’, individuals and organisations are now releasing information that not so long ago, readers would have paid very handsomely for.
Outstanding blogs, white papers, eBooks, videos, podcasts, presentations and even online courses are now widely available on websites throughout the internet, sometimes without so much as handing over your email address.
And these resources are not from some backyarder. Some of the top brains and institutions in the world are freely providing this amazing content.
If in doubt, pick a topic, any topic. Then Google search it to find out just how much free and quality content there is on that topic.
All free. And all right there at your fingertips.
Find the true value
So if you think you will attract attention and subscriptions and most importantly conversions by releasing news about latest projects and staff milestones, it might be worth thinking again.
Because your competitors are bound to be offering something far more valuable to your potential customers.
So be honest with yourself. Just how valuable is the information you’re releasing into the online world?
If its not, it may be a good time to re-evaluate this strategy, before you get unsubscribed or unliked for good.
In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.
This article was originally published at SmartCompany.