Companies who give free advice often get benefits of recognition and media attention. These days that is more often via social media the likes of blogs, stumble upon, and digg, all of which are modern forms of “word of mouth advertising”. But they surpass word of mouth in that references from online social media may stick around years longer than a customers memory can recall things clearly. Information also moves so much faster in our modern world. A reference to your site online whether good or bad can generally spread a lot further a lot faster than good old fashioned “word of mouth advertising”. Not to mention that the references stick around a long time and continue to be viewed by more and more web surfers as time goes on.
So why not take advantage of that and publish all manner of resources to garner some attention? At first glance for a businessman it might seem a bit strange to publish resources on say fishing if you’re a fisherman. Or if you’re the best jewel smith you would think you should keep your tips and tricks to yourself. However the reality is most of the people who see this information and think “it’s cool” are never going to be at a level of expertise to become your competition. They still would need thousands of dollars in training and tools to match the quality your business already offers. Not to mention that most of your tips and tricks are probably known among industry professionals so you’re not really divulging any secrets that could affect your customer base are you? If anything a few amatuers might try your advice and find they’re unable to achieve the quality you are. They’ll be able to appreciate your companies workmanship even more.
If authors were worried about competition text books would only be written by retired professionals. Instead active industry professionals are often the one’s writing new resources because it gains them respect and a reputation in the industry. Online that respect and reputation can translate to your businesses website being a hot topic and resources you publish have a chance to spread among social media attracting all kind of buzz in your direction. The question is will you be ready to keep up?
Free tools, tutorials, howto’s and various other resources and gadgets really are the way of the web. Domaintools? MXtoolbox? Tizag? Howstuffworks? Speedtest.net? Ipchicken.com? All of these services monitize themselves in some way. Some of these monitize themselves with advertisements but others are built by a particular business strictly to promote themselves or their partners.
Customers love when you give them things for free. You might be a bit aprehensive the first time your business is asked to publish free advice. But consider advanced fields like the software industry or web design and think about how long it took you and your employees to get where you are? Did it happen overnight? Unlikely. It probably took years of your spare time learning your trade either at home in your coding cave or at College or University.
Don’t be a protectionist in a time where free tips are the the norm. Your contributions may help people with their coding hobby. (some of which will go on to be professionals after years of dedication) Most people are likely to realize they can’t compete with the level of quality your company can produce in such a short time. Then there are those who fiddle around and find out at some point that they don’t have the time to do it themselves. Meanwhile your real competitors already know the score themselves so your free resources probably won’t help them any.
Out of the few prodigies that can turn a professional product from your tutorials and other resources have you really lost any business? This person obviously had the time, the talent, the ambition and the desire to do things themselves. Were they ever a potential client?
There are already many do it yourself programming and web design communities and resources out there. Why not add to the pool and get your name spread around blogs, twitter, instant messages, discussion boards, and more?