I believe there are some fundamental mistakes happening because we’re not truly understanding the value of a subscriber.

The context behind this article. A valued comrade in this digital space threw the following poser my way… “If someone simply provides an email address so they can download a guide (to whatever) – is that also a lead or is there another word for it?”

How do you feel about this question? Do you share knowledge with your audience in the format of an eBook or guide?

Am I right in guessing that you’ve taken this decision so you can gate the content and do a value-swap with your audience? Your knowledge in exchange for their email address?

Here’s my take.

The ‘lead’ you’ve just generated, in all likelihood is far far away from where you believe them to be. Hence the visual context of the rather nice image above. They’re out of sight.

In all likelihood they’re ‘knowledge seekers’.  They’re looking to gain insight. Whether that insight leads them down the path towards purchase. Well, that’s open for discussion.

I’m not overly concerned by what we call them. Leads? Prospects? Just words. The important element, far greater than the label, is the understanding of where they are. We’re just making educated guesses about where they want to get to.

I download guides left, right and centre. I’m building knowledge. If I read a landing page and it’s in the context of the knowledge I seek? I’ll download your guide. I may even pay for it. I want to acquire what you’re giving in exchange for what I have. My email address.

I’ve built trust into the equation.

I trust you not to take my request out of context. Again, I’m simply a knowledge seeker.

Use that label for your database. It’ll help remind you of why people are connecting with your business.

Whether I download your guide or subscribe to your email, we’re probably at the earliest stage of this journey together. Me giving you what I have, you giving me what you have.

What do I offer you?

My trust and my time. During this process, if you feel you have something to offer that meets my needs – again, that demand for knowledge, share it with me. I’m listening. If that leads towards the introduction of a product or service you feel is applicable (based on the knowledge I’ve sought) that’s fine too. Again, I’m all ears.

We have a tendency, particularly in the B2B field, to demand too much from our audience. We ask ‘we have something of value to you, why won’t you accept it?’. It’s a valuable question to be asking.

It’s a question that you need to be answering. Not me.

Ask yourself how you can make your proposition more valuable. So, I’m adding finance to the list of investments I’m making in your business. You’ve got my time (I’m listening). You’ve got access to my time (I’ve unlocked that for you). Now, what value can you place upon my financial investment in you?

Sharing your knowledge, your know-how, leads us on a journey. I’m looking to you for advice. Advise me.

I don’t agree with the idea that we don’t sell through the content we create.

We do. We have to. It’s at the core of progressing our business.

We’re not selling products, we’re selling the value that those products bring us. What those products help us, as individuals, to achieve.

If I offer you my email address, I’m pretty much at your mercy. You could bombard me with sales talk. That’s not why I’m here. Remember why I am here. In my pursuit of knowledge. I’m somewhere inside your funnel (if you like to think about sales in context of shapes). I could surprise you with a call today. I could consume your next 20 eBooks and you still won’t hear a jot from me. But I am listening. I am learning from you.

The terminology is irrelevant. Call me a lead, a prospect, a subservient of your business, I don’t particularly care, just tell me what I need to know. Do it succinctly. Do it well. It’s why I’m here.

Value me (your subscriber) as one person trying to accomplish something that you may be able to assist with. That’s enough value to place upon me for the time being.

Learn more from Ian at the Marketing Homebrew Podcast