In the Era of Free Access, Which Information Is Really Valuable?

​Everyone may have access to a glut of free information, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best-available information on that topic. And, unless it’s the best, it isn’t valuable. Of course, it isn’t all that cut-and-dried. What is or is not valuable is very subjective. We each value different things for different reasons.

Nevertheless, the plain truth is, all free information isn’t of value. Some of it is just free—and, as the saying goes, “You get what you pay for.”

There is valuable free information out there. Sites of all types do offer accurate information. The question is, how do you know which sites you can trust to provide that accurate information? You can test the information against your own knowledge base, or cross-check it against a known, trustworthy source, but that is a time-consuming, tedious process.

As a business owner, what is most valuable to you is your business. Your products. Your services. Your mission. Your professional reputation. All this pretty much goes without saying, but before you stop reading what might seem obvious, think about this: your business provides information, so if you can provide potential customers with information about your business, why would you want them to read about what someone else has to offer?

You wouldn’t want them to. You just might not necessarily think of your business as an information provider. And yet, that’s exactly how you should think of your business. In the Information Age—the era of free access—everything is about information. Whether you provide a product or a service, it is informational to a certain degree. In addition, your marketing and promotional materials are 100 percent informational, and so you trust that information to enhance your business. In today’s world, because everyone can access free information all the time, it’s difficult to determine which is valuable and which isn’t. More to the point, it’s difficult to determine which so-called free information is actually paid for by sponsored ads—and that doesn’t mean it isn’t accurate information, it might or might not be, but it certainly will have that sponsor’s spin, and justifiably so.

Anyone searching for information about what your business offers is a potential customer. Wouldn’t you rather have your potential customers gather that information in a way that leads them to your business, rather than a competitor’s? Undoubtedly, you answered yes.
If you could capture potential customers simply by improving the quality and presentation of your company/product information, would you consider that valuable? Undoubtedly, another yes.
So, if potential customers perceive that you are giving them valuable information that they need and seek—and that you are offering it for free—it’s likely that they will perceive you as more valuable than the competition. And, if they perceive you as more valuable, it’s likely they’ll choose you over a competitor.

There might be a glut of free information, but the ability to target potential customers by giving them the information they seek is even better than free—it is invaluable.

Lisa Drucker
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