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If you have been reading my blog for a while you know I talk a lot about creating content. Today I want to talk about creating content but for a different reason.

COX Business has done some pretty cool stuff that I as a marketer want to bring to your attention. May 12th through 16th was small business week. COX has created some great content during the entire month to celebrate Small Business Week.

Goal 1: what is the content?

My goal in this post is to accomplish two things. First, I want to bring your attention to the assets they have created because they are very valuable to the small business owner.

The first piece of content is called “12 Things to Know Before Starting a Small Business”. It is a free report and the title tells you exactly what you’re going to get.

Personally, I would recommend checking it out whether you are starting a business or have been running one for years. There are just some darn good business fundamentals packed in here.

In the report they talk about principles by Jim Blasingame, the author of the new book, “The Age of the Customer – Prepare for the Moment of Relevance.” The 12 things come from Jim’s expertise.

The second report is called “5 Technologies Every Business Owner Needs”. In this report they share insights on why your accounting software should be in the cloud, marketing automation, technology planning, choosing the best cloud service and creating a collaboration culture within your business.

It’s only 16 pages but it’s packed with great information. And, an important key here in both reports, they aren’t selling anything. This is just quality free content that will add value to any reader who runs or owns a small business.

Reading Business Reports

Goal 2: How you can do the same thing

My second goal here is to share the marketing mechanics at work. I want to show you how you can do the exact same thing to build your own mailing list and sell your product or service.

When you download their free reports, you will notice a few things. Follow these guidelines and create your own free giveaway assets. If what you have is valuable, people will want this information and take an action such as entering their email to get it. Once they are on your email list you can market to them whenever you want, virtually for free.

Here are the things to follow:

1: Aesthetically appealing

They have a nice cover image. They have images throughout. They use a table of contents that allows the reader to easily surf to the section they want to. The layout is crisp and clean making it pleasing and easy to read.

If you’re handy with Microsoft Word, this isn’t too difficult to do. You can also hire someone on Elance or Fiverr fairly inexpensively to lay everything out for you.

You can get stock photos for free or fairly inexpensively. Just make sure you have the right to use them and credit the author if needed.

2: The right amount of content

There is not too much here making it easy to read this very quickly. When people ask me how long a blog post or other content should be, my reply is always as long as it needs to be to accomplish the goal and no longer. Ideally, the shorter the better because people have short attention spans. But if it doesn’t get the job done by building value for you, it needs to be longer.

These reports are 9 and 16 pages respectively. Both could be read in less than an hour. Yet there is enough content to make this more valuable than a simple blog post.

3: Professionally written

There are no typos. The grammar is spot on. It reads well.

It has obviously been copy edited. While there is no guarantee that will make it perfect, have someone proof it for you. If it doesn’t read professionally, you’re doing yourself harm by trying to do good.

4: Leads back to the source

You will see that they have their branding in the header. It is clear who wrote this.

In the footer they have their copyright and link back to their website. In one eBook they have links to all their social media. Actually not quite sure why they don’t have that in both. But either way, the reader will know who wrote it and find it simple to learn more.

5: Copywriting essentials

These have strong titles and a double readership path. These elements make the content easily readable.

The title is the headline. Without a strong one, no one will bother lending their email for entry let alone reading it. A good headline teases what they will get. It whets their appetite for more. It has to be irresistible.

The double readership path is for the skimmer. In this case, these are the chapter headlines. You can get the gist of what the whole thing is about by reading these.

For example, the double readership path in this article are all the sub headlines. They break up the article and will give the skimmer a good idea of what this is all about.

6: Value

I saved the most important for last. It goes without saying that if this document doesn’t add value and fulfill the headline’s promise, you lose the reader. They will be less likely to want to do business with you and may not open your emails.

Do your homework and give your readers value. Spend time on your content. You may even want to hire someone to help with research.


Providing a free report, eBook, white paper or whatever you want to call it in exchange for an action can build an email list very fast. I recommend you download these reports and study them not only as a business owner, but as a marketer. See how you can use this method in your own marketing.

Check out the reports from COX Business:

12 Things to Know Before Starting a Small Business

5 Technologies Every Business Owner Needs

Legal Mumbo Jumbo

I am required (legally and ethically) to let you know I am getting paid to write this. I receive compensation for participating in a campaign for the fine folks at COX Business.

Now I’ve said it before but I feel compelled to say it every single time I get paid to blog: Whether or not I am getting paid, I don’t blog about anything that I don’t believe in. I chose to participate in this campaign because I like what COX Business has created.

Your turn

Have something to add to this article? Leave your contribution in the comments.