When it comes to interacting with companies, it appears that consumers are starting to evolve their preferences and their processes for deciding which organizations to do business with. No longer do they wish to be engaged only when it is time to close the sales process. They seek out companies that offer them value beyond the product or service they purchase. This trend has lead to a rise in content marketing (publishing free and relevant information for the consumers’ benefit) and the ongoing popularity of hosting informational seminars and webinars, as well as writing print columns, online documents, white papers, blog posts, podcasts and other forms of content to provide added value.

If you are particularly knowledgeable about a certain issue, it may be worthwhile to design a presentation and engage in seminar marketing to share that information with people who could eventually become prospective clients. Invite your current clients, and encourage them to invite friends and business associates (as their acquaintances likely fit your ideal client profile as well). Host it in an area where many of your ideal clientele spend their time and require preregistration. There is a reason that you will often have to register to download a research paper online or become a member to receive newsletters from some analyst firms. It is a way for those organizations to enter your name into their prospect pipelines.

Have you been on the receiving end of content marketing? Have you signed up for a free webinar or filled out an online form? Although you may not be looking for a specific product or service when you want to learn more about a research topic, those companies are hoping that you are on the first step to buying. With your contact information, they can work to stay top of mind by sending you related research papers, gradually moving you down the pipeline toward becoming a customer or client.

This is a great tactic that you can easily employ yourself. In order to build up a reputation as an expert in your field, you may have to give away some advice for free with seminars and digital content, but you can be compensated with more prospective leads. However, there is some contention about whether putting content behind a registration wall helps or hinders companies’ marketing efforts. So try to strike a balance between what is and is not behind a registration wall.

Seminar marketing may require a lot of work up front, but the eventual payoff could be dozens or even hundreds of prospects who have already become involved in the process by witnessing your expertise firsthand. This can be used as capital months or years later, when you finally secure a sales meeting with a prospect and he or she is already familiar with your brand’s strengths and value proposition.