“FREE” has long been considered one of the two most powerful words in advertising. The other is “YOU” (though in my college days, I swore the other word was either pizza or beer!).
It used to be you got free samples at the grocery store or in a magazine, free gifts with purchase and free reports when you called this 800 number.
Thanks to the Internet, you can now get even more free stuff, from music downloads to ebooks, white papers, articles, advice, videos, podcasts and more. Frankly, it’s easy to become jaded and think all free stuff must be junk. Or expect everything for free. Yet free still hasn’t lost its value as a sales tool.
Well, when you give something away for free, you can:
- Spread your name, expertise, brand, and/or links to your Website or blog far and wide.
- Immediately position yourself as an expert.
- Give people a chance to sample your wares with little risk. If they like the freebie, chances are high they’ll be willing to pay for more (It’s like buying those little mini-quiches after tasting them at Costco!).
- Reduce the barrier to entry, making it easy for someone to say they’re interested in what you’ve got. That’s the start of a highly responsive email or direct mail list. Stay in touch and keep offering value and chances are good they’ll eventually buy from you.
- Reach, and help, way more people.
Of course, you won’t make a dime if you give away the store!
Entrepreneurs often ask me how much they can afford to give away for free. Clearly, you can’t give away everything or you’ll go out of business. But you can—and should—give away far more than you think!!
5 Simple Rules
Below are 5 simple rules for turning freebies into sales.
Rule # 1 – Never, ever, give away your expertise on your own time!
That means no free consultations or coaching. Not even introductory.
The only time it’s okay to give away your time for free is if you choose to do a set amount of charity work….Or if you’re going to get marketing, advertising or great exposure to your target market out of it.
Rule #2 – You can always give away the “what” and “why”.
People will still need to come to you for the how. For example, you could write an article on a particular type of massage (or on blogging, or Web design, or facials; whatever) and why it’s beneficial. Those who enjoyed your article, and are in your area, are now likely to hire you for a massage because they still don’t know how to do it themselves.
Rule #3 – You can often give away the “how” and still get customers.
Even if you tell people exactly how to do something, many will decide it’s too much work and hire you to do it anyway. For example, a contractor can create a short video explaining step-by-step how to build a staircase but most people still won’t try to do it themselves.
It’s too complicated and too much work. So they end up hiring the contractor because they liked his video and he’s clearly an expert.
Rule # 4 – You have to give away value!
No two ways about it. Don’t think you can simply give away a product no one bought….Or something that’s second rate, or not useful or helpful in some way. Do this and people assume nothing you offer is of value, and they won’t ever spend a dime with you. On the other hand, if your free stuff is packed with value, they won’t hesitate to buy because if your freebie is that good, your full-price products or services must be amazing!
Rule #5 – Don’t expect people to take a big leap.
No matter how great your freebie is, you can’t expect everyone to jump straight from that to paying you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Instead, offer products or services at various price points so people can move up gradually, much like climbing a ladder. If they keep getting value, they’ll begin to trust you and happily spend more over time.