Sometime soon after launching my website in 1996 I learned about the concept of giving away “free stuff” to people who visited my website.
I launched my More Clients eZine in 1997 and gave away my “Marketing Plan Workbook” and grew my eZine list to 50,000+ people in about 5 years.
Those people who requested my free stuff then bought my InfoGuru Marketing Manual. And the people who bought the manual signed up for my Marketing Action Groups and many other programs over the following years.
That free stuff has generated millions of dollars in sales and a self-sustaining business that makes a difference to thousands of people.
But giving away Free Stuff was the start of it all.
Over the years I’ve learned a lot of things about providing this free stuff and I’d like to share some of them with you.
1. Give Away Real Value
You’ve got to go beyond old formulas and how-tos. People are looking for more. They are looking for transformation, real change, things that will help them take the next leap.
Paul Zelizer, the founder of Wisdompreneurs, mentioned this in a post today: When asked about effective marketing in today’s economy, Dustin Stout said: “Stop being amazing and start being useful.”
You don’t need to make outrageous promises; you just need to deliver the goods. When someone reads your report or watches your video, they should say to themselves, “Wow, this is really useful. This is something I should be implementing in my business (or life). I want more of this stuff!”
And the better you know who your clients are and what they are struggling with, the better value you can offer.
2. Be a Real Person
When you offer your articles, reports, videos, etc., connect as a real, authentic person, someone others can easily relate to.
Mark Silver, of Heart of Business, emphasizes connecting to people more deeply. He recommends: 1. Empathy – so people feel seen and witnessed, which is the first step in healing. 2. Education, so people can understand and learn from what we are describing/explaining. 3. Entertainment – often humor – so people can feel a lightness of heart. 4. Inspiration – so people can feel hope.
And being vulnerable and imperfect works better than showing how great you are! I often talk about how much I struggled in starting my business and how many mistakes I made. This actually encourages people, as it demonstrates that nobody starts out successfully, that it always takes hard work and that it’s OK to make mistakes.
3. Give People a Real Taste
I recently posted a blog that gave an exercise as the end to apply the lessons I outlined. I just got an email from a reader about how much she appreciated this.
She said: “Loved the LITTLE exercise… that is helping me make BIG changes at this end. More simple “little” exercises like that at the end of your posts, please. Sooooo helpful and utterly do-able! I feel very encouraged.”
When you get feedback like that, you know you’re connecting and making a difference. When you suggest simple action steps or exercises, some people will actually do them. And these are the people who will become your fans and ultimately end up working with you sometime in the future.
Don’t be stingy about what you give away. If your free stuff doesn’t have much value, your prospective clients will tune out and are unlikely to ever buy something from you.
4. Move the Free Line
This is something I learned from Eban Pagan, a very smart and successful online marketer. He makes the point that everyone is giving away free articles and reports. So, even if your material is good, it’s hard to get the attention you want as it may look like everyone else’s.
I decided to use his approach when developing my Unstuck Process. I didn’t just write another report, I wrote an e-book. I had a cover professionally designed. I hired an editor to make it better. I recorded the complete process as an audiobook as well, plus added many other bonuses. And then I designed a completely new website to feature this ebook.
This is the kind of thing that gets attention and has others share it with their friends and associates. Within five days of the launch, about 2,500 people had downloaded the e-book. And thank-you emails keep pouring in. Yes, you can still get your copy if you haven’t yet: http://theunstuckprocess.com
Now, what good does this do for me? Well, it’s exciting to share this valuable information that could be life-changing for many. That gets me up in the morning! And later on, I’ll be offering some in-depth courses on the Unstuck Process that will help even more people. Ultimately new students and clients will come from this as well without the need for a hard-sell.
5. Don’t Be Too Self-Serving
I notice something early on in my business: Anytime I tried to do something with the prime agenda of making money, it failed. Yes, it’s perfectly fine to make money, even a lot of money, but if making a difference and a contribution isn’t the foundation of your business, things will likely backfire.
One way of knowing if your heart is in the right place is by asking the question: “Would I want to do this anyway, even if I didn’t get paid?” If you’re excited about your work, find it endlessly interesting and feel fulfilled by helping other people, you have a solid foundation to build upon.
If you are creating material, no matter how seemingly valuable, for primarily egoistic ends, sooner or later things are going to crash and burn. Promoting your ego is not sustainable.
6. Get your Free Stuff Channels Set Up
The first free stuff channel is always an opt-in on your website. When people opt-in to get your materials, they’ll also get on your ezine list (which they can opt-out of at any time).
Then give more great free stuff through your articles, videos etc. on a regular basis. But don’t overdo it! It’s not unusual that I download something valuable and then get bombarded by a new email every single day, sometimes more than once a day, for months on end. If you do that, people will tune out quickly.
I recommend sending something anywhere from weekly (as I do) to monthly. Then, when you do the occasional promotion, launching a program or service, people will be more willing to check out what you have to offer.
Then also post your information on your blog, write guest posts for other blogs or for Pulse section of LinkedIn. Get interviewed for podcasts, give teleclasses and webinars. Share your free stuff on social media. Get know for what you know and the difference you make.
Take Action: Start by writing the titles for several articles or reports that you feel would be valuable to your clients. Then do a Google search for similar articles. What can you say that gives a new and valuable spin on this information? Then write an article on that and get it out there. And never stop!
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