Moving The Free Line of Your Business

Image of No Money SignFree isn’t a sustainable business model.  But you do attract more bees with honey than vinegar.

What does that mean for online business? It means we should consider leading with free and making our offer later.

It’s not 1997 anymore.  People need to be sold even on free white papers, ebooks, or otherwise. For that you can thank, in part, the scammers and thieves for sowing distrust.  Consumers are sick of getting burned buying rubbish info products and dealing with deceptive billing practices or even worse.  Some marketers were even sued by the FTC.

The internet marketing landscape has changed but the core principles are still in place.  People expect value but now they want transparency and a show of good faith.  So you’ll need to woo them before you make any offer, even free.  Free just gets the ball rolling.

A free ebook.

A free white paper.

A free 15-minute consultation.

A free gift basket.

It’s up to you to be creative here but the free line needs to be (already is whether you like it or not) moved in business today.  Many online business owners are already using this approach which adds to its expectation but also promotes a marketplace of giving before receiving. Which I believe is great because it gives customers the upper-hand.

Free Doesn’t Equal Broke

Well, let’s face it.  If you’re giving things away for free you aren’t going to “make up for it in volume.”  So here’s the pro tip: learn to widen your sales funnel and start with free but lead to a paid product.

If you’re writing a white paper or ebook to give away in exchange for an email opt-in, then use the savvy affiliate marketers’ approach.  Include in your ebook a genuine recommendation for a relevant product or service that you find valuable and think your reader would as well.

You win if they click your link and make a purchase (you sign up as an affiliate of the product so you receive compensation).

They win by having you do all the product research and comparison legwork for them.  Beautiful, right?

Just be careful not to make your entire free product a pitch fest.  If you make your subscribers feel like they were duped into reading a sales catalog masquerading as an ebook then you’ve lost them.

Create Your Freebie

What can you offer of value and benefit to your customers?  Think about how you can tie in your freebie to a paid offering shortly down the road.  Your front-end product should educate your customer so they can make an informed decision about buying from you later.

Make it engaging, open, and build rapport by packing it with value so your customer sees that you’re a “go to” resource.

It’s funny that the more you give away for free the more people will line up for a paid product from you later.  It only makes sense; if your free stuff rocks people’s socks then the perception is your premium offering must be amazing.

Get started on your freebie today but don’t over think it.  If it’s your first ebook or white paper then don’t agonize just get writing. You’ll gain experience as you create and learn how to deliver a superior product later.

Are you sharing quality content freely or holding on to it tightly?  What are your thoughts?

Photo: jmrosenfeld

6 Responses to Moving The Free Line of Your Business
  1. Eddie Gear - The Guy With An Attitude
    February 14, 2011 | 10:18 am

    Freebies are a great way to attract new customers, dont let anyone tell you otherwise. More than 60 percent sales made are offers tied with freebies. Excellent article Jon

    • Jon
      February 14, 2011 | 1:15 pm

      Eddie – Welcome and thank you for visiting. Freebies (or ethical bribes as some people call them) are misunderstood by people that aren’t in our space. They’re such a powerful way “in” with your audience but some business owners still have a hard time wrapping their minds around this.

  2. Sarah Russell
    February 14, 2011 | 12:51 pm

    Haha – This reminds me of a conversation I had on this very subject recently. Oh yeah… with you… yesterday… :)

    Thanks for another reminder that I can’t just give everything away for free!!!

    • Jon
      February 14, 2011 | 1:12 pm

      Heheh It’s a coincidence too because I already had this written up and scheduled. That was a productive conversation yesterday, thanks again.

  3. HP van Duuren
    February 24, 2011 | 8:48 am

    Thanks for your Post,

    I do think that moving the – Free Line – is definitely a great Approach for doing Online Business.

    For example on my Writing Lifestyle Blog I have a Public Free Q&A-type Blog where readers can write their Comments and ask Questions, with that Blog I aim to build a Relationship with an Audience that has an interest in Writing and by providing useful information that way aim to grow them into possible future Customers for a Membership Site and/or for example things like (Paid) Consulting.

    ‘First providing them with
    all kinds of Free Help, Resources
    and Answers to Questions’.

    Their feedback might even Inspire me to – besides the tiny little (almost free) ebook I already (pre) sell on that blog – also create other Special Products for them. My most recent Post on that blog is a Post about Writing Goals, asking my Readers for their Feedback and how I can Help them.

    ‘BTW on my – Home Business Lifestyle – Blog
    You will discover a somewhat similar approach’.

    All the Best,
    To your Happy – Online Business – Inspiration,

    • Jon
      February 25, 2011 | 6:53 am

      It sounds like you have a good system, HP. Good job offering value first and fostering an interactive environment.

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