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Thanks for sticking with me to the end of this series. I know it’s a little mind-numbing to conceive of and process all the things that go into making a sale. Face it, being in business is not always easy! If you’re reading this, you are probably a lot like me – not a nine-to-fiver getting a paycheck at the end of the week and spending two weeks of pre-designated vacation time with your 2.5 kids.
You probably work a lot. But you probably also have a passion for what you do and your business is more than a job; it’s a calling, maybe even the .5 of your 2.5 kids. So you’ve got a lot personally riding on your business success, and that makes all the time and effort worth it.
I’ve saved this tip for last because if you’ve gotten this far it means you care about your business and are willing to do what it takes to make it great. It’s not for the faint-of-heart. It’s not for the lazy, the unmotivated or anyone who just wants the paycheck and the ability to go home afterwards. It’s for those of you who – like me – take personal responsibility for and pride in making your businesses succeed.
What I’m about to tell you to do may seem counterintuitive to the very idea of running a business but if you’ve got the passion, dedication and expertise, it can be the fastest path to winning loyal customers.
Tip #14: Give It Away
Yes, give it away. Take your best, your brightest, your most valuable thoughts and ideas and give them away. No strings attached. I’m not talking about doing pro bono work, I’m talking about giving away something for free to anyone and everyone who asks.
There are two kinds of freebies; the self-serving and the selfless. I’ll walk you through both so you can decide how to make these ideas work for you.
The “Self-Serving” Freebie: Consultations And Partial Offers
This is the most common type of “deal” you see people giving away. I like to think of it as a teaser because it’s something that costs you little to nothing, something you may do anyway that you’ve simply packaged in marketing-ese, or something that has the explicit goal of enticing someone to pay you for something additional later.
These types of freebies have their place and can act as an incentive for a prospect who is on the fence. The most common offer in this category is the “free consultation”. If you’re in the service industry you already know that most people don’t think they should pay you to “think”.
Selling consultation time is tough because there generally isn’t a tangible deliverable and your customer won’t have a pretty, shiny object to look at fondly to remind him of money well-spent.
Lots of people offer free consultations; landscapers, contractors, financial planners, that guy who wants to sell you a full-house water filtration unit (you know the one, he shows up with a bunch of fancy-sounding chemicals to prove how nasty your water is and how clean it could be if you buy his product).
These offers are designed to sell you something but lead you to it gently. Once the landscaper sits with you for an hour to talk petunias and waterfalls, you’re already invested. He’s got something his competition doesn’t and that’s your attention.
You can offer a free consultation as part of your business process, too. When properly designed and executed, you can give your prospect just enough information to set the lure and make it a little harder for her to say, “no” later.
Free consultations are a friendly, soft-sell way to demonstrate expertise and gain trust. They can push your prospect off the fence and give you the extra edge you need to make the sale.
But there is an inherent flaw in this model; can you see it? The problem is – who isn’t offering a free consultation these days? I know I do! So you almost have to offer one just to keep up with the competition, not necessarily to stand out.
A good idea, and I’d still advise you to consider how you can make it work for you, but there’s more. Before we get to the “more”, let’s talk about the other type of self-serving freebie – the partial offer.
Many service providers do this. Authors do it to great advantage. The trick is to give your prospect just enough to whet her whistle but not enough to be satisfied. In the author’s case, she gives you the first chapter, or maybe the first six. But never the last.
So you read, you become interested, and now you must know what happens so you’re far more willing to spend money on the book than if you’d simply read a great review.
It works. I know because I’ve bought many of those books! But ultimately, is it really free? You can offer someone a bite of your death-by-chocolate-cake, but that doesn’t make dessert free.
So while these are both great ideas for enticing prospects, there’s another option that’s not meant to entice, but is even more enticing because of it.
The Selfless Freebie: Giving Your Best Away In Exchange For… Nothing at All
Here’s where I start to sound like a crazy person, but I can tell you it works. It’s worked for my business. It’s worked for the businesses of colleagues. It’s worked for many businesses that I admire and respect (it’s the reason I admire and respect them), and it can work for you.
Here’s what you do: create something that has value to your audience and give it to them. That’s it.
The form your freebie takes will depend on your business, but many times it comes in the form of some type of educational material; an eBook (or a real book), a video tutorial, a webinar. Something you’d otherwise expect to get paid for, except this time you’re giving it away.
You are not allowed to expect anything in return. This is a “kindness of the heart” gesture just because you love your customer base that much.
The key is that is has to be something of superior quality, and something of true value to your audience; not a mere three chapters but the whole book.
Sounds crazy, right? It’s not. When you offer something of value with no expectation of return, you’re not being altruistic, you’re being a smart business person. You’re investing in trust-building. You’re cultivating relationships. You’re engendering loyalty. You’re demonstrating expertise. You’re offering something that will literally make people wonder, “If that’s what I got for free, imagine what I’ll get if I pay for it!”
To do this successfully you need to know your audience and what they want. Then you need to produce something that they’ll flock to. How many email lists have you joined that promised a free “How To Do Everything And Get It Perfect In No Time For Free” video in exchange for your email address? Same premise, taken to the next level.
I want your content to be so great that your competition will wonder how you can afford to give away the thing they’ve been trying so hard to pretend is so complex that nobody but they could possibly do it (and for a hefty price tag).
And that, my friends, is what will pay dividends. While your competition is still trying to figure out how to convince, persuade, lure and when all else fails baffle prospects into working with them, you’ll be the industry leader that everyone rallies around.
It’s not feel-good fluff. This stuff has been proven to work time and again, for businesses that went from “surviving” to “million dollar”. Overnight? Not especially. Easily? Not really. But that wasn’t what I promised!
Now it’s up to you to decide what you can create that will make people turn around and pay attention.
What can you create that will give people a reason to look to you as the authority in your area of expertise? If you want ideas, tell me what business you’re in and I’ll brainstorm with you – for free!
Read More In The “Make The Sale” Series
- Tip 1: Qualify Your Leads
- Tip 2: Dress The Way You Want To Be Perceived
- Tip 3: Set Expectations
- Tip 4: Know Your S#*@
- Tip 5: Believe In Yourself
- Tip 6: Have A Personality
- Tip 7: Have Good Collateral Materials
- Tip 8: Don’t Sell Your Services
- Tip 9: Talk (And Learn) About Your Prospect
- Tip 10: Be Genuine
- Tip 11: Have A Good Website
- Tip 12: Follow Up
- Tip 13: Define Your “Je Ne Sais Quoi”
- Tip 14: Give It Away