Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The power of FREE

You could argue that free is bad:

That free gives no value.
That free wastes people’s time.
That free is setting your business up for failure.

Or you could argue that free is good:

That free DOES give value.
That free captures attention.
That free brings customers into your sales funnel.

I’m gonna go with door #1. For 6 reasons:

FREE helps others.
Don’t be selfish with your knowledge. Give stuff – information, ideas and like – away for free to help people.

FREE pays it forward. How many times have you been give priceless pieces of wisdom? Did you pay for it? Doubtful. Return the favor. Except, don’t return it; pay it forward. Great example here.

FREE gives value first. Huge rule in business. Free information shows that you have knowledge and expertise. I’ve given dozens of free speeches in my life, and subsequently booked paying gig as a result. So, give it away for free the first time, and the people who received value from it will come back to you the second time. And the third, and the fourth, and the fifth…

FREE wins fans. How many times have you heard a song on the radio, LOVED IT, then went out and bought the album? Probably lots. Because you were a fan of the music. Hence, free creates (and ultimately helps retain) fans. Think iTunes’ free music Tuesday. Brilliant. It's a simple formula: break the silence, make the mundane memorable, turn strangers into friends, friends into fans and fans into sales.

FREE tests the waters.
Maybe you have new ideas that you’re not sure about yet. I say, post them on a blog and get free feedback before you break the bank. Maybe people will see stuff you never thought of. Maybe people will love your ideas! Maybe people will say, “That sucks!” Either way, it’s good to know.

FREE culture of dishonesty. Thanks to Enron, James Frey and a multitude of other big name liars, customers are skeptical before buying stuff. So, give something to them for free first, disarm their immediate preoccupation, and win them over. If they like you, they'll be back.

The reason I posted about this today is because a woman called me recently and said (jokingly, I think), “Scott, you have way too much free stuff on your website! I’ve been there all afternoon!”

First of all, thanks! All afternoon? Wow. Most web users stay on the average sit for 90 seconds. Nice.

Secondly, are you complaining?

Thirdly, maybe you’re right. Maybe 100+ articles, 5 FREE ebooks and several videos are too many things to give away for FREE. Maybe I’m afraid to sell. Maybe I’m afraid that charging people will lose people.


All I know is, in the history of my business, FREE has been the absolute #1 most valuable marketing technique for spreading WOM, attracting fans and increasing visibility, thus increasing sales.

So there.

What are you giving away for free?

Email scott@hellomynameisscott.com with your best "free offering," and I'll post the top three on this blog next week.

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Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

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