Let’s be honest, as solopreneurs and small teams, a big budget for tv, print, or online advertising probably aren’t realistic in the beginning. What you can budget in, however, is your ability to offer value for free. It can be a very effective marketing tool, more effective than advertising. Have you ever been to Costco on a Saturday? Those friendly people standing at the end of the aisles in red vests aren’t reading ingredients from boxes. They’re giving away free samples! Trust me, I know them. (And thanks to #Rona, I miss them terribly!)
Allowing potential clients to sample your goods or an opportunity to experience your expertise can keep you ahead of the curve and way above the competition. Some business owners fear that giving away free stuff devalues their business when, in fact, it can have the exact opposite effect. Side note: I’m not saying give away your entire service for free. Because in the words of one of my business mentors, Nicole Walters, “we don’t do free.” We give value and show up consistently. Buyers get a chance to see your product’s value, which can also create more clients via word of mouth. How many times have you come across a fantastic product and kept it to yourself? Exactly.
Sharing free downloads or bite-sized samples of your product can also build familiarity and trust amongst you and your soon-to-be clients. In a space where millions are competing for new business, allowing them a sneak peek of who you are, what you have to offer makes people feel more at ease when spending their money with you.
So, let’s say you decide to offer your potential clients something for free. Here are three things to think about when getting started:
Develop a strategy
Just as you would plan your advertising budget, you should also make sure you have a plan in place for your giveaways, contests, value-packed downloads and more. How many freebies are you offering, and for what length of time? Is your product something you can offer digitally, or do you have a product that requires shipping and handling? If so, are you going to cover that cost, or will you need your customers to cover S&H? If your product is digital, is it an easily downloadable pdf? Can it be downloaded on a desktop and a mobile device? These are just a few examples of things you should think about when mapping out a strategy.
Decide what you should give away
When content is your product, you need to be strategic about what you’re giving away. The main goal is to show value in what you have to offer. At the same time, however, you don’t want to give away too For example, if your product is an online class, you can offer a free module teaser with take-away materials and an invite to join the entire membership/class. If you’re a consulting business, free 15-minute consultations are another way to build trust and value amongst your people.
Pro Tip: During these giveaway opportunities definitely focus on showing your audience the “what” behind your expertise, but make sure they pay you money to get access to the “how.”
Promote your giveaways via social media
What better way to get your followers engaged than sharing it in a place they’re already hanging out on! Depending on the platform you decide to use, there are several different methods you can employ. For example, on YouTube, you can offer a freebie to the first 100 subscribers. On Twitter, give something away for the first 100 retweets and follows. You get the idea. Your methods can be creative, simple, and it’s a great way to get your potential clients to engage other potential clients.
I understand that the word “free” can be a bit unsettling. In fact, it gives me the “ick” factor — call me a jaded marketer if you must! But in the grand scheme of things, offering your clients a slice of what you have at zero cost can increase your sales and boost brand awareness. Don’t be afraid of giving a little to get a lot in return. Interested in brainstorming more strategies for promoting your business online? Let’s chat!