Category Archives: sales stategies

Is Free Really Free?

These days, everyone talks about free content. “Give it away!” they say, but does this really work?

Well, yes and no.

As with anything, there has to be a strategy.

I listened to an author friend of mine telling me about her morning run through her neighborhood. She noticed a number of garage sale signs . One of the signs had a sign beneath it that read: We have free stuff! As she ran, she passed that house and noticed they put all their free stuff in the “Free zone” and already, even at that early hour, hoards of people were migrating there. She passed the other garage sales which were doing OK, but not great. Clearly the one with the free stuff pulled more people, but did it actually sell more paid merchandise? Yes. She checked in with the sale after her run to find most of the good stuff gone. The homeowner said the free stuff went fast, but it wasn’t junk stuff, it was actually good enough to make the garage sale shopper feel like they got a real deal.

If it’s junk and it’s free, it doesn’t really matter.  What’s the lesson here? Free stuff can help you sell more of the paid merchandise, but you have to be careful, because some people just want freebies and that’s fine. But they are not your customers.

Here are some tips to help you maximize the use of free:

  1. Why free? The first question you should ask yourself is why are you doing this? If you aren’t sure, then free might not be right for you. Free content should be offered to help further your message, build a list, and get new people into your marketing funnel. If your model isn’t set up this way, maybe it should be. If you aren’t interested in this kind of a marketing model, then free probably isn’t your thing.
  2. Define how free can help: Figure out why you want to give free stuff. Getting clear about your model will help determine if a free product is even worth your time. If it is, then you need to figure out how it will help you. As an example, while Secrets of the Marriage Mouse was in the final editing, I wrote a companion workbook.  It’s nearly 200 pages of content and I give it away free at my live events when someone purchases Secrets of the Marriage Mouse.  Great value; you bet!  This pushes my book sales to around 82% of my audience.  Those are great numbers any way you look at them.  Why would I do this?  To build trust.  Trust and caring are important. Our free stuff builds our mailing list, yes, but it also builds trust.
  3. Make sure it’s really free: A lot of people have content that is purported to be free when it’s not really free. What I mean is that you get a sliver of it, not even a piece really worth mentioning, but the stuff you want is something you have to pay for. If you want to do free, make it free. Find something of value and give it to your customers.
  4. Make it something your end user wants: Make sure the free is something people want. If it isn’t you a) won’t bring in the right crowd of people (you’ll end up just getting the freebie hunters, and b) you won’t build your mailing list as fast. Virtually any electronic product is easy to create and deliver.
  5. Take names: You should never give free away without asking for an email address. I see people do this all the time; they have a ton of free stuff but never collect emails. If that’s the case, the freebies you are offering may be of great value to your end user but they won’t matter to your marketing. Get emails. You get something (their email) and give them something (the free stuff).
  6. Make it easy to get: Don’t make free difficult. What I mean is make it easy to get your free stuff. If people have to jump through hoops, they won’t do it and the free stuff won’t matter. Put your free stuff on your home page, or at least have a link to it. They sign up for your newsletter and they get your free stuff.  This is a pretty common tactic these days.  But when ask for their email, make it easy. A simple click or two is all it should take. Then, don’t ask for too much information. Ask for what you truly need.
  7. Call to action: Make sure that your free stuff has a call to action. You are collecting names and email addresses and building your list, that’s great. But what do you really want people to do? Define what you want them to do, and then include your call to action in the free stuff. Let’s face it, it’s a good piece – designed to help your reader – but it must also help you. It’s ok to promote your book on the last page, or encourage folks to do a consult with you if that’s what you offer. You can also offer specials and change these periodically in the giveaway.
  8. Follow up! The best kind of free stuff is, as I like to call it, the gift that keeps giving. Auto responders are a great system but often underutilized when it comes to marketing. If you are collecting names and then never contacting your prospects again, what’s the point? People need to be reminded, and reminded again. Now, you can also funnel folks into your newsletter as I mentioned earlier.
  9. Define what your market wants and then give it to them. No one knows your market like you do.

The real key here is that free stuff can work well for you in so many ways, but free stuff without a goal is just free. Great to get free stuff, right? But then how is all of this hard work going to pay off for you?  I can tell how and when my free offer works to increase my market and to increase my sales.

Marcia Reece, the inventor of Sidewalk Chalk, is the #1 Bestselling author of Secrets of the Marriage Mouse and The Ultimate Online Media Directory. She serves as the founder of Aspen Support Group. Her latest book is available on her website at www.marciareece.com or on Amazon.com

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Nike is absolutely right. Just Do It!

Despite what we may think about the power and flood of information coming at us from a multitude of different places, there is still something we all crave: consistency.

We want it.

We need it.

We value it.

So Just Do It; right?

No matter what your platform, no matter how you send out your information, the importance of consistency can’t be overlooked. 

We all have so much coming at us all day long, but we do look at what resonates with us.  If you have your message targeted to your key audience, they will want to read what you have to say.  

If you’re sending to people who have no interest in your work, they hit the delete button.  This makes it critically important to know your audience and give them what they want.  Each and every time!  If you expect your favorite show to be on a certain channel at a certain time each day, you will stop what you are doing and tune in – regardless of how busy you are.  

We are creatures of habit. 

Keep your followers happy by giving them what they want when they expect to get it and they will continue to follow you and pass the word to their networks who are interested in what you have to say.    

The value of being consistent became very Real to me many years ago when I was trying to get Wal-Mart (when they had only 66 stores) to buy my product.  I called my buyer every morning, precisely at 9:00 a.m.  I did not call at 8:57 a.m. and I did not call at 9:02 a.m.  I called for 46 mornings in a row precisely at 9:00 a.m.  On the 46th morning, my buyer’s assistant told me my buyer would see me at 11:00 a.m. that day!!  Well, the rest is history and the consistency of that phone call started a chain of events that changed my life and grew my company to 72% worldwide market share … far beyond my wildest dreams.  

Those on the A-Team or the TCO Groups are learning about the value of consistency. I know consistency continues to make a difference in my world every day.

Marcia Reece, the inventor of Sidewalk Chalk, is the #1 Bestselling author of Secrets of the Marriage Mouse and The Ultimate Online Media Directory. She serves as the founder of Aspen Support Group. Her latest book is available on her website at www.marciareece.com or on Amazon.com

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Would You? Could You?? Should You???

Last week at the Executive Roundtable one of the authors there admitted to “reverse shoplifting” and actually putting their book on the shelves of a store where they wanted it to sell…and it did sell!!  I’ve thought about doing this and never have.

Many years ago when I was in the toy industry, the company with whom I was working was launching a new Piggy Belly toy. It was debuting at Target. Over our lunch hour, we all went into the area Targets and each bought two Piggy Belly toys. Not quite the same as reverse shoplifting, but the principle is nearly the same.

Just for the heck of it, next week I’m taking my books into 3 retailers and leaving them on the shelves…as a gift from me. Does it sound as bad if it’s referred to as a “gift” instead of “reverse shoplifting”?

Chime in and let’s be honest here…how many of you have ever rigged your sales by forced purchasing or reverse shoplifted? Just suggesting we aren’t getting any younger and what the heck…it might be fun.

Let me know if this marketing strategy pays off for you. Listening to George Clooney and Jimmy Kimmel talk about pranks they play must have brought this out in me.  Who knows? I’m usually way to squeaky clean, straight laced.

P.S.:  Maybe we should take it a step further and leave stacks of bookmarks in the washrooms of the stores where you leave your books or other strategic places?  What says You??

Marcia Reece, the inventor of Sidewalk Chalk, is the #1 Bestselling author of Secrets of the Marriage Mouse and The Ultimate Online Media Directory. She serves as the founder of Aspen Support Group. Her latest book is available on her website at www.marciareece.com or on Amazon.com

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