- building a multiple 6- or 7-figure empire, or…
- seriously screwing up your financial future.
Here’s what I mean:
- Figure out what your potential clients/customers ask for most often.
- Create a high-value piece of content (like a report, course, challenge, webinar, video) that gives those potential clients exactly what they’ve been asking for.
- Offer your high-value piece of content to those potential clients. For free.
- Wash, rinse and repeat this process constantly, consistently and eternally. Until you burnout. Or die. Whichever comes first.
Now, the first 3 steps of this process are no surprise to you. It’s an Internet marketing tale as old as time: create a super-fabulous free offer that’s sure to dazzle your potential clients so they opt-in to your email list, get to know, like and trust you, and eventually invest in your top-dollar programs and products.
But that fourth step… that’s the one that has me scratching my head, squinting my eyes, peering into my crystal ball and wondering… are we seriously screwing ourselves here?
Because it seems, from what I’m witnessing, that one or even two amazing free offers are no longer enough. No, if you’re going to make it as an online entrepreneur, you have to be constantly creating and giving away great big gobs of mind-blowing content.
All the time.
Oh, and it’s not enough to give away tips, insights and information on your blog. After all, everyone does that. No, in addition to your blog and other contributions to social media, you need to be offering free webinars, free 5-day challenges, free video trainings, free eBooks, templates and strategy secrets.
And yes… and even free one-on-one sessions.
Oh, and don’t forget the free Facebook Group you need to create so you can spend hours and hours every week giving away your time, expertise and support to those who ask to join.
This is the marketing trend I’m seeing online, especially among coaches, consultants and other service-based entrepreneurs.
I call it The Free Frenzy.
Why in the World Would Any Entrepreneur In Her Right Mind…?
The reasoning behind this Free Frenzy is no different than the reasoning behind giving away one free offer:
You do it to attract more fans, build a tribe, dazzle that tribe with your brilliance and turn them into paying clients willing to invest in your $1,997 coaching program. Or your $10,000 Mastermind.
But does the Free Frenzy really work?
It seems to have worked really well… for some.
But only within a certain context and under certain circumstances.
I’ll admit I’ve drunk the Kool-aid and become somewhat infatuated with the Free Frenzy way of marketing. Over this past year, I’ve offered a series of information-packed free webinars (The Copywriting Cabaret) where I gave away formulas, templates, techniques and tips no copywriter in her right mind would dream of giving away.
Then, I gave away free copywriting makeovers. Makeovers I would normally charge anywhere from $300-1,000.
Recently, I spent weeks creating and then offering a free 5-day course where I gave participants step-by-step guidelines, feedback and personal support on how to create, title and promote their own truly fabulous free offer. The irony is not lost on me.
And I have a free eBook that I was going to sell for $29. But because of this new “give it all away for free” philosophy, I changed me mind.
Did this avalanche of free help my business?
No. And yes.
But First… a Simple Economic Equation
When something is free, it’s value is zero. Plain and simple.
Even if the information within this free thing is worth thousands, it is valued at zero.
So, your free offer? Your potential clients will value it at about… zero. Because that’s the going rate for the brilliance and expertise you just shared in that free offer.
As far as I can see, if you choose to keep offering your hard-won expertise and know-how for nothing, over and over again, it will become worth nothing.
Yes, it may very well help you build a tribe of people who adore you and eagerly invest in your big high ticket programs. But then again, it may not.
Either way, you have seriously devalued your work, your genius and all the training and hard-won experience it took to create that yummy piece of content you just gave away for free.
When I was in the middle of my free 5-day course offering, spending hours a day helping a handful of entrepreneurs create their own fabulous free offer, I read a blog post by my friend and colleague, Blair Glaser called Speaking Freely on the High Cost of Free.
Blair’s response to this trend to give more and more away for free was to just stop. Because she could see the writing on the wall. The Free Frenzy, while beneficial to some select entrepreneurs, could “knock your average online entrepreneur out of his or her own sense of authority in regards to their marketing strategies and offerings” and “signal to a potential participant [client] that it isn’t really worth their time.”
And then she did something radical.
She announced that not only would she no longer be offering free webinars, she pulled the 2 free webinars she was currently offering off of the “free” shelf in order to sell them as fairly priced mini-courses. Her explanation says it all:
“I deeply respect my work and my offerings. They have been crafted with love and the utmost care to offer an experience of transformation in regards to the way you think about relationships. They’re sophisticated. Participants have called them “game changers.” Simply put: They’re worth more.”
It was Blair’s post that stopped me in my Free Frenzy tracks and made me remember the people I love, respect and admire most in the world: musicians.
That Song You Love… How Much Is It Worth?
I’m one of the few old fogies left who still pays for recorded music. Sure, I do my share of YouTube listening and yes, I log-on to Spotify. But mostly I do this to discover the music I want to buy.
But the majority of music listeners get their recorded music for free. Because they can. Almost every song, symphony, or live concert is available for free online, legal or no.
And as a result, recorded music is worth nothing.
And the musician who wrote and/or performed that song you have on replay because, damn, you dig it… that musician won’t see more than a few pennies for that song.
It doesn’t matter that the musician who wrote, arranged, orchestrated, recorded, and produced that song invested years of his or her life and tens of thousands of dollars (if not millions) to take that song from idea to fully produced masterpiece.
It doesn’t matter that that musician spent most of his or her life studying, training and practicing his or her ass off in order to have the chops to write and record such a song.
It doesn’t matter how much money, genius, creativity, technical skill and hard cold cash went into making that recording.
It’s still worth nothing. Because nothing is what you paid for it.
And every time you listen to that free song you just downloaded, you bury the value of that song a little deeper into the multiple negative digits.
So, as you sweat bullets creating another piece of killer content that you plan to give away for free, one that is filled to the brim with material either you or your colleagues would normally charge a good hefty fee for… it may attract a ton of new, engaged clients.
Or it could just make your work worth zero.
But not only your work. The work of other online entrepreneurs in your field. And perhaps the work of generations to come.
Because by giving away our very best, not just once but again and again and again, aren’t we telling generations of potential clients and consumers that our work, our expertise and even our commitment to them is worth zero?
Unlike the recording industry, which was screwed by those who abused the freedom of the Internet and stole music, we aren’t being screwed; we’re screwing ourselves.
I don’t have one.
What feels critical now is to be asking questions. To stay aware. To step back, take stock and perhaps talk with those we trust before we throw ourselves into the Free Frenzy. Or decide that enough is enough.
After talking with Blair and another trusted colleague, I wanted to organize a virtual confab and conversation with entrepreneurs on both sides of the issue: those who believe in the value of the Free Frenzy and those who feel it’s damaging the viability and sanity of our businesses.
But before I do, I want to hear from you.
What do you think about the Free Frenzy we are currently witnessing?
Are you giving more and more away for free these days or do you have one great free offer and that’s that?
How is the flurry of free affecting or influencing your marketing or your business as a whole?
And would you come if I organized a virtual confab and conversation among those who believe in the free, free, and more free way of marketing and those who don’t?
Oh, and of course, this virtual confab would be free. (Geez.)
Let me know in the comments below.