The Power of Complimentary

Today’s biggest marketing challenge is getting people’s attention, then getting their trust. One way to completely knock down the trust issue is to let prospects receive a small sample of value from you at no charge. Because the trust factor is at an all-time historical low, you as an entrepreneur need to do one or more of several things before clients will do business with you in most cases:

  1. Spend a lot of time developing individual relationships until people trust you,
  2. Provide a complimentary sample of value up front,
  3. Spend a lot of time in the proposal stage wooing the prospect.

Of those three choices, the complimentary sample is the lowest cost, especially if it can be massed-produced and delivered automatically via a web site or email. Even if you have to do all three (which in some cases, you do), providing something for free will shorten the time you need to spend doing the other two things.

What can we offer for free?

  1. A free newsletter (no less frequently than every other week).
  2. A free report.
  3. A free video or DVD.
  4. A free audio, MP3, CD, or podcast.
  5. A free consulting, coaching or phone session.
  6. A free proof-of-concept.
  7. A free 30-day trial, as is common in software and memberships.
  8. A free sample, such as toothpaste or shampoo.
  9. A free serving of food.
  10. A free quiz or evaluation.

As you can see, you have numerous choices depending on what you have for sale. The point is to allow your prospect the ability to sample or taste what you have to offer, providing good value, but not giving away the farm. If you offer information, coaching, or consulting, then your free offer will need to address one of the following:

  1. The 3, 5, or 7 biggest mistakes that people like your prospect make when they use your services. For example, if you sell flowers, offer the 3 mistakes when giving flowers – one could be never send poinsettias to a cat owner because they are poisonous.
  2. The 3, 5, or 7 things you need to know before you hire a person like you. For example, if you are a coach, offer the 7 things you need to know before you hire a coach – one being never hire a coach who hasn’t paid her coach as much as she is asking her clients for.
  3. The 3, 5, or 7 most overlooked secrets to performing the service you do. For example, if you are a tax accountant, offer the 3 most overlooked tax deductions for 2011 – one being the making- work-pay credit that no one has heard about this year.

An important element to successfully attracting prospects with your free offer is to make it irresistible. Unfortunately, that also means taking a negative or dramatic slant. No one likes to make a mistake, and we’re completely curious as to whether we are making a mistake, so we will be drawn to a report that helps us avoid mistakes, more so than a report that gives us 3, 5, or 7 tips. If you can provide tips that will keep us from losing money, that will get our attention as well.

Here are a few more best-practice tips for positioning your free offering:

  1. Always require something from your prospect in return for your free gift, such as their email address or phone number. Don’t forget your privacy policy and the can-spam laws.
  2. Remember that you will need to market your free offering just like you do your regular service.
  3. If you offer something that takes up your time like a free call, have your prospect self-qualify by requiring them to complete a longer form than just their email address. Ask questions that will give you good information about their situation relative to the service you offer. Turn the call into a sales call after you’ve provided value. People will expect this anyway.
  4. Once prospects have accepted your initial free offer, move them up your marketing funnel into a low-dollar purchase or collect more information from them, such as address. Keep moving them up the funnel as they build their trust in you.

Try these tips to get people’s attention as well as to get past the low-trust barrier with prospects who are strangers.