How To Give Away Free Stuff (Without Hurting Sales)

Marketing Show 0003

Hi, this Clay. Welcome to this episode of the Marketing Show. Today we’re going to be talking about how to create free products, free e-books, free reports, free videos, whatever, free stuff that helps your business instead of hurting it, right? A lot of times people think that if they give free stuff away, it’s going to decrease the likelihood that people are going to buy their main product, and in a lot of cases, people are right. So I’m going to give you the principles behind creating free stuff that helps your business instead of hurting it.

And I was inspired to create this post by this picture I saw. Let’s see if we can get that on the screen. Yup. So by this picture I saw, that my friend Chris showed me the other day. And just so know that’s an example of how to, you know, give stuff away incorrectly.

So here are the principles that are going to result in free stuff that you give away that actually builds your business, results in more people buying your main product, not fewer people buying your main product. And the principles are these…

Your free product creates desire-based tension and inspires people and doesn’t give steps to final destination.

Now, before you start thinking I’m, you know, doing some stuff that you don’t agree with, let’s break this down. So the purpose of good marketing, all good marketing, is to create desire-based tension. I was thinking the other day of like, what’s a good definition of marketing and this is the best definition I could come up with. Good marketing creates desire-based tension. It does not relieve desire-based tension.

So, you know, for example, let’s use the free stuff example. If I go to a restaurant and they give me just an amazing morsel, an amazing sample of a gourmet meal and I like it and I realize that I’m hungry because I just had this sample and I realize that I want more of it, what that restaurant has done is they have created desire-based tension. I now am experiencing tension after I have experienced the free sample, because I want more of it and I don’t have more of it. So that creates this tension that gets me to buy that amazing meal. Okay?

What most people do is instead of creating tension with their free stuff, they release that desire-based tension. So you want to create marketing that creates tension and that does not relieve it – and I’m not talking about anxiety. What I’m talking about, in most cases, is inspiring people.

So if someone believes that something that they want to do that they previously believed they could not do, if you can convince them that that thing is now possible for them, then that creates desire-based tension because they want to go somewhere, they don’t know how to go there themselves, but they now believe that they can do it because you’ve proven to them, let’s say, in your free material that they can accomplish something that they previously thought they could not accomplish. That’s an amazing way to create desire-based tension.

Let’s use the weight-loss market, for example. If you can convince someone who has tried everything to lose weight, if you can convince that person that they can indeed lose weight after all, then you will create desire-based tension.

If you have someone who their entire life has, you know, struggled to learn a given language and you can prove to them that it’s possible for them, then you’ve created desire-based tension because you’ve inspired them to believe that something that they believed was previously not possible is now possible. So the best way to create desire based tension, like I said before, is to inspire people which I think is a wonderful thing that you can do for someone if it’s done ethically, if it’s done honestly, and if you only inspire people to do things who can actually do it. Don’t make any false promises.

The third thing here is that when you’re creating free stuff that helps your business instead of hurting it, is that you give free stuff away that doesn’t give steps to the final destination. You can give people steps that move them closer to their final destination. But if you give people steps to their final destination in your free product, what you’re going to do is you’re going to give them the illusion that they have all the information they need to achieve the desired outcome without them actually having that information.

So if I were to say to a lot of people who are looking to increase their marketing that they needed to do like how to know eight things, let’s say I broke it down to eight steps and I gave them those eight steps, a lot of people will believe that because they understand conceptually what needs to be done that they can actually go do it. And that’s going to not create desire-based tension but relieve that desire-based tension.

And, you know, eventually, they’re going to find out as they try and do each of those steps that they actually need a more specific action plan. Okay? So if you give most people a map to the gold, they will believe they can actually get to that gold. But often there are rivers that need to be crossed that they can’t cross on their own. There’s, you know, moats and booby traps and all kinds of things going on. But if they just see that map, they’re going to falsely believe that they can accomplish something on their own without your big product that they actually can’t accomplish without your product.

So when you create free stuff, try not to give steps; prove to them that they can accomplish it. Show them a picture of the gold, but don’t give them a map to that gold even if that map is incomplete and even if they need your course to sort of finalize that map or to effectively use that map to get to where they need to go.

Now, I understand there might be some marketing nerd or, you know, intelligent people could disagree with me about that third point and, you know, refer to specific cases that may or may not be applicable, but this is what has worked for me incredibly well. This is what has worked for my clients incredibly well. And to the extent that this makes sense for you in your business, I encourage you to use this. Again, the main thing is this one here at the top, make sure that you’re marketing creates desire-based tension and does not relieve it.

So that’s it for this marketing show. Thank you so much for joining me today and I will talk to you in the next episode. Take care.

Play
  • Disqus was down. Now it’s up. You can leave comments now 🙂

  • This is so true. I don’t know how many people I’ve given false positives to in the past, just like this – they think they’re ready to go conquer the world and do it on their own, and fall flat on their face. It’s sometimes very tough to keep from crossing that line because we as teachers want to TEACH. But what I’ve realized is that we’re really doing a HUGE disservice to our clients when we do this.

    Clay – What about giving them steps, and then maybe expanding on just one of those steps, but making it absolutely clear that each of the steps are much more in depth and they really need the extra information to succeed. Do you think just having the steps laid out will still cause most people to think they have enough to do it alone?

    What I’m wrestling with is that people often really like FRAMEWORKS to digest information better and make it sound easy to follow. So where’s that line that we don’t want to cross?

    • In your freeline content I would (1) inspire them in a way that helps them believe they can do it (if they really can) (2) break down myths and common misconceptions, (3) talk about common mistakes, (4) tell moving stories of transformation . . . but I would not give big-picture steps under almost any condition. Too big of a risk of generating a “false positives.”

  • This all makes sense to me, but I’m still a little fuzzy on what we should provide INSTEAD of steps. You’ve given me some ideas in your reply to Sean, but I can’t quite wrap my head around it.

    Many of the folks I admire advocate giving tremendous value, even in free material. To me, useful = providing a solution to a problem (even a tiny one). Are these ideas incompatible, or am I just missing a piece?