So I'm going to get a bit controversial tonight. You know those free downloads, giveaway promotions or that old chestnut, the "free" webinar promising loads but delivering almost nothing - unless you sign up to the full course? I hate them. They do nothing for me as a consumer, and they do even less for me as a business owner. And I'm going to tell you why.
We are all saturated with sales and marketing messages. All day, every day. And so one of the most basic requirements for businesses to be successful in this landscape is to have a compelling point of difference - and even better, a number of them. So if we think about the law of supply and demand - that is, demand (and price) increases as supply decreases, if you are trying to create demand for something that the market already has a HEAP of, you're really going to struggle. And if you don't have a meaningful point of difference, even more so.
Let's take the old free download as an example. Now I am all for lead generation - if you know me you'll know I am a salesperson at heart, and I am all about the hustle! But I am also all about generating real, organic business through genuine, long term relationships. And if you are selling on price, you're not selling on value. And value is the only way create sustainable demand for your product or service, and long term engagement with your brand. You might be thinking, "Lanna, you're being a bit mean. My free download is awesome". And I'm sure it is! But if you are using a giveaway as your primary lead generator - i.e. it is your first point of contact with a potential customer - you are already engaging that customer in a way that is going to create downward price pressure on your product or service. Because you were giving it away from the get-go.
Let's look at it from a different angle. In the age of digital marketing, our email addresses have become more valuable than ever. I know I rarely give my email address out unless I am engaged and ready to buy. And what makes a consumer ready to buy? It used to be widely accepted that to generate a sale you needed to create around 7 consumer touch points - that is, the customer needed to 'touch' your brand seven times before they were ready to buy. Today? Recent research shows it is now close to double that - because consumers are more savvy, more demanding and more discerning. They do their research, they need to connect with you, they need to be 'ready'. They need to trust you. So why undermine that entire pre-purchase process by giving the game away before they've even connected with you?
Now I'm not saying I think you should make your customers pay for everything. This very blog post is proof of that! But I strongly believe that you are eroding your brand and particularly your paid products or services by utilising freebie marketing. Your brand should be strong enough to stand on its own, without gimmicks or ploys. And again I go back to the fact that EVERYBODY is utilising the carrot-on-a-stick method of email marketing. Why would you want to do what everybody else is going?
So what to do instead? As I've mentioned, it is a very competitive market out there and most businesses out there have to work at attracting new customers. The best way to create long term relationships is the same as it always was - have a strong brand, with a strong point of difference, have a strong sales & marketing approach and focus on understanding your target market and delivering as much VALUE for them as you can. I actually think getting back to basics is even more important in today's modern environment. Consumers are looking for authenticity and REAL connection. Create meaningful dialogue in other ways - stay true to your brand values and stand firm in your pricing. If you undervalue your brand, how do you ever expect your customers to be able to value it?
If you are interested in finding out more about selling on value, our upcoming 'Sales is NOT a Dirty Word' e-course kicks off on April 19th. Click here to enrol - only six places in each course intake.