How To Destroy A Relationship In 5 Seconds Or Less By Offering A Thoughtless Gift, Even If You MEANT It To Be Useful
Don’t risk losing loyal customers or damaging your reputation by offering cheap gifts in exchange for email addresses.

What is the first thing you think of when you picture an example of a FREEBIE?

A pen? Branded tote? Temporary tattoo? Maybe a t-shirt or key ring?

Something, like that, right?

A freebie is usually something of very low value that a business can give away to thousands of people without breaking the bank.

Fairly straight forward and legit.

But, for our purposes, marketing, business building, and eCommerce, I need you to forget what you think you know. Because when it comes to offering a freebie to your prospects in exchange for their email address, your choice of “freebie” becomes astronomically important.

It’s not just that the right freebie will help to maximize your conversion rates.

It’s not just that the right freebie will improve the open rates of your emails, increasing your overall profits.

It’s that the lasting perception of YOU and your BUSINESS can be defined by that freebie.

That is huge. HUGE!

If your prospects and customers remember you at all, what they’ll most likely recall are the first and most recent interactions. While you can always aim to improve your ongoing efforts, making the most recent interactions better, more valuable, you can’t go back and change that initial first rendezvous with your business.

If that first impression is that you’re a giver of cheap, valueless poo that you can get from a local gas station…

That’s a wound from which the relationship between business and consumer may never fully recover.

This is exactly why the word “freemium” was born in our company. “Freebie” invokes images of something cheap and flimsy. “Freemium” reminds us that we should never give away something that doesn’t have real, PREMIUM worth.

One smidge of good news in all this is that most businesses are still giving away literal crap (read: poop emoji keychain, I kid you not. I got one as seen below), so it’s not an especially high bar to clear.

PoopEmoji
This is an example of what not to give. It may be cute to a Kindergartner, but useless to a business owner.

But you DO have to clear it.

Freemium #1 – Valuable Information

The first freemium that you gift to your prospects is the most critical.

You cannot go wrong by offering useful, valuable information that isn’t readily available elsewhere. At least not for free.

A PDF report is perfectly adequate, providing the content is solid and the production values are sharp.

Length is not critical (although it certainly doesn’t hurt) as long as the quality is good and the information is going to shower the reader with lots of “WOW” and hearty pieces of meaty data.

If you don’t have that level of knowledge and expertise to share, you need to bring someone in who does.

You can step up the perceived value still further by presenting the information in video form. But if you opt for this format, you should be giving away a series of videos, in the form of tutorials, rather than a single recording.

I wouldn’t attempt to produce video material yourself unless you have experience in video production. It’s way too easy to wind up with something that’s just awful, or looks like your elementary aged kids filmed it for you.

It doesn’t matter how good the intention is, done incorrectly it will make you and your business look incompetent.

However, as long as you can write a decent script, you can hire a voiceover artist to record the audio, and a video designer to produce the visuals. And, as with the PDF, quality is more important than quantity.

Don’t be afraid to give away your expertise in your Freemium. The more willing you are to share your best stuff, upfront, and without charge, the more likely you are to build a loyal following of both future and current customers.

Freemium #2 – Additional Formats

The 3:1 ratio of gift to offer means you’re going to need more than one Freemium. If you can easily do more of the first gift, that’s fantastic. But you can stretch your initial creation even further by reproducing the content in different formats.

A PDF report is a good place to start because it maximizes your reach, but a good portion of your audience will welcome the opportunity to consume your material in audio form.

This is ridiculously easy to produce (you can do it yourself if you have a nice reading voice – or hire a voice-over artist) and, again, has a high perceived value.

It also increases the likelihood that your prospects will actually read your material. Don’t ever think of your Freemium as JUST a token gift to obtain email addresses. The value you put into the Freemium helps you to move up the ladder of intimacy, which only happens if people absorb at least some of your exceptional content.

Another way to re-purpose your initial material is to create one or more mind maps based on that information. There’s an art to boiling down your critical teaching points into a mind map and, once you crack it, it’s truly incredible how much value you can successfully cram into one document.

Mind maps also have great perceived value because… frankly… they look impressive. This is a great format for proving that you really are giving away a substantial volume of important and useful information.

Finally, after your first three significant gifts, you can shift your focus to posting new articles on your website or snippets of interesting and valuable information sent directly in the email.

The key to building these relationships is that the potential customers never feel as if EVERY email that lands in their inbox is yet another attempt to “sell” them, or deliver another tired sales pitch. Don’t forget, climbing the ladder of intimacy frequently calls for you to be the one to take the next step up.

Freemium #3 – Webinars (you totally knew this coming!)

I’ve saved this one until the end because it’s a catch-all Freemium that can be used by anyone, in any niche, at any point in the relationship.

It’s a TOP NOTCH Freemium to offer as the very first gift.

It’s a SUPERB Freemium to offer as any subsequent gift.

And it’s a PERFECT solution for creating content that can be repurposed into other formats further down the line.

Webinars always have a high-perceived value, primarily because your prospects are getting YOU, the expert, live on video to teach them something amazing. There is no other freemium format that can match that level of awesomeness.

The secondary value comes from the interaction that is offered via Live Chat, Q&A sessions, surveys, and even (if you’re using WebinarJam) the ability to bring some of your prospects into the live presentation through their webcam.

And don’t be concerned over whether you might lose a few conversion points because not everyone will be available during your webinar slot. What you might loss in a slightly lower conversion rate (and it’s not a given – you should test this with your market), you’ll more than gain through a more active, more engaged audience.

You can even tackle attendance challenges head-on by doing multiple webinars at different days and times, making a recording of the webinar available after the event, or using pre-recorded webinar software, like EverWebinar.

Once your event is finished, and you have the recording in hand, you have all the time in the world to have the content transcribed and turned into articles, reports, audio, social media posts… the list goes on.

Yes, preparing and hosting a webinar takes a little more effort than producing a PDF, but the additional gains make this the #1 choice for Freemiums.

And there’s that word again… Freemium.

If the goal of this part of your business empire building is to overwhelm your prospects with unexpected value, without asking any more of them than their email address, that means putting in greater effort than most business owners have the guts or the brains to achieve.

***

Businesses give away cheapie freebies because they can’t afford to give every customer a Ferrari as an introduction. But online businesses have the advantage of digital replication.

Giving away ten thousand copies of your PDF costs virtually the same as giving away ten. Presenting a webinar to 500 people, costs the same as presenting a webinar to 5 (assuming you’re using WebinarJam, of course).

Have you heard the expression, “Go big or go home?”

I prefer,

Go big or watch your business fade away into the tepid morass of homogenized online businesses that promise much and deliver little.

It’s not as catchy, but it’s far more accurate.

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