Does FREE Still Make Sales?

November 25, 2008

Does offering free stuff still help to make sales? At one time “FREE” was a great buzzword but there’s so much free stuff available now, I have to wonder whether folk value things that are free.

According to James Chartrand, too much free stuff is given away online and people should be charging for it. He makes a good point; if we give away too many free things, we need to rely on advertisers to pay for it. And I certainly wouldn’t like to be dependent on ad sales in this economy.

When Is Free Good And When Does It Suck?

Three for the price of two, or buy one get the second half price seems to make sales. And useful content that makes the reader want to own a book version works well. Leo of Zen Habits attracted a swarm of buyers when he brought out the Zen Handbook - a collection of his best blogposts.

Giving away free chapters of an ebook can also increase sales, if the book is good. As do the free reports that act as a salesletter for another product.

Free Ebooks Work Better If They’re Viral

Free ebooks vary. I’ve downloaded some that would probably be ok to read in print, but small print and hundreds of pages don’t work well in ebook format. And free ebooks that contain affiliate links can work well if the reader has a compelling reason to pass them on to others.

Giving heaps of free stuff away with the product you’re selling seems to be popular, despite some of the ridiculous claims. If you’ve bought a $97 information product before, you’ll know that the free bonuses worth $2999, are often worthless crap. But those bonuses still help to make sales.

Naomi Dunford pulled off the bonus offer better, because she understood her audience. So she didn’t bundle a pile of worthless junk with her Online Business School and tell folk it was worth $10,000. Instead, she offered products by folk who are known for producing quality materials, including Men With Pens, Michael Martine, and Havi Brooks.

This was a smart move, as she knew her readers would realise they were getting great value, as those people wouldn’t put their names on crap.

What About Free Services?

Some folk do well by offering free services and some don’t. I guess it depends upon how many customers you can convert to a paid service and if you can get some good testimonials, if you’ve just started trading. In an interview with Barbara Swafford, Tom Volkar explained that running a free community teleconference was beneficial to his Authentic Business Discovery course.

But Davina Haisell of Crimson Compass, gave free life coaching sessions to a friend and didn’t find it useful. She felt that the friend didn’t value the service because it was free. And Brad Shorr of Word Sell Inc had to persuade a couple of clients to change their ways because they were giving away services they could charge for.

Personally, I like getting free stuff when it has some value but not when it’s worthless junk. And giving away free stuff can be worthwhile if it brings you newsletter subscribers, buyers, or some great testimonials. But it’s certainly easy to go overboard and give too much away for free.

What do you think? When is FREE good and when does it not work? Do you take advantage of free stuff as a consumer, or do you find that free stuff holds little value to you? Have you used free stuff to make sales before? How did it work out?

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What To Do When You Can’t Find Customers

November 7, 2008

Is it a struggle to find customers for your new business venture? Lots of new business owners find it difficult to get their first customers. I know, because I’ve been there myself. And I get heaps of emails asking for advice every week.

Now, I could charge an hourly rate to help you get your first customers but chances are, you’re bootstrapping your new business. And you need every penny you have to invest in marketing it.

Also, you’re probably looking for a quick fix for your customer shortage problems, so you don’t have time to study on a course for several weeks, to find the answers to your problems.

So, I’ve put together these band aid solutions to help you find new customers fast. Some will apply to your business and some won’t. But I can promise you that they all work, if you do it right.

Problem: You Have Few Potential Customers Visiting Your Website.

Solution: Start a pay per click campaign.

Optimizing your site to get a decent amount of search engine traffic is a good long terms solution. But it isn’t going to bring you immediate results. So, if your budget allows, consider starting a pay per click campaign with Google Adwords, to drive customers to your website. If you don’t have a clue how to run a pay per click campaign, I highly recommend grabbing a copy of Definitive Adwords now.

I tried pay per click before reading Definitive Adwords and I lost a whole heap of money because I was doing it all wrong.

Problem: You Have An Online Service Business & You Can’t Find New Customers.

Solution: It Might Be Faster To Find Your First Customers Offline.

If you have an online service business, you may be able to find your first customers faster off-line. And if you’ve done your research, you should have a good idea where to find those customers. So now you just need to do as many things as possible to get yourself in front of them. Here’s a few suggestions:

You could write to potential customers to explain how your service can benefit them and follow up with a call to make an appointment to see them. Or you could cold call - by telephone, or knocking on their door.

Also, consider having some leaflets made and drop them by hand to prospective customers - if you choose this option, drop at least three leaflets to the same potential customers over a few days. You’ll find you get better results that way, unless your leaflet really sucks.

And don’t forget to speak to anyone you know who may have the same customer base as you and ask for referrals.

Problem: You Offer An Expensive Online Service & You Can’t Find New Customers.

Solution: Offer A Cheaper Product Or Service First.

If your business is new and you only offer an expensive service, you’ll struggle to find customers fast. Most folk have no problem buying a cheap item the first time they visit a new site but few are likely to purchase anything expensive, before they know and trust you.

Consider offering a cheaper product or service first. That will help to get some cash in and it’s a good way of adding new customers to your mailing list. If you don’t already have a product or service you can offer, consider writing an ebook that will appeal to potential customers. I know an ebook doesn’t sound like much of a quick fix but the 7 Day Ebook shows you how to write one within a week.

Problem: You’re Getting Plenty Of Visitors To Your Website But Nobody Is Buying

Solution: Plug The Holes in Your Sales Process

Is your site easy to navigate, or would a potential customer need to click several times just to find out what you are selling? Pretend you’re a customer yourself and try navigating your way round your website.

Or perhaps your sales copy sucks. Did you write it yourself? Do you know much about copywriting? If not, you’re probably losing customers through crappy copy. You could always hire a professional copywriter.

And if you’re not sure what is stopping customers buying from you, or your sales process has more holes than a string vest, you might want to check out these excellent traffic conversion DVD’s.

Have you struggled to find customers? Did any of these answers help, or do you have another problem that I didn’t mention?

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Tell Me What You Want

February 5, 2008

Necker Island
Image by svonog

I’d love to send all my wonderful readers to Necker Island. But Richard Branson’s prices are way out of my reach.

Like most bloggers, I want to give my loyal readers the information they’re looking for. The trouble is, as on most blogs, only a tiny fraction of you comment. And without getting to know you, it’s difficult to find out what type of business information you prefer to read.

So please take the time to share a bit of info about yourself in the comments section. Have you started a business yet; are you still in the planning stage, or do you have several years experience?

What do you struggle with most? And what interests you most? Would you like to read more about sales, marketing, finance, branding, franchising or other business topics?

And do you prefer how to posts, lists, interviews, case studies or other types of articles?

Thank you in advance for taking the time to share. I’m really looking forward to hearing your suggestions.

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