Publish for profit to promote your business
While this is a bit contradictory (Roanoke Revealed does not have a current revenue aspect), generally speaking, giving away work-product isn’t an effective strategy for most small businesses. Sure, it seems like everybody is doing it (or claiming you must), but that doesn’t make it right.
People value what they pay for. Time you spend creating and delivering freebies is time lost from profit-producing activities. Those willing to buy your book, PDF guide, audio title or video tutorials are committed clients, not poor prospects paying with only their e-mail address for a gift bribe. The former will come back for more to protect their investment while the latter unsubscribe.
How is this so? I don’t know. But, it’s borne from more than a couple of decades of primary research concerning small business behavior and a good deal of experimentation with freebie books.
Horse Sense and Cents® titles (non-fiction equine books) have been offered as free e-books through Amazon’s KDP Select program, as free audio title downloads through contests, at no cost on web pages (snippets) and promotional campaigns, as charitable donations for auctions and as list building incentives. None of this resulted in reviews or measurable additional sales.
Buyers of books (or other informational products), conversely, tend to come back to buy more titles or the same one in a different format (print, audio and digital editions). These people also requests additional help through more expensive services.
The NanetteLevin.com website (small business marketing, strategic & copy writing/editing support) has also offered discounted services as well as complimentary time to some prospects in hopes of subsequent traditional hourly rate compensation. It usually doesn’t happen. Instead, this tends to attract the wrong kind of client – those who see $95 or $250 as a high marketing investment sum. Sometimes you get a gem from such strategies, so it stays, but you get wiser about screening to ensure you can provide the support prospects envision for the “introductory offer.”
Get paid for your time to attract better clients
People willing to pay immediately for a product or service are better clients. They value what’s offered, appreciate insight provided, act on the recommendations and find success. Those collecting prizes for the price of an e-mail address have another hundred opinions they’re grabbing, act on nothing then blame the information provided for their failure.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget lessons learned when you find you’re in a new realm. These hard knocks insights, however, are transferable to new locales, different industries and distinct audiences.
I switched from proposals to Recommendations and Strategies Reports in the 1990s. This was at a time when the former was the norm in the marketing/public relations industry. These took dozens of hours to complete, yet rarely resulted in contracts.
Once I started offering an initial complimentary meeting (usually over breakfast or lunch – my treat :-)) then suggesting a Recommendations and Strategies report as the next step (generally for under $200), more than 90% of prospect meetings resulted in long-term clients. This Report was a proposal with added tutorial material so the client could implement recommendations from detailed how-to guidance provided.
There were two reasons this worked so well as a selling tool. First, once someone is invested, they value what’s provided and get determined to see a return. Second, the instructional part of the piece illustrated how much work would be required to realize stated desired results.
If you’re currently spending valuable time on freebies for that funnel some (self-appointed) guru says you must develop for success, consider a better plan. When you’re great at what you do, people will be more successful with your help if they invest early.
Sometimes free works when passion rules
Why is Roanoke Revealed free content without (current) revenue streams? It’s mostly because I was frustrated that I couldn’t easily find relevant online area resources for attractions and business needs in this area and figured you might be too. Why not share what I uncover to help others more quickly discover what makes this community so rich? Creating a solution is more fun than complaining.
Of course, it also keeps me accountable to my weekly goal to seek out new attractions and resources. At times, when a relevant link will help readers learn more about a subject of interest, I can point to my income-oriented ventures (marketing/copy writing, chemical-free produce deliveries and horses).
I’m still learning on the Roanoke front. It’s been a lot of fun adapting client branding strategies to effectively appeal to this local market. The area is a special community that’s filled with people appropriately proud of the uniqueness. That’s important to know if you’re marketing locally.
On being valued, though, if you’re giving away a lot for free, your knowledge will be less appreciated and prospects will be less apt to get motivated to move. That affects results. I will be reestablishing my Recommendations and Strategies Report precept. Sometimes, going back offers great insight for soaring forward.