MS recently downloaded a copy of one of my free special
I offer it free to folks interesting in my copywriting services,
books, and courses — and MS took advantage of it.
After MS downloaded the free report, he sent this quick email to
me in response:
“Hi. Thanks. This is an awesome report — much better than some
I’ve paid for.”
And therein lies a simple but powerful marketing lessons:
***The content you give away for free should be as good as, or
preferably better than, the content you sell!***
This may seem counterintuitive.
You think, “Well, the person is not paying. So it doesn’t have to
be that good. For free, so-so should be good enough.”
But the purpose of giving away a free report is to either (a)
strengthen your reputation as a subject matter expert or (b)
upsell prospects to your paid products or services.
So riddle me this: If I get a report from you, and it’s a yawn,
then why would I bother to give you money for more of the same
level of thinking, expertise, or advice?
And don’t tell me, “Well, people know the free stuff is just a
taste, but for the steak dinner, they gotta pay the full price.”
Because actually, they don’t see it that way: If the free sample
sucks, you’ll almost surely fail to whet their appetite for doing
business with you on a paid basis.
That’s why the content you give away for free should be as good
as, or preferably better than, the content you sell!
But … just because the free has to be as good or better than the
paid, it doesn’t have to be the SAME as the paid.
Here’s a useful rule of thumb from my colleague WM: The free
content tells people WHAT to do.
The paid content or service either tells the how to do it or
actually does it for them.
See the difference?
One more time:
Free content is “what to do” … paid content is “how to do it” …
paid services are “done for you” — doing it for them.
Back in the day, we called these free reports “bait pieces,”
the idea being we used them to go fishing for leads.
Today these free content offers are called “lead magnets,”
because they are used to attract potential customers.
Also back in the day, we didn’t call it “content marketing.” We
called it “giving away free information.”