Free Content: How Much Should You Give Away?

“Give them more than they asked for. Give them more than they expected.” -Andrew Palmer, 2006 SIPA Las Vegas

I write to you from lively and exciting Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Don and I are here attending SIPA‘s 23rd Annual Marketing Conference and it’s so much fun! Fantastic content, smart, engaging people and of course, excellent location!

Yesterday, I attended a roundtable moderated by one of my mentors, Andrew Palmer, Director of Ecommerce for Agora Financial and he’s allowed me to share some of his thoughts on the Free Content Model.

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After all, it’s a question Don and I get asked a lot, so here goes:

“Free” is a great and powerful word. It will bring you leads faster than any other offer. Not only will it get you noticed, it will keep potential customers/readers coming back.

When you give away information or products, you are attracting your targeted market to you. With what you give them, you have the chance to do personal or company branding and also to establish yourself as a trusted expert in your industry.

“Should you really give away your content?”

Yes. But under the Free Content Model are you really giving it away? Or are you simply creating value for your business?

If you’re not familiar with the Free Content Model, here it is in a nutshell:

Step One: Create Value
Step Two: Give It Away
Step Three: Build An Email Opt-In List
Step Four: Build a Community
Step Five: Convert names to Buyers

So are we really giving away value with no expectation of something in return? No. We give up something of value and what we get is something of value—an email address. An extremely valuable business asset that we use to build an email list.

“How much should you give away?”

Andrew uses the phrase “Create Value or Die.” Your online business must give value at every opportunity. But how much do you give away and how much do you “reserve” for paying products or services?

  • Give everything you can think of, and only hold back premium information. As Andrew further explained at the roundtable…”If you have an A,B,C,D solution, give them A, or give them B, but you must retain the nugget of gold in order to get them to buy.”
  • Look at it this way… if the information on your site doesn’t change, why would someone come back? But if you give away value—they come… they stay… they come back… they buy… they buy again.
  • Better yet, send them interesting information via an email newsletter and you keep up the relationship on your terms. Plus, if this means you need to come up with new idea or services or products—good! It will only improve your business. It will make you develop a deep and profitable “back-end”.
  • As you build their trust with an email newsletter, your free names will move closer to purchasing something from you. Andrew likes to use the phrase “Don’t just build a business, build a community.”
  • Many business owners see only up-front dollar signs when they formulate their online strategy. They cannot see why anyone would offer all of this great information or these services for FREE. They want to charge people to access tips and information or charge a membership fee for visitors to participate on their site. This owner asks “How can I make the most money with my site?” The question that should be asked is…

“How can I best serve my market?”

  • Don’t focus on the short-term sale. Concentrate on the long-term benefit to the business. The money is in the name, and marketing to its lifetime value.
  • Will you earn more money selling your Special Report? Or will you earn more money giving your Special Report away free AND building a large mailing list of people who are specifically interested in your topic. A list that you can market your high-end services to on a long-term basis? We hope the answer is clear to you.
  • Your goal should be to serve your market. To create value and strategically organize your information and your offers so that you are able to funnel your visitors directly into your mailing list.
  • Do what makes sense. Instead of what makes quick cents. Do it by giving it away FREE!

Many thanks to Andrew for letting me publish this. For more information on Andrew and the wildly successful Daily Reckoning, see our Daily Reckoning Mequoda Case Study, on sale now in our bookstore.


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