Central to successful marketing for Service Professionals is giving away valuable information.
In fact all your marketing should revolve around this one simple principle: Create valuable information to give away and give it away in vast quantities.
This may sound simple, but like everything there's a knack to it. It actually takes some thought and planning to give away valuable information in a way that makes it truly appreciated and brings you paying clients (that is after all what marketing is all about isn't it?).
Simply giving away something, no matter how valuable, will only get you so far. To really capitalise on this principle you need to first sell prospects on actually reading your valuable information.
These days with information over-load, prospects need to feel they have a reason to invest some of their valuable time reading what you've written; it's that old WIIFM question (what's in it for me). So you need to sell 'em on the idea first.
The best way to do this is by following the same simple steps you take to communicate your marketing message: Problem - Outcome - Value - Proof - Offer.
1. Problem - Why do your clients need you in the first place? Which topics make prospects ask questions and want to know more? How can you help them?
2. Ultimate Outcome – What will your clients get when they work with you? It's all about the difference you make. That’s what gets them interested.
3. Value - This is simply an expansion of your Ultimate Outcome. What are all the more specific benefits clients get when they work with you? They want to know some details.
4. Proof - Who have you worked with and what kind of results have you produced? Use anecdotes and testimonials to paint some pictures. They want a taste of who you are… and are you successful?
5. Offer - This is when you get your prospect to take action. If you don't make an offer that they can easily take you up on, the marketing game is over, dead in the water.
But what is the offer? Is it your services? Is it a proposal? Is it trying to close the sale?
Rarely. This will all come later.
The offer is for some Free Stuff; and yes, you do have to actually sell your free offer. First you need to get your prospects attention and interest. Then you need to build your case and prove you have credibility and are successful.
Only when you have done that, will they bother to look at your free stuff.
In other words, don’t expect great results if you just throw free information at prospects. They won't pay any attention to it. They won't value it. Nothing will happen.
The fact is it’s not that easy to get people to look at your free stuff. It goes against the grain; studies have proven that you can't even give dollar bills away on a street corner. People won't take it, even although it is cash you’re offering!
But if you have a plan, if you follow a few simple steps, taking the time and effort to get your prospect’s focused attention. If you build your case on credibility and trust… then your free stuff becomes interesting, intriguing, desirable and valuable.
Which brings me to a crucial point: free stuff should never be completely free.
If they want your valuable information they need to give you something valuable in return. You’ll find people are much more comfortable with this idea than they are with ‘something for nothing’.
It could be said that your free offer is the last step in your initial marketing process, but you could also say that it's the first step of the selling process.
Here are a few examples of the many ways you can give away free stuff (in this case a report) and keep the marketing conversation going:
On your Web Site
Offer a valuable report. It can be downloaded free if they give you their email address and first name. Tell them that as a bonus they’ll be subscribed to your eZine. You can now send them valuable information on a regular basis, which is a great way to build credibility and trust with your prospects.
When You Do A Talk:
The same report will do. But don't just hand it out to everyone who turns up - they won't all value it (or read it). Ask for a business card so you can send the report out to those who want it, and let them know you'll add them to your eZine list as well. Again, you can now follow-up.
At networking Events:
Get even more mileage from the same report. When you connect with someone you think you might be able to help, get their business card and offer to send the report. Then follow up by phone to answer any questions.
The true value to you of always having something free to offer is that you get permission to follow-up and continue the marketing conversation. That way, when the time is right and your prospect is ready to take advantage of the service you provide, there’s an excellent chance it’s YOU they’ll call and not someone else.