The 80/20 Principle
Giving away something for free is not a new idea in online marketing. In fact, some sites have grown to dominate their niche by making most of their service free. It’s called the 80/20 principle where you give 80% away for free and offer 20% of your services for a reasonable price. Big sites like Google and Facebook have turned that 20% into billions of dollars of revenue.
I Can’t Give Away the Store
For most small businesses and solopreneurs, it’s not feasible to follow the 80/20 principle. Or is it?
Darren Rowse, aka ProBlogger, ran a month-long series of daily posts on his site to help folks build a better blog in 31 days. Hundreds of people signed up for the challenge. And they also generated a ton of buzz in his comments and on Twitter talking amongst themselves about how they implemented the daily tip.
A couple of months after the challenge, one of Darren’s buddies talked him into offering the daily tips in an ebook – that was for sale. Darren even wrote a post about how taken back he was by the idea that he could sell something that he just gave away.
That was two years ago and that ebook is still selling, along with all of the the other ebooks he later created using a similar launch strategy.
Perhaps running a month-long challenge is out of the question for you time-wise. That’s okay. It’s better to start small.
Write a 5-10 page report to give away. If you need ideas, look no further than the common questions you get from your clients. That’s how I came up with BlogAid’s free report for How to Backup Your WordPress Site. The more I researched the options for my client’s different needs, the more I realized how helpful it would be for every site owner to have that info all in one place.
Value = Viral
The backup report is helpful to a wide variety of folks. It’s also something that people can use and then send to their friends, and that’s exactly what I hope they’ll do.
The footnote on every page of the report has a link to BlogAid. The page before the Table of Contents has a list of the services and classes I offer.
So, it’s in my best interest to give away this valuable information and encourage folks to share it.
Offering a free report as a download in your sidebar is not the only way to distribute it. I field questions about backup solutions all the time, and not just from my clients. I answer them on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. I can answer their question and then send them the link to the report for more info. And, being the author of the report gives me another level of authority as an expert on that topic.
Give the Good Stuff
The free report on backup plugins and services represents the kind of work that I do. It’s well researched, comprehensive, and easy to understand. What impression do you think that gives folks about the classes I teach and the other site services I provide? They are all top-notch.
Remember the ProBlogger book? Well, all of the folks who took that challenge for free got to see how good the information was and now they are affiliate resellers of the book. The best part is they give it their personal, resounding endorsement.
The Power of Word of Mouth
Word-of-mouth endorsements are the most powerful type of marketing you will ever receive. If you give something of value to someone that really helped them when they needed it, how delighted and enthusiastic are they going to be in telling others about you?
There are so many online marketers who don’t get the 80/20 principle and stingily hold their best stuff only for those who purchase. Translation – there’s a lot of free stuff out there that’s not worth the time to download. It’s not hard to stand out from the crowd if you create something of real value. And folks notice that sort of thing. In my business, folks go where they get help, and then they send their friends.