Cooking Content for the Inbound Free Lunch

Yes, this inbound marketing can be a little counter-intuitive. However, if you stop and think about it, retailers give free stuff away all the time. Warehouse stores serve free samples of hot food at the end of an isle, while pretty girls spray samples of perfume as you walk into a department store.

There is no trick to it. Smart marketers understand that consumers want to sample, taste, or test drive in order to learn about you before they buy. The world is now about people researching what they want, sampling it and then buying it. The days of "being sold' are coming to an end.

Here are a few ways to give stuff away for free:

  1. Unique Industry Knowledge - You may feel that your unique industry knowledge is privileged, however, if no one knows that you have this knowledge, then what good is it? Knowledge is not like wine, it does not get better hidden in a dark room. Spread your knowledge around, the more people you educate, the better. In today's world, if they don't get it from you, they will get it from your competitors.

    Write a blog about a new product or upcoming seasonal service or share some "tips and tricks" of your business or industry through downloadable items such as our guide, 7 Free Sites to Promote Your Business Online. Once prospects see your expertise, they are more apt to buy from you or recommend you to others.

  2. Free Sample or Trial - Think about how software is sold today. Most software is now sold as a service. They help you see its value by giving it to you free for a period of time or for a certain volume. It can be a win-win for them: If you like it, you may buy it. And if you like it but don't buy it, you may still recommend it to a friend. Money-back guarantees are a useful variation on this, but not as many people will try your product compared to a free no-hassle trial.

  3. Valuable Resources - These can be links to trade organizations or other industry resources where non-biased information can be informational and educational. Other resources can be tools such as assessments or surveys that can help the reader gauge their needs. For example, on our site, we have an automated "no-strings-attached" marketing assessment to help people determine where they are and where they need to go with inbound marketing strategy and tactics.

You must remember that your knowledge is valuable to those searching for your product or service. After my first week of training in the mail list business many years ago, I was apprehensive to answer the phone and speak to clients and prospects about lists. When I brought my concerns to my supervisor, she said, "Mark, you know more about lists than 95% of the people that will call in today. You are an expert!"

After a few calls, I learned that she was right. Chances are that even if you've only been in your chosen business for a week, you probably have more knowledge than your customers, so realize that you are an expert in their eyes!

Providing valuable knowledge to those searching for it builds trust. Once they trust you, they will want to come back to do business with you, the expert.

What's the most you've given away to make a sale? How did it work out? Let us know in the comments below!