One of the most persuasive things you can do in marketing your services is to give away something for free.
When a prospect receives something free from you, they feel obligated to reciprocate in some manner. This law of reciprocity should be at the heart of all your marketing.
Giving things away can be controversial, however.
If we give away something for free, doesn't that undermine its value? Not necessarily, if we do it right and see this as the first step in a chain of actions that can turn that prospect into a client.
Let's look at one thing every professional service business owner can give away to their prospects: Free Information.
The first thing to understand is that to blindly give away free articles, reports, recordings, even books, isn't going to to get you very far.
For instance, if you go to a web site and find links to a whole lot of articles, you may pick the ones that interest you, download and print them, and then click off that site, never to return.
In my experience, that doesn't work.
Instead, you need to set things up so that there can be reciprocity on the part of the web visitor. You actually want to ask for something in return for this free article - their name and email address.
This isn't a lot to ask, and they will value the free information a lot more because there was a reciprocal exchange. That simple act of giving their name and email address also qualifies them as a future prospect. (They've put up their hands and said: "I'm interested, keep marketing to me!")
Of course, those who request your article are also added to your email newsletter list. This leads to ongoing communication, more free information, and the opportunity to reciprocate by inquiring about your services or buying an online product.
You can use this same article in several other ways. You need to see this article as a valuable commodity that can stimulate reciprocity in the receiver. As you give, so shall you receive (but only if you do it right)!
When you meet someone in a networking or social situation and the topic of your business comes up, they might show interest in your services. Usually the most we do is talk a little about what we do and exchange cards. Unfortunately, this doesn't get you very far. (What do you do with all those cards you collect?)
When you have someone's attention and interest, they usually want more information. By giving your card, they may visit your web site, but why not be more proactive and offer to send them your article?
However, if you just send the article, don't expect this person to call you up the next day, salivating to buy your services. No, you have to offer the article as an opportunity for them to reciprocate.
Here's what to say: "I have an article I think you'll find very useful. It goes into more depth about how to market your services more effectively. Can I send it to you?"
Then use this article as an opportunity to follow-up: "Once you've read the article, I'd love to talk with you and find out more about your business and how the ideas it contains would apply to your marketing. Can I give you a call next week?"
In almost all cases they will be happy to receive the article, and will reciprocate by taking your follow-up call. If you do this in a low-key, non-threatening, conversational way, it's easier than you can imagine. (But you MUST make that promised follow-up!)
If you are generous enough to give something away for free, this builds good feelings and trust. Then reciprocity is natural.
If you understand the law of reciprocity and take advantage of it, you can leverage every contact you make with potential clients. If you don't take advantage of it, you leave the ball in the prospect's court, where they are unlikely to do anything with it.
Does this seem rather cold and calculating to you?
Even so, if you cannot get past the hurdle of trust, you may never have the opportunity to work with someone and make a difference in their lives. This isn't about tricking people into doing business with you; it's about paving the way to a relationship.
I promise that once you start using the law of reciprocity in your business, everything will get a whole lot easier.
The More Clients bottom line: Start using articles as tools to stimulate reciprocity: on your web site, in networking, at talks, etc. But never give away anything without setting up the opportunity for the prospect to reciprocate. If you do that, your response will increase dramatically.
What are you doing in your marketing that gets prospects to reciprocate? Please share on the More Clients Blog.