It takes a lot of work to get your platform ready for an audience. By now, you’ve likely invested enough time that you need to see some financial return to keep moving forward. But a quick buck and a loyal audience don’t always go hand in hand.
Are you prepared to give away something good so that you can make more money later?
Give Yourself Away
When we say Costco, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? If you said the samples, you’re not alone. Who doesn’t love to walk the warehouse aisles and try the various sweet and savory treats on display? If you have kids, odds are they love it even more than you do.
Samples certainly cost retailers a little money, but they exist for a good reason. If you like the sample, you may buy the full product. Even if you don’t buy that specific product, you’re more likely to buy more at the store because the experience of being there is more positive.
While this is common sense, science backs up the freebie phenomenon. Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist at Duke University, explains that samples lead to sales for two reasons:
- “What samples do is they give you a particular desire for something… If I gave you a tiny bit of chocolate, all of a sudden it would remind you about the exact taste of chocolate and would increase your craving.”
- “Reciprocity is a very, very strong instinct. If somebody does something for you, you really feel a rather surprisingly strong obligation to do something back for them.”
This strategy isn’t limited to food and beverages, it works in many different industries. In fact, it will work for you.
You need an email magnet.
Give the Cookie, Not the Worm
Not all freebies are created equal. Just ask a fish. That free worm on the hook might look like an easy meal, but it erodes trust fast.
While you won’t give anything away that hurts someone, you do need to choose something that adds value to your audience. Why? Because that’s how you build your email list.
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Most people’s inboxes are overflowing with email, so they’re reluctant to give out their address without good cause. Because of this, you need to build trust and offer something of value, as an incentive for joining your email list.
That’s where free samples come in. “Join my email list” isn’t a compelling offer to most potential subscribers, but “Download My Cheat Sheet” or “Take My Minicourse” just might work.
To collect email subscribers, you need an email magnet (also referred to as a lead magnet or opt-in incentive). This grows your email list and turns a regular website visitor into a raving fan.
What Is Your Free Sample Worth?
Despite the fact that you’re giving away free samples, you should treat this as a financial transaction. We live in the age of information, where it seems like everyone has a free ebook or another download—so your free sample needs to stick out from the crowd. As a platform-builder, the email address you’re getting is worth real money (both to you and the reader who is subscribing).
With that mindset, would your target audience pay for what you’re giving away? If the answer is no, create a new email magnet. You need an irresistible offer, perhaps one that seems crazy to give away.
Follow this 4-step process to identifying and implementing your email magnet:
- Revisit your unique value proposition statement or your tagline, and get clear on the most compelling promise you make with your platform.
- Distill that promise down to a quick-win that a reader could experience in 30 minutes or less.
- Create a checklist, cheat sheet, or how-to video that walks your audience through each step.
- Attach your new email magnet to a form in ConvertKit, and add your new email magnet to your website itself.
For example, the author and marriage expert Jackie Bledsoe uses the tagline, “Love and Lead The Ones Who Matter Most.” This is a bold promise. To create an email magnet, he scaled that down to loving your spouse well on date night, and created “Date Night In a Box: 12 plug-and-play ideas to connect with your wife this weekend.” What will yours be?