Is FREE worth it?
Or should everything be paid for?
How does a prospective customer go from free to fee? And how do you stand out in a world where so much is free?
There's a simple strategy that needs to be followed and once you do, you'll find client will happily move from free to paid clients.
The strategy follows in this episode.
In this episode Sean talks about
Part 1: The Reason Why Your Free Should Be Non-Crappy
Part 2: How Do You Go From Free to Fee?
Part 3: How Do We Get Over This Fear?
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This is the Three-Month Vacation. I’m Sean D’Souza.
Often in Hollywood movies, you get this concept of the ugly duckling. You’ll see this girl who obviously looks pretty, but they make her look as if she’s got pimples and her hair is not that great. Then, somewhere in the middle of the movie, she magically turns into this beautiful swan. Ugly duckling to white swan. That’s how free-to-fee works.
When you’re giving away information free or even if you intend to give away information free, you’ll feel like an ugly duckling. You’ll feel as if you’re giving away all that hard-earned knowledge that you’ve gained. You’re not going to get much response from it or result from it, and you’re somehow hoping that there’s going to be a middle of the movie when things change and that ugly duckling scenario turns into a white swan. Yet, there is a logic and a strategy that enables you to go from free to paid products or paid services.
As always, we’ll cover three main topics, and then we’ll go to an action plan, so you can implement it. The first element we’ll cover is this concept of why free should be non-crappy. In the second topic, we’ll look at some of the tactics and strategies that you can use to go from free to fee. In the third topic, we’ll cover the fear and how to get over that fear, so that you can successfully jump from free to fee.
Let’s start off with the first one, shall we? The reason why your free should be non-crappy.
Part 1: The Reason Why Your Free Should Be Non-Crappy
Yesterday, I was on Twitter, and I was talking to a guy called “Craig”. Craig, you know who you are. He was telling me how he was binge listening to these podcasts. What is causing Craig to binge listen? Then, as I smiled my way through the morning, I got another email. It was from a guy called “Michael”. Michael said he’s been reading all the articles on our website, and he’s been reading them for hours on end. He said he’s going to come back to read some more.
That’s how it should feel. When you’re giving away information, it should feel like you’re giving away something valuable. Not something crappy. It shouldn’t be something that you found in your drawer that you’ve had since 2003, and you just didn’t get rid of. That’s what a lot of people do. When they give away things free, they give away stuff that is not so valuable, and it goes into the crappy basket. Their logic is, “Let me keep all the good stuff for my book. Let me keep all the good stuff for my consulting program. Let me keep all the good stuff for whatever it is I’m going to earn from, and let me not give away all that valuable stuff.” That’s completely contrary to what I’m saying here.
I’m saying that you should give away at least a bit of the good stuff if not a lot of the good stuff. In today’s world, there is so much information, so much free information that people don’t have any regards for free information anymore. If your stuff doesn’t hit them right between the eyes, there’s probably not going to be a second chance. How do you sort out the good stuff from the crappy stuff?
One of the ways to go about creating really good stuff is to go deeper into a topic. For instance, in podcast number 38, it was about not planning testimonials or rather how to get testimonials before you finish a project. Now, a main topic would just be “How to Get Testimonials” or “How to Get Good Testimonials”, but this topic is very niche in a way. It goes deeper into the topic of testimonials which is “How to Get Testimonials before the Project is Even Complete”. You have to sit down and work out how could this problem be solved.
Your clients might ask a question like this, and then you have to sit down and work out this puzzle like a Rubik’s Cube, or you might want to sit down with a mind map, and then go deeper into the topic. The main topic is always usually an overview topic. It’s usually crappy. This is what you see on the internet a lot. When you go deeper, things change.
For instance, with testimonials, you can write about how to get a great testimonial, but then, how to get a great testimonial, and you add something else to that, so how do you get a great testimonial before the project is over, how do you get a great testimonial using six specific questions, how do you get a great testimonial when you’re just starting out, how do you get a great testimonial when you’re new in the country.
The key is to take that main overview topic, and then add something to it that makes it very specific. Now, your brain is able to focus and go, “Well, how would I solve this problem?” When you solved this problem, it becomes interesting. It becomes non-crappy. It becomes valuable to the customer, and that’s when they go, “Wow. This is being given away?” That’s when you’ve got their attention. Now, you’ve got to move them from free to fee. How do you do that? This takes us to the second part of today’s episode, which is how do you go from free to fee?
Part 2: How Do You Go From Free to Fee?
If there’s only one word you’ll remember, remember this word, “packaging”. Packaging changes everything. We’ll talk about more about free-to-fee, but packaging changes everything. The moment you change the packaging, everything changes. Let’s say you’re listening to the radio, and you’re listening to your favorite music. That music is free, isn’t it? What do you do? You go out and buy a DVD, or you go out and you download some MP3 from iTunes or some other place.
Essentially, you’ve gone from free to fee, and the packaging has changed. The way it has been distributed has changed. Then, you will go to a concert. It’s the same song, isn’t it? You could have listened to it at home or better still, you could have listened to it on the radio, but you went to the concert. Then, at the concert, they sold you some DVDs or some kind of deal, and you bought in to that.
I’m a big fan of Sting, and I can’t even remember where I found his music or when I started listening to it because I was not into rock music at all. In fact, when I was growing up, a lot of the music on Indian radio was country music, believe it or not. Country music from the middle of the United States was streaming on radio in India. Anyway, I didn’t listen to rock music, so I didn’t know who The Police were, and I certainly didn’t know who Sting was, but at some point in time, that free music came over the radio.
I listened to it, and I liked it, and then I bought a tape. Yes, as we did back then, and then a CD, and then a DVD. Often, the same album over, and over, and over again. Then, he showed up live in Oakland for a concert, and I paid for tickets to be on row 9, so I could actually see his face rather than up there in the bleachers. If you ask me, “Would you go to another concert?” Yes. “Would you buy some more albums?” Yes. It’s moved the whole thing from free to fee, and there’s no going back.
I’m probably going to listen to another couple of free songs on the radio, but the moment I know that he’s got another album out, the chances are I’m going to buy it. The customer makes that move because they don’t have that much time to fill around with the free stuff after a while. They want to get great stuff. They want to maximize their time. They want to move ahead, and you want to create that situation where free goes to fee very quickly.
You might think, “Well, that’s Sting, and he’s a rock star, and he’s known really well,” but take for instance just Psychotactics. When I wrote the book “The Brain Audit”, it was just 16 pages. It was not supposed to be a book. It was just the notes that I had given at a seminar. Then, I went around trying to improve my speaking, and so I’d speak at different small events. Really, breakfast events, and we drive … I don’t know, two hours to just speak at this event where three people would show up, but a friend of mine told me, “Why don’t you try and sell this PDF?” and so that’s what I did.
The people that came to the event … It was just a networking event, and it was technically free because they’d already paid their membership fees at the start of the year, but it was free. They came for this speaking thing that I wasn’t being paid for, and then I put on a really good show. What happened as a result of that really good show, they decide they want to buy the book, so it goes very quickly from free to fee.
In most cases, the people that have bought The Brain Audit online have bought it after reading free articles that were really useful to them. They read free reports that were really useful to them, and then they decided to buy The Brain Audit. Once they bought The Brain Audit, they bought in to a Brain Audit course. They bought in to other courses, and some of our courses are $3,000, $4,000, $5,000. I’m not for a second suggesting that you’re going to go from free to $5,000 overnight, but I am suggesting that if you give really great information, really sub-subtopic information, that’s when you’re going to start attracting people to you.
A yoga class can go from free to fee, but in that yoga class, you’re going to have to go into a subtopic. If you just do what every yoga class is doing, it’s not that interesting. If you start doing webinars, or podcasts, or just write articles and your topics are just at the top level, it’s not that interesting. If it’s interesting, then customers are willing to pay for a change in packaging. Let’s take this podcast for example. It’s absolutely free. Now, there are about 40 podcasts, and you can go through them, and you can find out the ones that you like and stuff like that.
In time, there will be a hundred, 200, 300 podcasts. Now, you’ve got a real problem if you’re searching for one topic. Supposing you’re searching for a topic like pricing or supposing you’re searching for a topic on how to speak better or testimonials. If I would take the 10 podcasts that were only on testimonials, you’d be willing to listen to that because it would save you a lot of time having to go through 200 podcasts, and then find the ones that work and download them. You’d be willing to pay $10 to get just 10 podcasts that are free online simply because it saves you time.
If your sub-subtopic is saving your client time and it is valuable, they’re willing to pay for it. There are two core ways in which you can move a client from free to fee. The first way is to give them something free, and then move them up the chain as it were, so people come to subscribe. Then, they buy The Brain Audit, then they go to 5,000 B.C., and then they buy other courses. That’s one way. The second way is to take the information that you already have and to change the format. If it’s an audio, make it a PDF. If it’s in PDF, make it audio.
Sometimes, it just takes a bit of sorting like I gave you the example with this podcast where all I have to do is go through 200 podcasts and just find the 10 that are really good on pricing or 10 that are really good on headlines, and that becomes valuable. That’s where the customer is going to buy. Even as we decide we want to go from free to fee, we have this fear, and this takes us to the third part, which is how do we get over this fear?
Part 3: How Do We Get Over This Fear?
A few years ago, I started a cartooning course. I didn’t actually want to start a cartooning course, but a member of 5000BC, his name is Joe, and he suggested that I start the cartooning course. I didn’t really want to because I was writing books, and marketing, and stuff. I really didn’t want to go into cartooning, but he told me, “Look, I bought all the books in cartooning. I’ve done all the courses, and I still can’t draw cartoons. I think that you can teach me to draw cartoons.”
I wasn’t that keen, and you can say that keenness just let me down. What I did was I offered the first cartooning course free. I know this sounds bizarre to all of you who have paid a thousand dollars for it, but that’s how it was. Of course, because it was free, it was slightly experimental, but it was still good. About 35 people signed up for that course, and we did the course, and they turned out to be cartoonists, and they gave us testimonials, and we put the testimonials up, and now you know how the cartooning course runs year after year at Psychotactics.
What was a free course with great information turned out to be a paid course. What was the difference? The difference was the testimonials. When you put out information, you’re not really sure if it’s great information or not. Sometimes you think, “Well, this is too basic. Everyone should know that.” As you go from topic to subtopic to sub-subtopic, you will find that the information is great. At that point in time, you can have a free course, but the most important thing is to get these outstanding testimonials. You want to listen to podcast number 38 to begin with, and also to go to Psychotactics and look for the six questions that you need to ask to get great testimonials. It’s also in The Brain Audit, by the way.
Testimonials make a difference. Great testimonials make a difference, and that’s what will, first of all, reassure you that your stuff is not basic, but really great, that is changing lives. Then, you can move from there on from free to fee. Put a price, and then you go from there, increasing the price as you go along. The cartooning course started at nothing … Well, you could pay whatever you wanted, and some people gave me an Amazon voucher, but today, it’s a thousand dollars. That one course with 35 people generates $35,000 every time it’s run. That’s how you can take something from free to fee.
Hollywood often has this ugly duckling to white swan scenario happening, and there is no ugly duckling. That woman has been good-looking and smart the whole time. Your products were good-looking and smart the whole time. They just happened to be free. Some of your products and services could continue to remain free, and the rest of them, you can sell it for a fee.
We’ve covered quite a bit, so let’s just summarize what we’ve learned so far.
We started off with the concept of free not being crappy. They call it the “ugly duckling”, but it was never the ugly duckling. It was always the white swan. To know if your product is really good, go from topic to subtopic, subtopic to sub-subtopic. It doesn’t matter whether you’re doing training, or consulting, or writing a product, you want to explore those depths of the sub-subtopic, and that’s the way you get the attention and the customer.
The second thing that we covered was how you can go from free to fee by changing the packaging, and we saw how you listen to stuff on the radio, and then you buy the DVD, and then you buy the MP3. Then, you go to the concert, and then you go to another concert, and then the whole sequence starts all over again. The point is that over time, customers don’t want that much free stuff. They want to pay for stuff. They want to get from one point to the other as quickly as possible.
When customers first start, they want to test the waters, and that’s why they go for the free stuff to see that you are good in the first place. Once they have established that you’re good, they don’t really need to read much or do much in terms of free. It’s only the new customers that feel that way. After a while, they’re just buying everything in sight. They’re getting value from it, which is they’re buying everything in sight, not because you put a magic spell on them.
Packaging makes a big difference, but also organization. As I said with the podcast, if I just pull out the stuff that’s relevant to you, you’re going to listen to it. Say for instance, just 10 topics on pricing. Packaging and organization will take something from free to fee. Finally, there’s always this fear that your stuff is too basic, that it’s something that nobody wants to buy. Do a free course. Get the testimonials, and those testimonials will assure you and assure your prospects that you’re doing a great job and that it’s worth paying for.
What’s the one thing that you can do today? It’s got nothing to do with today’s podcast. It’s got everything to do with the testimonials. You want to go out there and find out, “How can I get good testimonials? How can I get great testimonials?” First, you want to listen to podcast number 38, and that’s because it deals with the topic of testimonials.
The second thing you want to do is read The Brain Audit because it shows you how the customer thinks, and it gives you those six questions that you need to ask. Now, you can get those six questions free online anyway, but you will find that The Brain Audit is a really good read to understand the entire strategy. There you go. I’m taking you from free, which is the podcast, to a paid product. You’ll find great value, and then you’ll come back again. It’s that simple.
It’s 5:21am here in Auckland, New Zealand, and I’m not going for a walk today. Now, the point of recording this podcast, we’re leaving for the United States in about 48 hours, and I’ve got podcasts to do and presentations to finish. I know it’s an excuse, but it’s a valid excuse this time. I just do not have the time to go for a walk, but when I get to Italy, when I get to the United States, I’ll more than make up for it.
This is a rare instance. Normally, it’s just part of the routine. It’s part of the routine for a simple reason. When I go for a walk, a lot of things happen. It’s not just the health and the fitness, but it’s also that I get the chance to then listen to the podcast, and then listen to an audiobook, and it fills my brain with information. This is critical. Input is everything. Facebook is nothing, and that’s where we spend a lot of our time. We should spend more time going for a walk, listening to the podcast, listening to audiobooks because once you have that input, you have stories, you have strategies, you have tactics, and you’re able to then take your knowledge to a completely different level.
When I first started out, I was on this site by Jim Collins, and I read the fact that he reads a hundred books a year. I thought, “Well, he’s an author. He’s busy. If he can read a hundred books a year, so can I.” I found that just reading books was not getting me very far because you have limited time to read in a day. I found that just by listening to stuff in the car or walking, even if 90% of it just went one ear and out of the other, it didn’t matter. People make these excuses. They talk about why they can’t remember stuff, that they need to make notes. It’s just listen.
There you go. That was my preach for today.