Information product sales don't always increase with promotions alone
Often they increase by giving away content that you could easily sell.
But shouldn't you stick to giving away tiny reports? What if you were told to give away a big product instead? Would that reap any rewards?
Find out in this episode on giving as a strategy.
In South Africa, there's a flower that only one insect can access.
Orphium flowers don't contain nectar. Instead, they provide bees with pollen. Yet, not every insect can access the pollen. If you look closely at an orphium flower, you'll find the stamens are twisted and this, in turn, prevents the pollen from being stolen by visiting insects. Only one insect has access to the pollen in the Orphium flower. That insect is the female carpenter bee.
When she approaches the Orphium flower, her flapping wings make a particular buzzing sound. Yet that sound won't make a difference to the flower. The stamens remain locked. At which point the bee changes the beat of her wings creating what we'd call the C note. That simple act gets the flower to seemingly unlock and shower the bee with pollen.
In our business, we often seem to be like the other insects.
We don't appear to be able to hit that C note and unlock greater products sales. Yet just like the wing beat of the carpenter bee, you can achieve a consistent level of success. So what's that note that you have to hit? And how often?
Let's find out:
1) Small value giveaway
2) Big value giveaway
3) How to structure the giveaway and how often
1) Why Small Value Giveaways or Products Work
If you were a rooster, would you be able to crow at any time?
You'd think so, wouldn't you? After all, it seems like roosters cock-a-doodle-doo at any given time. In the journal, Scientific Reports, a study showed that roosters crow in order of seniority. First, the top ranking rooster initiates the crowing, followed by subordinates, all in descending order of social rank.
In fact, when the top ranking rooster is removed from the group, the second-ranking rooster initiates the crowing. At all times the social rank has to be adhered to maintain the hierarchy.
Fortunately, such a hierarchy doesn't have to be maintained when trying to increase product sales. You can start off with a small value giveaway.
So what's a small or low-value giveaway?
When you get to the website at Psychotactics.com, you're likely to have run into a giveaway called the “Headline Report”. It's why headlines fail, and how to avoid that failure. To date, over 55,000 copies of that report have been downloaded.
That report isn't a top-ranking, highly complex document. Back in the early 2000s, when we first launched a pre-Psychotactics site, I wrote an article about headlines, which turned out to be very popular.
And by this point, you're probably thinking, “Ah, it's a report, there's nothing new about a report.”
You'd be right if you thought that way because the report itself doesn't do much. However, if you take a report that gets a client from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible, then that report becomes pretty magical.
Which is what the Headline Report does. In under 10 minutes and in about as many pages, it takes you from not being very confident with headlines to getting a pretty good understanding of the working and the implementation of the headline.
All over the Psychotactics website, there are tiny reports of this nature
They're all small value giveaways, but they do one thing and do it well. They get you from A to B in a big hurry. The hurry part is important because people are swamped with information. If you're able to create change quickly, they're more likely to decide to take the next step and implement what you've shown them.
Once they implement, they're hooked. I remember a client who came to our workshop, spent $3000 for himself and his wife, purely based on the strength of the report.
But it's not just reports that matter; videos or audio can do the same task
Last week I listened to a podcast about a book by Tim Harford. To date, I've read one book and am in the process of going through the other. The podcast isn't high value, is it? It's free, but the same concept of the podcast can be used on your site. The short video, the short audio, the tiny report, even a string of slides that explain a concept. Your starting point should usually be an appetiser, not a full meal.
At Psychotactics we have appetisers all around the place
It might be an excerpt of a book or some reports that are extremely useful. They all serve to get clients to show up, then sign up on a consistent basis. In fact, our goal—and pay close attention—is to have a report that's suited to every type of article. It's a pretty extensive exercise but think about it.
If you're reading an article on resistance, what would you prefer a report on? Resistance, or overcoming resistance, right? The same concept would apply to any page of your website. Which means that if you bundle up even a few of your best Point A to Point B articles, you should be able to have a few reports ready in a few weeks, at best a few months.
The low-value giveaways don't need to be restricted to just the giveaway on your front page
They can be all sorts of little audios, videos, or any information that is of value to the client. And they cut through the hierarchy. We all believe that clients need to read our book or attend a workshop. No, they don't. They just need a tiny bit of stuff that they can consume.
So why is this consumption bit so very important?
When a client can finish and implement something, they usually come back for more. Which is why it then pays to have not just free, but also low-value products. When you look at Psychotactics, you'll notice that we sell The Brain Audit for $9.99.
There are also other products that have a lower value and are priced at $29 or $39. They're not exactly cheap, but when compared with some of the $3000 products they do come across as lower value. In fact, if you look closer, we even have a button that says, “products under $50”. Clients want to test the waters without too much of a risk. When they find value—and by value I mean they can implement everything smoothly and elegantly—they come back for more.
Nonetheless, free or lower value products are not the only way to go. Which is why you need to have something of high value to give away. Give away? Yes, give away. Let's look at how the high-value products work as well.
2) Let's look at how the high-value products work as well. Big Value Giveaway
Did you know that the modern seatbelt was invented by an aviation engineer who worked on ejector seats?
In 1959, it's not like cars didn't have seatbelts—they did. But the seat belts were two-point waist restraints, which in car crashes, harmed rather than helped the driver and passengers. Which is when Volvo engineer, Nils Bohlin stepped up to the plate and invented the three-point seat belt—the kind we use today. It was such a remarkable safety feature that Volvo would have made a big pile of money on patents alone.
Instead, Volvo gave it away.
We often believe that we should sell high-value products
However, you may find, as we did, that giving away high-value products can be an incredibly powerful way to build trust and get repeat clients.
On the Psychotactics website is a product called The Brain Alchemy Masterclass which is priced around $2300. The product shows you the core of how to start and build your business, and it's easy enough to get to the sales page and buy the product. Yet, from time to time we give away the product to the entire list.
Another product is the Website Masterclass
This product digs deep into not just websites, but the psychology of what creates “religions” to work. In doing so, it takes you on the magic carpet through the major world religions, Harley Davidson, Football and other such “religions”.
You realise why some marketers never have to put crazy countdown clocks or dump pop-ups on their website. That without any fuss or hoopla you can create a business where clients buy because their trust in you is infinite. Would you hold onto such a product? And yet, a few years ago, we gave it away to those who were members of 5000bc—and no, there was no catch involved.
Giving away a big product seems to be a foolhardy exercise
Why give something away when you can sell it? We've found that giving away a chunk of what we have has been beneficial for our business. At Psychotactics, we have over 20 products, and when we give away big chunks, we've found it builds an enormous amount of goodwill, which, believe it or not, turns to greater sales.
Bear in mind that while this article is clearly suggesting that you should use this giveaway as a strategy, our goal was not originally to garner a greater profit. Our goal was to give back since we'd already received so much. And this goal was stated way back in 2004, when the company was just over a year old. Even so, you'd be happy to know that giving away stuff you can sell, does lead to a substantial growth in profits.
In The Brain Alchemy Masterclass, we cover the early version of The Brain Audit
Yet, the moment clients go through the course, they end up buying the new version of The Brain Audit. And they also buy The Brain Audit workshop. They then join 5000bc, our membership site and end up on online courses.
Consider that a Psychotactics course is quite expensive compared with most marketing courses out there. And if you're doing an online, live, guided course, you are promised skill, but no money back guarantee. So what causes clients to sign up in a tearing hurry? Why do the courses fill up in less than an hour? One of the big reasons is the big giveaway.
But what if you don't have any big products?
No one starts off their business with big products, and yet in time, you'll be likely to do a series of videos, or possibly a workshop that you record. Maybe you'll do a bunch of seminars on a particular topic. It's likely you don't have that product in place right now, and even when you get to it, you might not be that keen to give it away.
We had waited at least six years before we gave away our product and another three before we gave away the next. You have to be comfortable with giving away a big chunk of product. Nonetheless, bear in mind that the marketplace gets noisier and crazier by the minute and your best bet is to get clients to trust your work earlier than later. The sooner you can give away a big product, the better. It might even be a good idea to create a big product just to give it away.
If you giveaway big products, will clients ever want to pay?
I have an e-mail software that I use to keep my inbox down to zero. It's called Spark (and it's for the Mac). I've used a lot of software to maintain my inbox because unlike most people; I don't outsource e-mails. And right now Spark does an excellent job. There's just one problem. All the e-mail software I've had before has not been free.
It hasn't been expensive, but they've charged me between $20-$40 overall. This one is a pure giveaway. That makes me really nervous because you can't run a business without charging for it. I'm hoping they can take some money off me as soon as possible. Structure
It may sound bizarre to you, but not all clients are not over eager to get free stuff all the time
There are those who will take endlessly, but there are enough clients who want to pay. If you create good info-products, you will always have clients who'll pay good money to get whatever you put out. Take the case of all the free information you see around you on a daily basis. You'll see entire videos on YouTube, or run into books that are priced at a tiny fee, or even free. A book, by the way, is a big info-product. The book or video then directs you to higher priced info-products or consulting.
Which brings up the next question: Should you structure the giveaway? If so, how? And how often should you give something away? Let's find out in the next section.
Have you walked into a store where some of the goods are locked up and not accessible to customers?
Many years ago, we used to do workshops in Campbell, California—primarily it's because that's where Renuka's sister used to live. And while we were in the U.S. it was always a good idea to do some shopping.
On one of the shopping trips, I wanted to buy a rainproof jacket. Not just any old jacket, but something that would keep me super dry on days when it was super-wet. The logical choice for this outdoor gear was REI, the outdoor gear store. And guess where my prized rain jacket was to be found?
Yes, you probably guessed correctly
It was in a glass case, which happened to be locked. The brand I was looking for, Arcteryx, had a high price tag and there it was, sitting where it could be seen, but not touched. And that's approximately how you need to treat your own big value giveaways. It needs to have a barrier between you and the client, wherever possible and there's a good reason why.
The reason? It's easier to sell something expensive than to give it away free of charge
Think about it for a second. Let's say someone drove up to your house, knocked on your door and gave you the keys to a brand new car. What's your reaction? You should be jumping for joy, but this person who just gave you the car is a stranger.
There's absolutely no reason to trust his generosity. Instead of dancing around the room, you're trying to shut the door in his face, aren't you? Without setting up the barrier and anticipation, even a big give-away will fall flat on its face.
At Psychotactics we go through a routine as though we're selling a high-value product
Yes, the product is still free, but that doesn't mean you don't put up the barriers. When we give away a high-value product, we make the client go through a series of actions. This might involve going on a waiting list, then spreading out the sequence of e-mails so that the product is delivered in stages.
And for some giveaways, we've even got members to pitch in and help out with the work. In short, you shouldn't just dole out your high-value product and should take all the care and effort to treat it like a high-end product. It means a lot of work on your part. Lists to set up, e-mails to write—yup, no one said this would be easy. But when you go through the trouble of running a campaign for a “free” product, the client is in a better position to perceive the value.
What you also need to know is that low-value products can have the same intensity of drama
Just because it's not a high-end info-product, doesn't mean you can't roll it out to the sound of drums and bugles. Let's say I were writing a small report on “how to write perfect headlines every time”, there are two options.
You could get the report right away, without any fuss, or you could sign up in anticipation for the information when it is finally released. Which isn't to say that all small value giveaways need to have pomp. Some of them can just be given away, just as you'd do with a YouTube video or an article.
Even so, most of the items on our site have barriers
To get to a specific type of audio or video or report, you have to sign up. This, in turn, enables us to send more goodies to the client or to inform them about related products or services. If you can't get in touch with a client or can't remind them to buy something, there's a likelihood your info-products will sell, but having those contact details and the permission enables you to keep in touch on a fairly constant basis.
Finally, it's the strength of your info-product that really matters
Many clients will use different e-mail addresses and may not see the follow-up e-mails you send. Which is why your info-product itself, whether big or small, has to deliver the goods. It's not always sales, sales and more sales that matter. In many, if not most cases, generosity matters to an even greater extent. Be generous, and kind, and you'll find that clients are very responsive as well.
Oh and be selective in your giving
We give away products from time to time, not all the time. Once or twice a year, or even longer is a good strategy for a large product. For smaller products, it's going to depend on the type of info-product. I'll give away a report at the end of a podcast or maybe something embedded in the middle of an article or right at the end of the article. In short, even when we're giving away something, we're making sure clients invest in reading, watching or listening before finding the treasure.
Giving is a good feeling.
Do it with passion, but also with structure and you'll get rewards.
Best of all, it will lower risk and increase info-product sales. It's a really warm and fuzzy way to run a business, isn't it?