Giving Away Free Stuff is Bad For You and Bad For Your Customers

Giving away your stuff for free is bad you and for bad your customers.
I’m not talking about giving away lead magnets like a one page PDF or a free video. I’m talking about proper ebooks, online courses, memberships and apps.
The fact is that people don’t value free content, no matter how good it is. I should know, I have been both a recipient and a giver of the free stuff.
One of my regular habits has been to download every free ebook in my niche. I would place them in a folder on my desktop called, appropriately, ‘ebooks’. I planned to read it someday, like the other one hundred ebooks in that folder. And of course I never do. Once in my folder, it’s like an abyss – never to be found again.
When you think about it, every one of those ebooks was written by someone who took the time and their knowledge to share valuable (sometimes not) information with their readers. But that’s what you get for giving it away for free.
Yes people love the free stuff but that doesn’t mean they will ever consume it.
I remember putting my first online course on Udemy, which is a platform specifically designed course creators. It is a common practice, when you launch your new course, to giveaway free coupons to other course- creators on the Udemy’s Facebook group.
I announced to the FB Community that I would give away free coupons to the first one hundred people to claim it. As soon as I posted the promotion, my email started to go ballistic!
Every time someone redeemed the coupon, I got notified by a new email. Within ten minutes, all one hundred coupons were redeem. I even got someone to actually buy it. WOW! I thought my new course was going to make me an instant millionaire.
I waited for a week to see how my new students were going through the course. Udemy allows instructors to see where each individual student is up to in the course. Well what I saw, staggered me.
Out of the one hundred freebies, only five of them had actually started the course. That means 95% of them, hadn’t even started the introduction of the course. How can this be? Surely this is either a mistake or there must be some conspiracy taken place. Maybe all the coupon redeemers are holding on to them so that they can sell the coupons on the black market. After all, how could anyone resist my course?
Then I looked at the only buyer of the course. She spent $47 for my course, which wasn’t a lifetime’s savings, but still not the money you would want to throw away. And guess what? She was the only one that had completed the course after that first week.
But that wasn’t anything strange at all. I looked again at my own behaviour. I had just paid $997 for a new online course. I had to think about it for a few days before deciding to take the punt. Did I finish the course? Yes, not only once. Not only twice, but three times – just to get full value for what I had paid for. And I worked so hard to make the course work for me that I got a lot of success from it. You see, I had ‘skin in the game’.
So if you really want your stuff to be valuable to your customers and provide them with an incentive to make it work, do them a favour, and ask them to buy it. Then everyone wins.
Until next time,
Gerry Tacovsky
Video Marketing Strategist