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July 22, 2018

Sales and Marketing Advice for Florida Business

Freebies are ineffective marketing tools - except this one

Ron Stein | 5/22/2017

Growing your business by giving something away is a strategy that can make sense. But only if the giveaway has an enormous value to your prospective customers and is strategically intentional for your company.

When done right, giveaways can be a great way to stand out from your competition -- particularly as an equalizer for small businesses battling larger players in the market.

Yet, the vast majority of free stuff companies give out is useless.

Still, there is one approach that that works every time, no matter the product or service, and for selling to consumers or other businesses. It’s a giveaway that creates solid relationships with potential buyers, leads to a higher than average closing rates, and loyal customers.

In fact, it’s the only type of marketing that people actively look for -- education.

Let’s take a trade show as an example. Walk down any aisle and companies try to entice you into their booth with some sort of giveaway. Pens, cute little stuffed animals, bungee rockets, stress balls, breath mints, and all sorts of other stuff that you can’t use -- well, except for the breath mints.

Sure, each item has a logo and maybe a website and phone number imprinted on it too, but what good is that when you hand over your the cute little stuffed animal to your three-year old to play with or the pen is forgotten in the back of a junk drawer.

Even if your company manufactures and sells bungee rockets, there’s no massive value in free handouts. Giving away a “taste” of your products or services is a little better, but not by much though.

Now imagine that an exhibitor has a large sign in their booth that says, “Learn how to overcome [insert the issue solved here] – Free training every hour.” Here’s what will happen; pre-qualified people will go out of their way to attend.

Almost all other types of giveaways only encourage freebie-seekers and treasure hunters -- not targeted, serious buyers. Unless it’s an offer focused on your targeted audience that has real value in getting your buyer from where they are today to where they want to be tomorrow, you’ll only waste time and money.

Your goal is to build lasting business relationships. Teaching your target audience about how to get what they want will do that. It’s low cost for you and free for buyers. And education leaves a lasting impression on people.

Teaching based marketing. Your audience is getting their information and learning how to solve problems from somewhere. So, why not make your company the go-to trusted source in your market. When you provide knowledge to current and future customers in a non-salesy way, people get to know your company and understand how you can help them. That builds trust for your brand. And it’s easy to do because you use the knowledge everyone in your company already has. This is a “give to get” approach your buyers will appreciate and differentiates your business.

Education is a powerful content marketing strategy. Education is the only type of marketing that's not interruptive because people seek it out, online and offline. This is (or should be) at the heart of content marketing. Let’s be honest, buyers don’t care about our products or services, so the content we provide must satisfy their needs and interests in a big way. Yet, at the same time content needs to help you sell. Teaching based marketing takes care of this. The result is the more you educate buyers, the more they don’t mind being sold to. Plus, the search engines will reward you for providing relevant and fresh information.

Education based content comes in many forms. There are no limits to the techniques you can use to help your customers gain knowledge. From brick and mortar consumer retail to business-to-business offerings, consider using a couple of these ideas -- as long as they add value to your buyer’s life in some meaningful way: an “insight” blog or podcast series that taps into your internal experts for their tips and ideas; ebooks and cheat sheets that demystifies the issues your audience wrestles with; mobile phone app that delivers a story twice weekly on an topic of interest to your buyers; mini course designed to take your customer’s knowledge to the next level in a specific area; written and video case studies that show how others have solved the same problems.

Share your knowledge. Teaching gives your audience a personal interaction with you that’s missing with most marketing and selling efforts.

Buyers get to know you and your company on a deeper level. That builds a connection that lives on long after class ends. Educational marketing allows you to provide the insight customers need to help them do their jobs or improve their life in some way.

The key is to understand where your audience is and where they want to go.

What are you teaching your customers?

Ron Stein is founder of More Customers Academy, helping business leaders build strategic messaging and positioning that cuts through the competitive noise to grow revenue. Ron has developed his own highly successful 5-step Stand Out & Sell More approach to winning new customers as a result of his twenty-five years of business development, marketing, and selling experiences. He works with a range of businesses, from startups to large corporations across industries including technology and healthcare, manufacturing, and financial services and banking. Ron conducts workshops, leads company meetings, offers keynote talks, and consults. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or by email.


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