Marketing With Free Information

One of the easiest – and most effective – ways to generate more leads and orders from your marketing is to offer, as a bonus, a free special report.

But be careful: Your prospects already have too much to read and don’t really want a “report” per se. What they seek is valuable content that can help them solve a problem, do their job better, or make more money. If they think your free report can deliver some of that, they’ll respond to your e-mail or sales letter just to get their hands on it.

So how can you transform a ho-hum offer of yet another “free report” into a compelling free-content offer that sends your response rates soaring?

The most important factor determining the desirability of your free special report is the topic: Does it cover something your prospects need or want to know? Great topics for free special reports include tips, predictions, news, interpretations, analyses, case studies, and discussions of controversial issues.

Example: The publisher of a newsletter found that its most popular feature was the monthly “You Be the Judge” column, which summarized a court case and challenged the reader to guess the outcome. Subscription rates skyrocketed when he began offering a “Best of ‘You Be the Judge'” compilation as a bonus to new subscribers.

I’ve found that anything having to do with making money works well as a free information bonus.

Example: Another newsletter publisher found that when they offered a reprint of their annual industry salary survey as a bonus for new subscribers, orders for new subscriptions increased 25 percent.

Giving your free report an attractive or compelling title also helps boost response rates.

Example: During the Clinton years, American Spectator offered a special report titled something like “Inside the Clinton White House.” (That may not be the exact title. It was years ago, and memory fades.)

Put a price in the upper-right corner of the front cover of each report that you intend to use as a premium. Then set up a “reports library” on your website where visitors can purchase the reports for that price. That way, when you give them away as free bonuses and specify the value, you can legitimately say: “This report sells for $29 on our website, but reply today and it’s yours free.”

Here’s a gimmick that works well if you want to use the report in your marketing to build your image as a leader in your industry: Instead of using an 8-1/2″ x 11″ page size, make it digest size (5-1/2″ x 8-1/2″) and publish it as a small paperback book. Let’s say the report is tips about leadership. Print the title on the front cover in reverse – white letters on a black background – and call it “The Little Black Book of Leadership Secrets.” (“Secrets” and “Little Black Book” create an aura of importance and exclusivity that will make people want the information.) Then, when you offer it free in your marketing, you can position your company as “The Folks Who ‘Wrote the Book'” on Topic X.

Since so many marketers offer free reports, you may stand out by offering free information via other media – e.g., audio CDs, videos, software, online tools.

Here’s a way to quickly and easily create that kind of premium: Promote a paid teleconference to your list and record it. Then duplicate it on audio CD and offer that as a bonus. If you charged $79 for the teleconference, you can legitimately say the CD has a value of $79. (That’s important, because the higher the perceived value of the free bonus, the greater the demand for it will be.)

One final tip: If you sell to the federal market, keep in mind that government employees are not allowed to accept free gifts worth more than $25. So the price on your free book or report aimed at them should be $24.97.

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 Quality begins on the inside… and then works its way out.” Bob Moawad

Bob Bly is a copywriting master and the author of more than 70 books. For expert insights into the world of direct marketing, sign up for his free monthly newsletter, Direct Response Letter. Do so today and get over $100 in free bonuses.]