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    When to Use Free Stuff to Market Your Products and Services
    Copyright © 2005, Bill Platt

    You may use this image in your ezine or website if you choose to publish my article. --- Bill Platt
    You may use this image in your ezine or website if you choose to publish my article. Click here to see the picture full-sized.--- Bill Platt
    SIT AND CONTEMPLATE THIS STORY 
    
    In 1999, I was contacted by a furniture company asking for 
    advice about how to turn around their internet business. It
    seems that they were very successful in the non-digital,
    real-world, business environment. They were a small enterprise
    generating a few million dollars a year in sales for their
    furniture products.
    
    Yet, they had been on the internet for three years at that
    time, and they had yet to sell their first piece of furniture
    online.
    
    As was explained to me, they were pumping the traffic through
    their website to the tune of 100,000 unique visitors every 
    month. But, for some reason, they were selling zero products.
    
    This was a manufacturing company who was trying to jump into
    the retail market through their website.
    
    I took a look at their site. Their products looked excellent.
    Their website could have been tweaked to make it easier to
    navigate. They could have changed the color scheme to make
    it a bit more attractive and easier on the eyes. 
    
    But, the truth be known, manufacturers are not always the best 
    people to write the sales copy for their products. Sure, their 
    descriptions were great if they were using their websites to 
    reach out to more retailers and wholesale agents, but they were 
    trying to reach into the direct retail market. 
    
    They honestly needed a different type of copywriter to sit down 
    and write the sales copy for their products. They needed someone 
    who specialized in selling products to the end user rather than 
    someone who was good at selling to the people who wished to buy 
    and sell their products. They also needed a copywriter who 
    understood the nuances of using words to help drive targeted 
    traffic to their website through the search engines and online 
    advertising.
    
    Each of these points helped them to better tailor their website
    to reach their intended customers. But, the one point that 
    helped them to turn their bad money into good money was to 
    recognize that they Should Not give away a free office chair
    every month to some lucky visitor. 
    
    I don't know if you realize it or not, but there are hundreds
    of websites and ezines dedicated to help people to find free
    stuff on the internet for the taking. 
    
    My ex-girlfriend spent a solid six months online looking for 
    free stuff and registering for give-aways. She was knocking 
    down anywhere from $300 to $500 per month just in free 
    products from the websites she visited. 
    
    The important question to ask yourself is this. 
    
    Did she ever intend to buy a single product from a single 
    website that she visited??? Nope. She was Not on the internet
    to buy things. She was on the internet to Get free things. 
    
    In the previous 18 months, the furniture company that I was
    advising had given away 18 office chairs with a value of $300
    each. 
    
    As soon as they removed the monthly drawing for a free chair, 
    their traffic nearly dried up. As it turned out, 98% of their
    site traffic was only dropping around to register for a chance
    to win a free chair.
    
    Now, our furniture company was ready to get down to the business
    of selling chairs without wasting their resources on people who
    were there only for the freebie.
    
    
    THERE IS A TIME AND PLACE FOR EVERYTHING, INCLUDING "FREE"
    
    So-called internet guru's jump up on their soapboxes and declare
    that you should give away something in order to drive paying 
    customers to your website.  
    
    What kind of "customers" do they say??? Paying Customers???
    
    I don't think so.
    
    If the thing that you are giving away has any real value, then
    be prepared for an onslaught of freebie-seekers to come around
    sucking up your bandwidth and your free products and services
    of value. 
    
    If what you are offering has zero real value, then you need to
    know that the people you are trying to draw in with your freebie
    will see right through your offer and see you for the sham that
    you are trying to sell.
    
    
    FREE EBOOKS OR FREE ADS TO GET SUBSCRIBERS
    
    I used to believe that I could offer a free ebook to people to
    get them to subscribe to my ezine. I should have known better.
    
    For a six-week period, I tested the concept of "free" to get
    subscribers for my own ezine. On the surface, it worked great. 
    Under the microscope, it was an abject failure. 
    
    In the six weeks that I offered a free ebook in exchange for
    a new subscriber, I netted 500 new subscribers per week. Then 
    on the following week, I noticed that I had really only netted 
    50 new subscribers for my efforts. Okay cool, I thought, I am 
    picking up 50 new subscribers every week on account of my 
    promotion. So, I ran my promotion again with similar results. 
    
    At the end of six weeks, I thought to myself, "Wow! I picked
    up 300 new subscribers for my efforts."
    
    Then a funny thing happened. I stopped the promotion for a 
    few weeks and found myself up only twenty subscribers from 
    when I started my freebie campaign. 
    
    Odd I thought. At the time, I was running my own list server, 
    and I had a hankering to know the truth. 
    
    If you don't know what a "hankering" is, I am from Oklahoma,
    so we get those a lot. ;-) Dictionary.com defines a "hankering"
    as, "To have a strong, often restless desire."
    
    When you have a hankering and you have the time, you can find 
    the truth of a matter. 
    
    After comparing the timing of the release of my "freebie"
    advertisement with the subscription timestamps, comparing 
    those with my new subscriber comments to eliminate the people
    who told me they subscribed as a result of a referral, and
    then comparing the remaining addresses to my unsubscription
    records, I learned what I should have known in advance of my
    campaign. 
    
    90% of the people who came for the freebie were gone in a week.
    A full 99% of the people who came for the freebie were gone in
    three weeks. Only 1% of the freebie takers lasted for more than
    a few weeks, and a large majority of those were completely gone
    after three months. 
    
    The successes that I felt that I had accomplished, from offering
    a freebie for subscription, turned out to be a complete waste 
    of my time and energy.
    
    
    NEVER EVER GIVE AWAY YOUR BREAD AND BUTTER
    
    Those of you who know who I am also know that I offer a service
    of value to people who write articles to promote their online
    businesses. 
    
    Now and again, I will get someone knocking on my door, promising
    me tons of new business, if only I will give them one freebie
    to prove the value of my service. 
    
    Going against my better instincts, I did take this offer on two
    occasions. I won't do it again.
    
    See, the thing is that the writer is responsible for creating 
    a title that is appealing to both the publishers and the 
    readers. Without a good title, an article will fail to produce 
    results. 
    
    The writer is responsible for the creation of the article and
    the presentation of his information in an interesting and 
    intriguing manner. Without a good story, an article will fail
    to produce results.
    
    The writer is responsible for the wording of the Author's
    Resource Box. If the resource box is unappealing to the reader,
    then the reader will not click through and review the writer's
    website or program. 
    
    The writer is responsible for tackling a topic that would be
    of interest to his target market. If an article does not reach
    the people who would be interested in what the writer is selling,
    then the article will again fail to produce the desired results.
    
    If a writer sends me a crud article that has no hope for 
    accomplishing the results that he or she desires, then the
    fault is not mine. I did my part. I put their article into 
    the hands of more than 12,000 publishers who were looking 
    for content to reprint in their ezines and their websites. 
    
    If the writer fails to create an article that will serve his 
    desired end, and he gets to use my service to put it into 
    circulation, then the writer will need a scapegoat for his
    or her failure. There I am, the scapegoat for the failures
    of the writer.
    
    
    I SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF MYSELF, THEY SAY...
    
    The last guy who asked me to give a freebie distribution for
    his article got mad when I said no. He proceeded to brow beat
    me for being unwilling to give away something away in order to
    earn his business on the backside. After all he said, he gives
    away a lot of free stuff on his website to drum up new business.
    
    It is true that it takes a lot to ruffle my feathers. Everyone
    who knows me well knows that it takes a miracle to make me mad.
    This is a fact seriously upsets my wife when she is in a mood 
    to argue... ;-)
    
    This guy made me mad, but I held my temper in check.
    
    Sir, if you knew me, you would also know that I give several
    hours of my week to help other writers distribute their articles
    for free on the internet. People who know me know that I own 
    and moderate hundreds of open-membership, moderated-posting,
    article distribution groups on the internet. 
    
    It takes a lot of my time to make these resources available to
    the internet community and to make sure that these resources are
    not abused, and I do not get paid to provide these "free" writer
    resources. 
    
    Sir, I give a lot back to the writer's who make up the writing
    community on the internet. I just don't give away my bread
    and butter. And, if I were to give away a bread and butter job, 
    I would much prefer to give that service to a paying customer
    rather than to a person who out-of-the-blue is promising me 
    the moon and the stars.
    
    
    IN CONCLUSION
    
    I don't give away my bread and butter, to anyone, and you should 
    not either. There is a time and place for everything, including
    freebies. Just be careful that you don't give your products and
    services to people who are only there to get a freebie from you.
     
    



    Writer's Resource Box:
    Through his article distribution services, Bill can deliver your 
    articles to 12,000+ publishers & webmasters eager for content. 
    http://thePhantomWriters.com --- 1400+ articles archived.
    
    Bill Platt's newest site is http://TechCentralPublishing.com. 
    TechCentral Publishing offers Ebooks and DVD's of interest to 
    folks who are seeking to learn something new. Our information 
    products tend to center around History, Technology & E-Commerce.
    Be Sure to Check Out:  White Male Privilege by Mark Rosenkranz




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