When is Free Not Too Expensive?

Last week, I ran my most popular blog post on “Why Free is Too Expensive” and I was inundated with comments, emails, facebook messages and tweets about how much my message resonated with you.

Lisa Larter - Time to GiveWhile I stick to my guns on that post, I want to double back now and talk about when offering something in your business for free makes sense.  Because, there are times when it’s the right thing to do.

Free should be strategic.  That’s right, you can give things away when there is a calculated and measurable outcome that you, the business owner, are looking for.  Here are some examples of when free has worked for me.

1. Social to Successful video series In this series I offered some free training via video and the series ended with me offering people an opportunity to work with me in my 5 Weeks to Be Social program.

This was intentional.  The free videos and webinar were offered to build my list and to create an opportunity for people to sample some of my training, and then buy if they wanted more.

The strategic and measurable part was how many new people opted into my list, and how many people bought.  If I did not have those objectives in mind – this entire project would not have made sense.

I grew my list significantly and a bunch of people bought my program.  Free worked as a lead generator to introduce a program.

2.  Free Toolkit on my website.  When you go to my website, you see a splash page where, in exchange for your email address, I will give you some materials I created for free.

This is a list building tactic that is quite common and popular and has helped me go from zero to thousands in building my list.  Because I communicate with the people who subscribe to my list every single week – it makes sense.

If I did not communicate with them, had no way for them to work with me – it would be pointless.

3. I Volunteer with Volunteer Canada and they like me!  I get asked to go for coffee so people can “pick my brain” all day long.  I determine who I will volunteer my time with, so it is a win/win situation.

When Volunteer Canada approached me and asked for help, my response was “Sure! – On one condition.”  I will volunteer a set amount of time each month to work with you in exchange for a testimonial and the ability to work at the right level in supporting you.

This creates a win/win partnership where I can help them, and I can leverage the experience of working with a large organization who is happy to endorse my work, as long as I provide a positive impact.

Instead of doing “free piecework” and hoping it will translate into business, I have picked my organization that I am willing to support, I have set boundaries around what I can and cannot do, and I treat them like I would a paying client.

This works for me!  I feel good about the contribution, it allows me to stand in my power when it comes to giving back (no need to feel guilty for not helping others) and I can reference them on my website.

These are three examples of how Free can build value in your business.

Doing free work on a “prayer” that they might hire you, or on a promise of being mentioned on Facebook is not how you want to run your business.

Remember, unless you are making money, it is a hobby, not a business.

Choose your Free strategies with care – they are not free, they take up your time, effort and energy.

My parting thought to you – have a “No thank you, I can’t do that” message crafted for when these requests come in so you are prepared and know exactly how to handle them. This way, it comes from a place of confidence versus a place of pressure.

What are some of the ways you gracefully say no to doing free work?


1 thought on “When is Free Not Too Expensive?”

  1. Interesting stuff. I’ve always assumed that, for the most part, giving something away for free had as its intention finding new ways to generate income. Then I did an evaluation of a free ebook I’ve been helping to push on one of my blogs that almost no one downloads, probably because it’s free and they don’t see the value in it. That’s a shame, but I guess that’s how it goes and is proof that “free” doesn’t always get it done.

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Lisa Larter Bio Image of Lisa x400

Lisa Larter

Founder and CEO of the Lisa Larter Group, master strategist, author, speaker, podcast host, social media expert, consultant, and business coach. Lisa inspires entrepreneurs and business owners to see the possibilities for their organizations when it comes to strategy. She uncomplicates modern marketing and creates (and implements) strategies for businesses that are guaranteed to increase visibility, inbound leads, and revenue.

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