Moving the free line - why it's good for your business to offer more for nothing

Published 04/12/2017
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"Lead with a better foot forward."
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There's a term that's well known to those in marketing - 'move the free line' (thanks, Eben Pagan).

However, for those not 'au fait' with the phrase, here's a little blog post that will explain it for you, and tell you why you need to consider moving your free line to generate bigger sales and acquire more customers.

We've even doodled a graph for you. Because that's how we roll.

What is the free line?

The free line is what you use to illustrate how much value is in the products and services you give away for free to your audience and prospective clients. It also helps you decide how much you can charge for your products and services.

You can see we have cost on the vertical axis, value on the horizontal axis and a diagonal line that illustrates that as value goes up, so does cost. We're keeping it simple.

Along the value line, we've drawn two 'free lines'. One is Tim and Lucy's free line, and the other is Luke and Emma's. Now we're going to use these free lines to illustrate the value in moving your free line.

The value of moving the free line

The best way to explain the concept of moving the free line is with an example. So, without further delay, we introduce you to Tim, Lucy, Luke and Emma.

  • Tim and Lucy are content marketers. They have developed a one-day course and they want to sell the course to businesses for £1,000. This is a premium product, and both Lucy and Tim are experts in their field.

Tim and Lucy offer a 30-minute consultation as a freebie to any prospective new clients.

  • Luke and Emma are also content marketers. For argument's sake let's also say that they're as good as Lucy and Tim, and they also have a one-day course they're looking to sell for £1,000.

Luke and Emma offer a 3 page downloadable PDF and a 1-hour workshop for free to any prospective new clients.

Luke and Emma's free offer is far more valuable than Tim and Lucy's.

They have, therefore 'moved the free line' much further along the value axis and, by proxy, much higher up the cost axis (thank-you, diagonal line). Because of that, they are far more likely to attract customers that will pay for their £1,000 course.

Why does this work?

Because Luke and Emma's free content helps justify the cost of their 1-day course.

They are able to show their prospects that they know their stuff, can be trusted, and are authorities in their field. This gives them a huge advantage over Tim and Lucy, who haven't really proved anything, or given their prospects a reason to think they'll be worth what they're charging.

So what should you do next?

First of all, you're going to need to come up with something that you can give away for free. You'll need to create content that's valuable and can be shared with prospective clients at not too great a cost (in both time and money) to you or your business.

EXAMPLE: Think about it this way - car dealerships don't give away free cars, but they do give away free test drives. That way the customer gets a feel for the vehicle at no cost to themselves, and it's not a huge cost for the dealership either.

They're proving the quality and value of the car to the customer, making them far more likely to pay for it than if the test drive wasn't offered.

What you're trying to do is give your prospective clients some of the value you offer with your products and services up front for nothing. This sort of activity gives your clients a much clearer idea of what it is you offer, and how good you are at doing what you do. It also holds you to a higher standard when you deliver your products and services too, which is a nice bonus.

What sort of products or services should you give away?

Well, that's probably another blog post in itself, but try to think along the lines of free workshops, free downloads, product or service trials, webinars, e-books etc. Something that ideally can be created once, and then shared without limit after. The more value you pack into the free product, the further along the free line you can travel, and higher up the cost line you go.

To put it simply, and from your prospect’s perspective - when they see how valuable your free stuff is, they are more likely to think your paid-for services and products will be worth the cost.

So move the free line, offer more value up front for nothing, and see what difference it makes when it comes to generating more higher-paying customers.

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