17 Fun Freebies that Build Thought Leadership

by | Dec 12, 2011 | Blog, Blog Archive, Multi-Channel Marketing | 0 comments

If you’re a smart marketer, you know that the easiest sale of all is a sale to someone who already knows, likes and trusts you.

One of the best ways to create loyalty long before a customer buys from you and position yourself as a thought leader is to offer a valuable freebie that ties into your topic.  A free ebook, White Paper, quiz, special report or a calculator can be a convenient way to enhance your expertise, position yourself as the go-to expert in your field, and generate free publicity for your company.

Journalists and bloggers love telling their readers about these freebies. Readers love getting them, and they’re eager to share the goodies with their friends and followers on the social media sites.

Why Freebies are Like Gold

Smart marketers know that these give-aways are a perfect way to bring people into a product funnel. From a free special report, you can upsell readers to a $27 eBook – and after the eBook, upsell them again to a $197 event, or consulting services.

This is why it’s imperative to include a strong call to action–such as “Call for a free estimate….”–from each freebie.

Or…don’t sell them anything. Force them to opt in with their name and email address, and congratulations – they’re now on your email list. You have plenty of time later to milk the cow once you get it into the barn.

Here, then, are 17 items to consider giving away and examples of how other companies and nonprofits use them:

    1. Assessment Test – LiveCareer, a career site, offers a free career assessment test in exchange for your email address. The assessment helps you understand whether or not a specific job is the right match for you.
    2. Audio Recording – The National Association of Tax Professionals offers a free 60-second audio recording filled with tips on changes in the rules for tax preparers and how to find one at tax time. People can then complete a form at the website that lets them search the NATP Member Directory.
    3. Comparison Chart – Peter E. Randall Publisher, LLC, a subsidy book publisher, offers a comparison chart that gives authors an understanding of different publishing options. The chart saves time when fielding inquiries from random authors who are unaware of the difference between a trade house and a subsidy house, such as Peter E. Randall, and self-publishing.
    4. Cost Reduction Guide – Hitachi, one of the UK’s leading vehicle specialists, offers a free 11-page PDF titled “Reduce Your Fleet Costs in Nine Simple Steps.” Many of the steps include strong calls to action: “Request your free fleet funding and policy review by emailing…”
    5. Dictionaries (Industry Specific) – Accounting Institute Seminars offers a dictionary of auditing terms. You’ll also find a Glossary of Whiskey Terms, a Children’s Astronomy Glossary from NASA, and hundreds of other dictionaries at YourDictionary.com, many of them sponsored.
    6. eBookProfitable Hospitality, which provides profit strategies for hotels, clubs and restaurants, gives away a free eBook on 489 Ways to Cut Costs in Restaurants, Cafes, Clubs, Catering & Hotels. It forces visitors to opt in and asks them to check one or more boxes to identify the kinds of businesses they manage. What a great way to segment their list!
    7. Email Course – I offer a free course, “89 Ways to Write Powerful Press Releases.” The 89 lessons (some long, some short) are like a graduate-level course in press releases. Most lessons, one delivered each day via autoresponder, include links to product pages at my website or to pages where I sell other people’s related products or services for a commission. More than 6,000 people have taken the course.
    8. Formulas – In exchange for an email address, Blogger Chris Garrett gives away a five-page PDF that lists 102 headline writing formulas perfect for articles, press releases, blog posts, a sales page at your website, or a paid ad. Example: “Get Rid of Your ___________ Once and For All.” That link, by the way, already has been retweeted more than 770 times!
    9. Help Sheet – WPCandy.com, experts in WordPress blogs, created the WordPress Help Sheet and the Advanced WordPress Help Sheet. These help sheets are packed with PHP snippets, basic template files, and other helpful information for novices or programmers. Both have been translated into several languages, allowing the company to become better known to the rest of the world.
    10. Practice Test – Sporty’s Pilot Shop which sells a wide variety of supplies for pilots, also has a flight school. At their website, you can take a practice test for the FAA written test to get your pilot’s license.
    11. Reference Chart – Casino expert Bill Burton offers a handy printed Craps Reference Chart that explains simple bets, the house edge and the payoff for each bet. It can be folded to fit easily in a shirt pocket. The inside of the chart looks like the craps table layout as an added bonus.
    12. Return-on-investment Calculator – The George Washington University Medical Center offers an Alcohol Cost Calculator that helps businesses learn how much they can save in health care costs when employees have access to alcoholism or alcohol abuse treatment.
    13. Slide Chart – Slide charts are similar to slide rules. You match up a moving or sliding scale with pre-printed calculations on a fixed scale to obtain an answer simply and quickly. Surprisingly complex answers or calculations can be provided with this simple, entertaining format. At AmericanSlideChart.com, you can fill out a form for a sample slide chart.
    14. Study Guides – At PinkMonkey.com, you can read more than 460 free study guides, book notes, book reviews and online chapter summaries, or buy printed versions.
    15. Test Drive – The Gift List, a subscription service, provides contact information for more than 250 top daily public advertising media channels that are planning features on consumer products that would make great gifts. Before you subscribe to the service, you can take a test drive.
    16. Trouble-shooting Guide – Techies love this one. Practically Networked, a website for IT professionals, has a variety of troubleshooting guides for networking problems.
    17. VideoWill It Blend? is arguably the most famous series of videos that have sold a consumer product. The videos–which feature their industrial-strength blenders demolishing golf balls, glow sticks, rake handles and even the head of a skeleton–went viral so quickly that the little-known company received mega-publicity and mega-sales. Their iPhone app has been downloaded more than 100 million times.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsTZm7QtY84&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&version=3]

Tips to Help You Promote It

Once you decide on the kind of freebie you want to offer, make sure you devote a unique landing page to it so you can track your traffic and conversion. Don’t link to your homepage and expect people to hunt for it.

You can use these freebies in conjunction with a new product launch, an email promotion, a pay-per-click campaign, or simply to generate a little publicity.

Let the world know what you’re giving away. Write a press release. Share it on the social media sites. Pitch bloggers. Buy pay-per-click ads. Create a video for YouTube. And don’t forget to pitch traditional media.

Show this list to your team, and brainstorm fun ways to use freebies in your multi-channel marketing. The most difficult part of the exercise will be settling on just one.

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Publicity expert Joan Stewart, aka The Publicity Hound, helps people promote any product, service, cause or issue using traditional media and social media. She shares tips like these in her free weekly ezine, The Publicity Hound’s Tips of the Week. Sign up for her tips at PublicityHound.com. She also shares hundreds of free PR resources on Twitter at Twitter.com/PublicityHound. This is her first guest post for The Distributed Marketing Blog.