1. Give it All Away for Free
Though there is nothing new about giving away services for free in hopes of up-selling customers into the “paid versions” of your products or services, there are still many businesses that dread the thought of offering a “free” product. Release your fears! There are countless examples of highly successful, high-valuation companies which have used this strategy to build empires and dominate markets. Evernote is a great example of this. They started out as a ‘paid’ product but did not get much traction. It wasn’t until they created a ‘freemium’ version that demand and sales for their premium paid version took off.
Mobile Apps have helped make our demanding schedules a heck of a lot more tolerable. I’m old enough to remember what life was like before ‘meeting invites’ and virtual presentations. Ugh! The concept of creating a ‘free’ or nearly free ($.99) product extends to the ‘Internet of Things’ as well. Developing applications for Android and Apple has never been more cost effective or easier. There are hundreds of high-quality resources for this…and no excuse for you to overlook this potential gold mine. Billion dollar companies have been created around meeting the demands on ‘Internet of Things’ which is not limited to Android and Apple. There are a great many environments and devices that you could be developing applications for, from smart light bulbs to forest fire detection, there are no limits.
3. The Commerce of You
Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest…the list goes on and on. What do they have in common? They’re all billion dollar companies where the commerce is “you”. Yes, there are no membership charges of any kind for any of these services…they’re all 100% free to join and use. So how could they possibly have billion dollar valuations? It appears as though someone is willing to pay these services to know how many times you’ve liked Grandma’s “throw back Thursday” pictures (Okay, I’m poking fun but the detailed information they’re collecting about you is too frightening to make mention of). These social services thrive on “hooks”, variable rewards and habit forming behaviors. How can your business leverage the “commerce of you”? Hmmm…I would suggest you learn more about hooks and variable rewards. With the right formula, this could be a significant driver behind customer acquisition and expanding your sales volume.
4. Free Webinars and Question and Answer Sessions
Everyone loves a good webinar, myself included. I don’t often have the time to attend as many as I would like too, but I will often register for one as long as they’re willing to send me a link to the full webinar that I can watch at my leisure. I place a real premium on in-depth interviews and Q & A’s with recognizable industry figures and/or executives from companies that I admire. Webinars can be a very fruitful lead generation source for your business…so do not hesitate to put in the effort to host substantive webinars regularly!
5. How-To Videos
Good “How-To” videos are almost always impossible to find. Especially from giants companies like Google that are constantly changing their interface and rolling out new features. Trying doing a search on anything related to the “new” Google AdWords, or Google Analytics interface and you will get videos from every outdated version going back 5 years. I can’t speak for you, but this drives me absolutely ape shit. I’ve worked with hundreds of companies in dozens of verticals and almost none of them are on top of ensuring they have videos for their latest product updates and/or deliverables. Most companies and businesses are really weak on video. Youtube is the second largest search engine in the world.This is a huge opportunity. YouTube cost-per-view is cheap and there is no better way to push your brand into public awareness. Blendtec used YouTube to drive a 700%+ increase in revenue with their ever popular “Will It blend” series. What are you waiting for?
6. Free Podcasts
Similar to webinars, a high quality podcast is something I am always seeking out. Podcasts are very popular and many of us who are into podcasts and always looking for something that relates to our job or industry. Creating a podcast has never been easier and putting together an interesting and informative show is really not as hard as you think. If you are an industry insider and are willing to share your expertise, or you’re in the PR department and you can convinces a couple of industry insiders to share their insights, tips and information, podcasting is a cost effective way for subtlety spread the word about your company. Make sure you give away your podcasts for free!
7. News Jacking
What is news jacking? Newsjacking is the process by which you inject your ideas or angles into breaking news, in real-time, in order to generate media coverage for yourself or your business. I would highly recommend that you choose your subjects carefully, and focus on issues that are related to your area of expertise. For example, imagine you were a company that specializes in home security systems and a story breaks about a family who’s beloved pet wondered away after a door was left open during a break-in. You immediately issue a press release and contact the Family and the local newspaper and offer the family a free home security system with a free pet GPS tracker. All of a sudden your company is being mentioned in all of the local news broadcasts along with the story of the family and the search for Fido. This technique will work but you will need to act fast!
8. Incentivize Customers to Share Content
This is as simple as it sounds. Want your visitors or customers to share your brand with their friends and family? Offer them an incentive. Give them a discount on your services if they share your product with 5 friends. Heck, you can also offer their friends a discount. While you’re add it, offer regular discounts to your customers to “Share” your brand on their social media accounts, as well as “Like” and “Follow” your social media content. This is a low cost way to reach people and create brand awareness.
9. Write a Column for the Local Paper
It’s much easier to get published than you think it is. Your local newspaper has a relentless demand for fresh and relevant content. If you’re highly experienced or an expert in a particular field or subject, odds are that your column will get published. Let’s imagine that you owned a home painting company. You could write a short column called “5 Essential Tips for Preparing Your Home’s Exterior for Spring Painting”. The newspaper will jump at the chance to publish your column and it will also list your name and your business/contact information as well. This is free press that establishes you as an expert in your field and something you can make copies of and hand out to potential customers. A win-win.
10. Monitor and Participate in Online Communities
Last but not least: start participating in online communities. Did someone on a Subreddit somewhere ask a question about a topic that you are uniquely qualified to answer? Well you’d better get on it, because these types of questions are being asked daily! You may wish to set up a “Google Alert” around some very specific topical keywords, this way you can stay on top of any online chatter and respond whenever and wherever appropriate. This is an ideal way to not only reach very targeted prospects but also get the word out to others following the conversation. LinkedIn, Facebook Groups, Subreddits, Quora and Twitter are all great examples of communities that you should be monitoring regularly.
11. Bonus: Freelance and Product Aggregation Sites
You have most likely heard of sites like eBay, Etsy and Amazon, where just about anyone call sell their wares. But there are also many niche sites out there like codecayon.net which specializes in scripts and code snippets. If you look hard enough, I’m certain you will find a site where you can register and sell your wares. From Photographs to stock Video footage to ready-made Photoshop templates. There’s also a smorgasbord of freelancer websites where you can offer your services for a negotiated fee. These are great opportunities to introduce your brand, product or solution to a very receptive audience!