I’m not the biggest fan of ‘moving the free line’ and showering subscribers with free gifts for days or even weeks on end without selling anything.
I’m sure you’ve heard of this strategy before from various guru’s in the marketing world but in case you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s basically giving away your best content to your subscribers in order to invoke the law of reciprocity.
The idea behind this theory is that people will be so rapt with all the great value you provide for free that they’ll just naturally reward you with sales when you eventually pitch them a paid offer whether it be a few days or weeks later.
Basically, moving the free line is supposed to ‘incubate’ your subscribers and make them see how much you’re helping them, how much value you’re providing them for free and they’ll just think you’re wonderful.
I just think that it’s a flawed idea as you’ll see below.
1. Making people wait to get help is just stupid and borderline sadistic
People that sign up to your mailing list are doing so because they have problems they need help with otherwise they wouldn’t have signed up.
Yet, you want to make them wait for days before you even offer them a paid solution that will actually solve that problem for them in the name of goodwill and relationship building?
I think that is nuts and borderline sadistic. You’re basically just letting people suffer and for the most insane of reasons.
They are looking for help NOW so now is the best time to offer them your paid products and services. Running them through email sequences that don’t sell anything all in the name of relationship building and goodwill is just retarded if you ask me.
Furthermore, by the time you do get around to offering your paid offer, they’ll probably have lost interest or have bought from your competitor who is actually willing to make them an offer.
I’ll give you an example of how stupid people can be with this strategy.
Just this year there was a consultant I follow online and I am on his email list. Now he was offering a new course on Facebook ads.
I started watching his video training series. I watched the first video and was hooked. I wanted to buy the product there are now but there was no buy button anywhere on the page. I emailed this guy’s customer support to see if I could buy it now but get ready for it – they told me I had to WAIT for the next two videos to be released before I could buy.
Which would mean waiting 5 more days until the last video was released.
Can you believe it? I certainly couldn’t.
I completely lost interest after that. I wanted his solution to my problem now because I was planning to start Facebook advertising but yet I couldn’t buy the training course.
It was ridiculous. So I didn’t even bother after that and ended up buying from one of his competitors who wasn’t going to make me wait to get the help I wanted.
That’s just me but I imagine there would be a tonne of people who have done something similar.
2. You attract the WORST kind of clients and customers
By using this strategy, you actually attract the WORST kinds of clients and customers.
People who are freebie seekers who want nothing more than to suck you dry of everything you have and give you nothing in return.
Now, if you’re like me and primarily sell services then you know your time is incredibly valuable and the people you choose to work with is super important.
But, when all you do is offer free stuff to your list without ever pitching at all, you just keep on giving and giving without asking anything in return.
What you’re doing is actually conditioning them to respond in a certain way. Your conditioning them to respond with – keep giving me free stuff and I won’t give you anything in return at all, because why should I?
That’s basically what you’re doing and this has its roots in behavioural psychology. Look up Operant Conditioning.
Furthermore, I have also seen instances and heard stories from business owners that have run these relationship building sequences and then sold something later on only to piss off most people on their list and get a tonne of unsubscribes.
Just because they started to sell and pitch, and this is because they had conditioned their subscribers to expect free without giving up anything in return.
3. You’re being a massive suck and up and projecting desperation
When all you do is provide free content and gifts in your emails with zero pitching, what you’re doing is basically the equivalent of the guy who showers a gorgeous girl with free gifts on the first date. Buys her dinner, jewellery, clothes and god knows what else just to try and get something.
All you’re doing is being a suck up and projecting that you’re desperate.
Instead, you should be adopting the position that you’re the prize (because you are, you have something that can help them with their problem) and selling them as soon as they get on your list.
A rule of life is that people in general don’t respect suck ups and wuss’s.
They respect people who have respect for themselves and their time.
I liken showering subscribers with endless free gifts as a lack of respect for yourself and your business.
All these constant free gifts do is say, ‘I love you, you’re amazing and I need you more than you need me.’
Personally, I run for the hills when I see this kind of desperation.
4. You become a massive let down
Another big issue with this is being a big let down.
So many times I have spoken to business owners that have started offering modules from their paid courses as freebies to their list all in the name of sucking up to them.
However, when they go to sell their course, they get a huge amount of refunds because they feel let down.
Now, you could argue that perhaps the final product just wasn’t good enough. However, I believe there is more to it than that.
I believe it’s a case of them offering so much of their paid course for free that by the time the customer actually bought, they just didn’t think it was that worthwhile of an investment anymore.
It’s like they’ve had their expectations shattered and the value of the product went down in their own mind because they were able to get so much of it for nothing previously.
You have to be careful with what and how you give stuff like this away for free because free when used like this means, ‘not very high value.’
Essentially, that is what you sub-communicate and it can end up destroying the value of your paid products and services when you get around to promoting them.
5. People just don’t value free enough
I really think people just don’t value free enough to do anything with it and as a result, you end up turning your potential clients into nothing but mooches.
You could shower your subscribers with free gifts everyday in the name of relationship building but most probably won’t do anything at all with the information you give them.
Let’s look at it this way.
If you have a Lamborghini you paid $800.000 for, how much do you think you’d value that car?
Then imagine if you got the same car for free and now had both of them.
Which one do you think you’d value more?
99% of people would value the one they PAID money for over the free car because it required a tonne of investment to afford the car in the first place.
It’s the same with a home as well. The reason people cherish homes so much is because of how much they invest in it to get it.
The same principle applies with anything.
Getting stuff for free requires zero investment monetarily and emotionally. Therefore, you just don’t value it anywhere near as much as something you paid money for.
What’s The Alternative?
Do I believe you shouldn’t use free stuff?
Not at all.
However, I think it should really only be used as a way to get people to opt-in to your email list and that’s it.
Free stuff needs to be used a way to get them into your funnel so you can SELL stuff to them, not repeatedly shower them with free gifts and turn them into freebie seekers without selling at all.
Instead of sucking up to your list with goodwill or incubator sequences or whatever you want to call them, start pitching from day one.
There is no reason you can’t simultaneously build a relationship with your list from that first email you send and also pitch a paid offer.
They are not mutually exclusive of each other.
I used to follow this moving the free line advice relentlessly. I would wait days to even make a pitch for Strategy Session for my services.
Now, I’m pitching straight away as soon as someone subscribes to my list and I make no apologies for it.
And I have noticed the difference, the obvious difference being that I’m now filling my schedule with more Strategy Sessions than before.
And the reason is because I make offers for my Strategy Sessions every single day rather than once per week or sometimes once per month like I was previously.
Tell your subscribers from day one that you pitch your own services and sell your own products. Tell them that you promote affiliate offers (if you do). The best thing to do is just be honest.
And for all of you who follow the guru’s advice about this ‘moving the free line’ without even questioning it, like I once did, ask yourself the following:
- Does this really work in every market for every business?
- Do you have the rockstar positioning of these guru’s?
- Do you have their celebrity appeal in your own marketplace?
- Is your business exactly like their business?
There are a lot of things you need to think about. Just because it works for that person, doesn’t mean it will work for you.
By all means, try out moving the free line if you want. It may be great for you.
But for me personally, I just think it’s a waste of time and I’d rather start selling from day one.
If you need more help selling from the get go via email and creating a system that does the kind of selling and relationship building I’m talking about then click here.