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Taking It Personally #2: Stop sucking at opt-ins, giveaways, and freebies.

Opt-ins, freebies, pink spoons: these are all names for that thing you’re offering like a carrot on a stick to get more signups to your list.

I like carrots, but I’m not a donkey.

And unless you are a carrot farmer selling organic free-range artisan carrots to discerning vegetarians with disposable income, you can’t just pull one out of the ground, wipe off the dirt, and offer it to your list.

Let’s back up a bit here.

What’s an opt-in freebie for, anyway? What is its purpose?

At its simplest, an opt-in freebie is a useful thing you are giving away to the pool of potential customers inside your target market, in exchange for the privilege of showing up in their inbox from time to time.

At its most complicated, it is not just a freebie, but a pink spoon — a taste of what you already do — that primes them to want more, converting them from a cool or warm lead into a customer ready to plunk down cash for your products, services, and artisanal carrot experiences.

Do you know your target market well enough to make something they want?

It’s all well and good to spend a few days writing up a short ebook, or series of autoresponders, or a worksheet, but if you don’t know who you’re talking to or why they want to listen to you, you are probably wasting your time.

The process of making things is good and useful in and of itself, so don’t be discouraged if you have already spent time making something that nobody seems to want.

But to be blunt — and I know that’s what you need right now — stop creating freebies that are just as useful as the hand-painted ash tray you gave your Grandma when you were nine, even though she doesn’t smoke.

We all need to stop adding to the noise.

Before you join another giveaway event, or brainstorm new opt-in gifts, take a moment or several and consider whether you actually NEED to add something more to the pile of PDFs and audios we all have taking up space on our devices.

And another revolutionary thought to consider: do you need to tie the gift to your list?

What if you give something away purely to be a useful part of your community?

What if you provide an enticing small droplet of what you do, in a way that can be used without anyone feeling beholden to you?

What if you remove the strings and just give without reserve, trusting in connections instead of numbers?

What do you think?

This is a discussion worth having. Marketing needs to be done for good reasons, not just ‘because we did it this way last time’ — let’s make the new economy a better place to be.

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Rachel S. Heslin July 2, 2014, 9:56 pm

    Yes! Especially the part about forcing people to join your list in order to get your freebie. I’m more than happy to invite people to sign up for my list, but it’s offered as an adjunct to the gift, not a prerequisite to receive it. I also give people the option of following me on various social media, and once I finish revamping my website, they can sign up by RSS as well. As far as I’m concerned, it’s all about making it easy for them to hear from, but I don’t want it to be an obligation on their part. To paraphrase Cheap Trick: I want them to want me! :D

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