There is a 100% super-charged, surefire way to maximize conversions and route a steady stream of potential customers toward your business.
Give away everything for free.
And I mean… EVERYTHING. Charge for absolutely nothing.
Of course, you’ll need some advertising funds, so hit up a bunch of investors who will hand you their cash in anticipation that you might turn a profit one day.
Then, after many years of market domination and an unbroken string of year-end losses, your business can finally fold leaving you broke and your investors free to hunt for the next unicorn.
But, hang on!
What if you just don’t want to build Twitter?
Joking aside, building a large audience through free services first and then monetizing later is not a terrible business model. Twitter may be struggling to make it work, but Facebook has done pretty well.
Same goes for Google.
But for most people, the capital and the scale of management required for this style of dot-com business is unappealing and, frankly, beyond their abilities.
What if there was a way to mimic this business model without requiring a huge injection of cash, and without having to wait years before turning a profit?
In a previous article we talked about how selling your product or service creates risk in the minds of your prospects, and that lowering that risk is essential if you want any sort of conversion rate; even a modest one.
You can sidestep that problem altogether by offering your prospects something valuable for free. When you do that, the risk factor drops almost to zero.
The only question is how we then turn those prospects into paying customers in a matter of weeks, rather than years.
And the answer is a concept called “The Ladder of Intimacy”.
Yes, I know that sounds a bit like a bawdy scene from “Confessions of a Window Cleaner”, but that’s only because the Internet has broken us.
One and Done is Done
If you’re thinking the idea of giving away something in exchange for an email address is a rather obvious, even old-fashioned, solution, you’re probably correct. Lead capture is hardly a ground-breaking notion.
Yet few businesses really embrace this model.
Many may dabble, offering a freebie somewhere on their website, but it’s usually an afterthought; something tacked on to try and draw in a few extra prospects on the side.
And those that do make a concerted effort with this model run into two issues:
- Conversion rates on the free offer are still low.
- Monetizing a list made up predominantly of freebie-seekers is tough.
That’s why most businesses STILL operate largely on a “One and Done” model.
And I say “STILL” with a capital S-T-I-L-L because it’s one of the few online marketing strategies in existence that we can dogmatically say DOES NOT WORK!
If you’ve not come across this phrase before, “One and Done” is a business model where prospects are shown an offer and they either buy or leave. The vendor gets ONE chance to make a sale. If they fail, the person leaves, probably never to return.
If you tweak and split-test your copy to death, “One and Done” might get you a 1% conversion. And so ubiquitous is this style of online selling that 1% conversions have become acceptable. It’s factored into the cost of marketing.
But where others see 1% success, I see 99% failure.
Some might say that makes me a “glass half empty” individual. But you know what? Glass half empty would be amazing compared to a glass that is only flippin’ 1% full.
There’s nothing wrong with having a website where your main page is your sales page, but your marketing efforts should never be built around sending prospects to that page and hoping to, someday, push your conversions up to the dizzy heights of 1.1%.
Even if you’re a major baller and getting conversions of 2%, or even 3%, you’re still losing the vast majority of your prospects into the Blue Nowhere.
The Ladder of Intimacy
Hmmmm…. maybe it does need a better name. But, creepy nomenclature aside, you’ll soon understand why it’s such a great metaphor.
The “Ladder of Intimacy” is the solution to turning freebie seekers into customers in a period of time that allows you to turn a profit in the short-term AND the long-term.
But, first things first…
We said there were two obstacles to making the free gift model successful:
- Conversions on the free offer are still low.
The first of these problems is resolved by making sure that what you’re giving away has a high value. And I mean a HIGH value. In caps. Yell it.
If it isn’t something you could realistically sell for at least $20-30 then you’re being too stingy. Find something or create something that has a high perceived value, and then pitch it to your prospects as if you’re trying to sell it to them.
If you position this correctly, your prospect should be excited by what you’re offering and wondering whether they’re going to be able to afford it.
Once they see that they can get it in exchange for just their email address, it becomes an easy, risk-free decision to sign up.
This is how you get 50-70% conversion rates on your free offer.
- Monetizing a list made up predominantly of freebie-seekers is tough.
So, how do you then turn your acquired lead into a paying customer?
NOT by immediately making an offer.
Remember the old adage that a prospect needs to be exposed to your brand 7-10 times before they make a purchase? Some of that is because it takes time for what you’re offering to sink into the minds of the people looking at it, but the rest of it is because it takes time to earn the trust and respect of your audience.
Instead of following up your free gift with a demand for money. Follow up with another freebie a few days later. And then another one.
Then, and only then, should you invite them to buy something.
The golden ratio, in my experience is 3:1.
Every sales pitch you make, whether it’s for your product or an affiliate product, should be preceded by three contacts in which you give away something worthwhile.
This is the Ladder of Intimacy…
Imagine asking your prospect to climb an A-frame ladder with rungs on either side. Climbing a ladder is risky so you take the first step up by offering a valuable free gift. Your prospect responds by giving you their email address and taking their own first step.
You’ve each taken a step up in your relationship but you’re still, physically, a bit apart.
So, you take another step up by giving your prospect another gift.
This time, there’s not even the risk of giving their email address, so it’s easy for them to take another step up, bringing them closer to you.
By the time you come to asking them to purchase something, you’re both a few steps off the ground and you’re becoming ever closer as you move up the ladder.
In fact, now you’re so close that you can reach out and grab each other and, if required, offer some additional support.
At the top of the ladder, you’re going to offer a substantial product or service to your customer that could run to thousands of dollars. But by this point you’ll have moved up that ladder together. You’ll have been giving your customer great free gifts and support, and your customer has been making some purchases.
THIS is how you remove risk from your sales funnel AND turn leads into customers.
This process doesn’t just attract prospects through the offer of a free gift, it gives you the time to show that you’re worthy of their trust and respect.
And here’s the cool part…
Getting to that rung in the ladder where you can invite your prospect to make a small purchase, can be accomplished in just a couple of weeks.
It doesn’t have to take months or years.
And if you’re smart at keeping your lead generation inexpensive, that first purchase you ask for can be your break-even point, or even a small profit.
Setting up a business online carries some risk, no matter what. But it’s up to you as a business owner to take on that risk.
If you really want to show your smarts as a busines person you can take on virtually all the risk by starting your customer relationship with a valuable giveaway, and taking the time to demonstrate that you’re worthy of people’s trust.
But what kind of product or service can you give away that will make the kind of impact you need? We’ll talk about that in the coming weeks!
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