You’ve probably heard about the importance of providing value to potential customers before they purchase. By providing value first, you build trust and credibility that helps leads to eventually justify paying for your product or service.
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You see this all the time in different types of business:
- Software companies like Pipedrive will provide a free trial of their product so you can ‘try before you buy' to see if the tool is going to work for you.
- Similarly, entertainment services like Netflix provide a trial so you can enjoy some complimentary content before you sign up for a paid plan.
- Coaches and consultants (like me) share videos, blog posts or podcasts with free advice before you become a paying client and get full support.
- Retail stores give our free samples so you can test the product for yourself.
Free trials and samples are easy. But for coaches and consultants, it’s tricky working out how much free advice to give out without cannibalising your business. The fear is that if you give out too much advice, people won’t need to pay you for your service.
In my experience, the more you give out, the more you get back in return.
For example, I make videos for YouTube showing how to use various features in Asana and Pipedrive. So, how is it that I can also sell a paid online course as well?
Here’s how I differentiate the two:
The YouTube videos provide a lot of free advice on how to set up and use Asana. But I keep these videos on the shorter side (5-10 minutes) for a few reasons. Firstly, the YouTube audience generally has a shorter attention span. They’re usually browsing YouTube to get quick tips and quick answers to their questions e.g. ‘How do I set up a recurring task’. They’re not normally going to YouTube to find an online course. That’s not what the platform is designed for. The other reason I keep my YouTube videos on the shorter side is that I view these videos as the teaser trailer people can watch before they sit down to watch the feature film. They’re quick and easy to watch and are useful as standalone videos. But if you want to go into more detail, that’s what the course is for.
The videos in my online course are longer, more detailed and generally, I put my best advice in the course which I don’t share on YouTube. Another reason to pay for the course is that I’ve packaged it up with group and one-on-one consulting. Watching videos is a great way to self-educate, but a lot of clients like working with someone one-on-one so I can help them to apply the theory to their business. The course and the consulting go hand-in-hand to help the client learn on their own and get help when they’re ready.
Another big differentiator is the cost. I’ve purchased a number of online courses and I’ve learned that the best way for me to take action on something is to first make an investment. I’ve been given courses for free and have never looked at them. Because I wasn’t invested. But once I’ve made a financial commitment to pay for an online course, I’m much more likely to follow through with the course and implement the advice.
If you’re a coach or consultant and you’re worried about how much free advice to give away, I encourage you to use this framework. Use videos, blog posts or whatever medium you like to provide value for free. You can keep back your best tips but don’t be stingy either. This builds trust, credibility and helps you to stand out from the competition. People tell me all the time that they were researching a few experts but they ultimately decided to reach out to me as my content proved that I know what I’m talking about and can explain things clearly. And remember, even if you share similar advice as part of your paid offering, part of what clients are paying for is the interpretation. The application of the advice and the accountability to make sure the advice is followed.