When to offer something for free for a service based business
There’s an art to doing ‘free’. It’s easy to get it wrong so here are some pointers for you.
If you’re just starting out then a free session, either in full or a taster of whatever you do can be a great way to get your foot in the door.
You can make some new contacts which can lead to:
- real paying clients
- testimonials – crucial for ‘social proof’
- understanding who your ideal client is
I recommend doing this for either/or
- a set period of time e.g. 6 weeks
- a set number of new clients e.g. first 12 clients
- a short, regular open surgery for taster sessions
Then, and this is the important bit, move to fee!
How to move from ‘free’ to fee
If you’ve made it clear that your free sessions are limited then moving to fee isn’t so hard. You just need to remind your client that the free session(s) has ended so you recommend their next step be to book a package of ‘x’ number of sessions, or to do a particular workshop or whatever is the next logical step in your marketing funnel.
If you offer taster sessions it’s a great introduction to what you do. If someone enjoyed their time with you and found it useful then why wouldn’t they want to book full length sessions with you?
The most common reasons why offering free can go wrong are:
- when you don’t value yourself or feel that you ‘deserve’ to get paid for what you do
- you don’t communicate the value you provide to your client
- you attract the wrong type of client
Not feeling you ‘deserve’ to get paid for what you do
Do you have a negative attitude towards money, and don’t like receiving ‘filthy lucre’ in exchange for the service you provide? You may feel passionate about what you do but have difficulty reconciling the belief that what you do should be ‘sold’.
Sometimes people have hobbies or passions that they want to pursue but have to make a living, and so find it hard to combine passion with cash. If this sounds like you then you really need to decide whether you want to earn a living from your passion or not.
If you do then you need to change these limiting beliefs. There is nothing wrong with providing value to others through the work you do and being compensated for that. If you don’t look after yourself then how can you look after others?
Communicating value to your client
Think about what you’re offering to your client in a free session. If you offer a service, chances are one session isn’t going to solve the problem the client needs help with.
Think about it – Is one session really what your new client needs or would they benefit from more?
To get real benefit you need to book several sessions don’t you? The benefits you receive from tax advice, coaching, massage, or most any service are cumulative over time. Therefore to truly be of value and service to your client you need to recommend they have more sessions with you so don’t forget to make that a part of your session.
If you’re good at what you do, far from being annoyed at being ‘sold to’ your client will be grateful that you are suggesting what would help them most.
When ‘free’ sessions attract people who are not your ideal client
If you attract people who are just there for a freebie, then take a look at how you present yourself and your business.
In big business marketing speak, “branding” is more than a logo, it’s the very DNA of who you are, and that will speak to certain people.
You need it to speak to your ideal client.
They will want to try you out and then continue with your services.
Do you know who your ideal client is? Do you understand who they are are, what matters to them and how to communicate with them?
If not then be grateful for everyone who shows up and see who you’re attracting.
Use this experience to hone in to who you want to work with and who you don’t. Find out what’s important to them and how you can best communicate with them. Far from being a problem, it can be the solution to getting clear on who your ideal client is.
Have you successfully moved from ‘free to fee’ or are struggling with it? Let me know in the comments and share your experiences and tips for making this transition.
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