Why you must have a FREE lead magnet

Find out why you need to start giving away freebies if you want to attract customers, according to course creation expert Sarah Cordiner.

Before COVID-19 hit, I used to head down to the local craft markets every Saturday morning. I’d always grab a fresh mango smoothie, a coffee, browse the local craft, buy a crystal or two and pat dogs without asking the owners.

One particular morning, I noticed that a brand new fruit smoothie van had pulled up next to the smoothie van that had been there for 10 bajillion years. “Oooohhhhh dramaaaaaa” I thought, as I stuffed a pork dumpling into my mouth.

Competition like this, in such a tiny town, was bound to cause some kind of real-life soap opera “The Battle of The Mango Men”.

I watched to see what would happen.

The old guys had their stream of regular customers queuing around the Boab tree, whilst the new guys looked out nervously from their empty stand.

“They won’t last!” rasped the old bearded crystal-seller.

“You can’t just come into town as a new guy and think you can compete with us locals! Takes YEARS to get where we are – YEARS I tell you! He’s got NO chance!”. 

We sat in silence observing whilst he polished a lump of quartz.

And then, something spectacular happened… Suddenly, a small crowd started gathering around the new guys smoothie stand. Then, all the people in the queue for their old trusty mango smoothie dropped out and joined the new crowd too.

Crystal bloke and I couldn’t tell exactly what was going on at the stand because the crowd was too thick to see through, but there were plenty of people squeezing out of it with big juices and smoothies in their hands.

“I’m going in!” I said to crystal bloke. I just HAD to find out what he’d done to completely turn the tables like that.

Turns out that the new guy had instantaneously become the new favourite juice goose in town because he’d put little tiny shot glasses of FREE tasters up on his bench.

Those little shots of rainbow coloured goodness sparked the onlooker’s curiosity; gave people the opportunity to taste a new flavour, and an excuse to come over and take a look….. AND…. to buy stuff from HIM.

With that one little sip, people got to experience for themselves that his juices were amazing and it made them want more – without him even having to spruke a sales pitch. He went from zero to hero in a matter of minutes, simply by giving away a few little tasters for free.

The exact same is true in business too.

If you offer out little tasters of your most scrumptious offerings, it attracts your target customers, it allows them the opportunity to ‘sample’ you without risk on their part.  

It allows them to experience your style, your vibe, the quality of your wares and helps them decide that they want more.

If you do not have free content or a lead magnet of some kind out there – you are simply missing out on leads and customers.  

I grabbed a green smoothie and sat back down on the grass admiring the new guys success from afar. “Looks like I need a new crystal ball” mumbled the crystal man.

I fiercely attribute my own success to giving away free content. Every high paying customer I have ever had – in fact any paying customer I have ever had – first found me through my free stuff. Paradoxically, giving your stuff away for free, is exactly what will make you rich.

In this article, I share why it is so critical that you have a free lead magnet as part of your business strategy. 

11 reasons to give away your content

Here are 11 good reasons why you should give away your content:

  1. To attract your ideal customer 
  2. To build an email list 
  3. To establish credibility, familiarity and recognition from others; prove you’re an expert and establish your reputation
  4. To allow people to test you out / try before they buy
  5. To differentiate yourself from your competition 
  6. To get reviews, feedback and testimonials
  7. So that you have searchable content online that can come up in peoples search results – if people can’t find you, they can’t buy from you
  8. For social sharing and virality 
  9. To build your social media followers 
  10. Your free content can be repurposed into paid content/courses
  11. Your free content is the starting point for these leads to become paying customers

What free content can you create and share?

There is ENDLESS types of free content that you can create, but here are some that work extremely well for me:

  • Lead magnet course – a short mini-course of 3-5 top tips in your topic that upsells to your paid courses
  • Free starter kit in your area of expertise
  • Free challenge 
  • YouTube videos
  • Presenting for free on other people’s summits
  • Livestreams 
  • Blogs / Articles 
  • Podcasts 

The funnel of service

Giving your stuff away for free is one of the most powerful strategies there is in business.  But it must be done strategically.

It must be part of a planned customer journey that leads them to eventually buying something from you. I like to call this, ‘The Funnel of Service’.

Having any profitable business requires strategy and planning, but having a sustainably profitable business as an Edupreneur means strategising for business with our learners’ development at the core.

The traditional method of entrepreneurial business was to essentially go out ‘hunting’ for customers as if they were prey. 

The old fashioned hunters of business talk about ‘tripwires’ and ‘capturing’ leads and then feeding them through a funnel which in too many cases have been designed by marketers to force, guilt trip and trick people into handing over their money. 

But the Edupreneur sees the process of finding and building a commercially successful business as a very different one indeed. 

Edupreneurs see the funnel more as a journey of service and giving.

Yes, I said GIVING. 

That means giving away your content freely – it’s that whole ‘speculate to accumulate’ thing, and it seriously works. 

What is a funnel?

But first, what is a ‘funnel’? Essentially it is a process of stages that a prospect will be taken through, by design, by a business to convert them from a prospect, into a paying customer.

In this instance, I am not referring to the literal web-page funnel, where you walk your prospects through a series of ‘offers’ and ‘upsells’ (which is also a great success strategy).

In this instance, I’m referring to the longer-term journey that a student will go through as they move along your ‘content and nurture’ ecosystem over time.

A ‘funnel’ is a process of:

  • Finding prospects
  • Engaging prospects
  • Turning prospects into followers
  • Turning followers into paying customers
  • Making paying customers repeat paying customers
  • Making repeat paying customers raving referrers

Old vs new – the hunter and the edupreneur

Just to make it clear how powerful this method of ‘giving’ is to create a very successful business, and how self-cannibalising and destructive the traditional approaches to marketing are in comparison, here is a comparison of the two approaches side-by-side, using ‘fishing’ as the analogy for ease of understanding:

“Feed us, and we will grow.  We will keep coming back for more; and we will tell our friends to come and meet you too.”

Here are some thoughts after looking at this table:

  • Imagine you are the fish – which funnel would you rather be part of?
  • If you are the fisherman, which funnel would you rather be part of?

However, we have been dictated to by the hunter for so long, that this concept of giving freely terrifies most people. 

You see, the hunters method depletes its own supply, meaning that his fish are a limited resource, and therefore he knows that he will eventually run out. 

This means that the hunter lives in a world of scarcity, a battleground of ‘survival of the meanest’, a nasty back-stabbing existence where everyone is your enemy and giving means starving yourself to death. 

It’s no wonder they tell us ‘never give stuff away!’. 

And so we all watch, we all listen to the big fat marketing hunter and do as we are told. Eventually, we get tired of spending every hour of the day fishing, capturing, killing, maiming and stealing. We then give up and say ‘this fishing thing isn’t for me, I don’t really want fish anyway’. Then we close up shop and walk away, leaving dreams unfulfilled and a market uneducated. 

Or do we?

There is a better way, a much happier, sustainable way to build a successful business that helps everyone – the fisherman as much as the fish. 

I call it ‘The Edupreneur’s Funnel of Service’ – and like any good funnel, it starts with giving freely. 

Give your advice freely, answer questions, share videos, create livestreams, write blogs, talk for free at events, speak on podcasts, guest blog, give free courses away, write books and eBooks – the list is endless of ways that you can give, but so are the rewards for everybody when you do.

The first thing that people think when I suggest that they should do this is ‘but won’t that cannibalise my own business?  Surely Sarah, if I give all of my content away, then nobody will need to buy my stuff?

A very logical thought yes, but it’s completely wrong. Giving is receiving. Let’s look at an example that I’m sure most people could relate to – celebrity chefs.

“Give your advice freely. Answer questions, share videos, post livestreams, write blogs, talk for free at events, speak on podcasts, guest blog, give free courses away, write books and eBooks – the list is endless of ways that you can give – and so are the rewards for everybody when you do.”

The chef’s profitability principle

Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver, now they’re doing alright for themselves, aren’t they?! They’ve got TV shows, endless restaurants all around the world, books and a few dollars in their bank accounts. Nice.

They also have millions of adoring fans who watch and buy everything they release, even follow them around the world in the hope to meet them in person. Very nice.

Now how do you think that happened?

Every single one of us can go onto Google and find their recipes for free, containing the exact recipe for successfully producing each of their dishes. Yet millions of us still went out and paid $30 for their cookbooks.

All of us could go onto YouTube or switch on our televisions and watch them cook the exact same recipe in full demonstration – not an ingredient or instruction would be missed in showing you exactly how to produce that perfect dish.  

Yet millions of us still flock to their restaurants and pay hundreds of dollars for their chefs to just cook it for us.

Even if we lived next door to one of those restaurants and had free meals for life, I’m very sure that there would be millions of us who would still pay hundreds, or even thousands more, to have them come into our own kitchens to make a meal with us in person.

Despite these chefs giving away EVERYTHING for free – quite literally their secret recipes – they have still gone on to become insanely successful and extremely well-loved by millions.

In fact, the very reason why they have gone on to be successful is because they gave everything away freely. 

If they never shared their recipes freely on TV shows, do you think anyone would know who they are? Very unlikely.

If they never gave away their step by step knowledge in low priced cookbooks, do you think millions of people would have their recipes on their shelves? I’d say they wouldn’t even have cookbooks if they hadn’t given their content away freely in the first place.

It is quite literally the fact that they gave away their knowledge and expertise freely, that they could attract a base of fans, followers (and consequently buyers) that enabled them to keep adding higher priced offerings by demand of their adoring consumers.

And that’s what we as humans are – consumers. Feed us, and we will grow.  We will keep coming back for more; and we will tell our friends to come and meet you too.

Just like Jamie and Gordon have done, once you have truly established trust and a solid reputation as a consistent provider of FREE expertise in your topic over a period of time that exceeds at least 12months; then you will have a demand for more. 

Importantly, you will have now built such a level of trust, rapport and familiarity with your audience through the conversations your sharing has started, that you will now know precisely what they want, what they need and how they want those things served up.

This is when you can then add the commercialisation to your funnel and begin to offer them the equivalent of the cookbook, the meal out and the private cooking experience.

Remember that ‘The Edupreneurs Funnel of Service’ never empties if you keep sharing.

In my ‘Concept To Course’ 30 Day Course Creation Group Coaching Program, you will make your lead magnet mini course, and like many of my past participants, your paid online course too! Come and join me in the next group here.

Photo by Corinne Kutz