As a digital marketing strategist, I see many consultants and marketing experts preaching the ‘free events’ approach. This basically involves you holding a free webinar or event in order to get ‘bums on seats’ then you sell or pitch your product offering to them in the hope of signing them up as a client. The idea is one of adding value up front (which I totally get and do) than selling to them (which doesn’t sit well with me).
To me, this quantity v’s quality argument is totally wrong.
I have come to the conclusion through experience of running my own events and webinars and also attending many others. This is why I don’t agree with free:
- When they are free that are not valued
We all know that when you get something for free, you don’t value it is as much. When you pay for something with your hard-earned cash, that is a different story. It’s like anything of value – if you don’t pay for it, you just don’t value it as much. This is human nature guys! I learned this growing up. I whined and complained to my Dad when he wouldn’t buy me my first car. But I can honestly say, I appreciated it so much more when I saved up and paid for it myself. It then had some sort of value to it.
- It takes a quantity V’s quality approach
We are all busy and don’t have time to waste on the wrong prospects. Why invite a heap of the wrong people to your event or webinar – the ones you don’t want to work with or that aren’t a right fit for your brand? Yes, you might get bums on seats but if they aren’t the right fit and they do buy, I can tell it likely won’t end well.
I am a big believer that quality beats quantity every single time. I would rather 20 highly qualified and ideal clients sitting in front of me than a room of 300 who aren’t. The chance of you winning more business with quality is much higher.
- There is no accountability
Just like not valuing something, when you don’t invest in something you don’t have accountability as there is no risk since you haven’t outlaid anything for it. I have lost track of the number of times I have been to free events, gotten free workshops or webinars and then failed to action anything I have heard from them. There was no accountability – didn’t matter if I didn’t action what I learned. However, when I invest in training or a course, I make a conscious effort to execute as I have invested in the process, the learning and the potential outcomes. There is a big difference!
- It makes it too easy to cancel or not show up
When you haven’t purchased a ticket to an event it is easy to just not show up. You have nothing invested so you have absolutely nothing to lose. We have all been guilty of not showing up because it doesn’t cost me anything. And I as someone who has organised many events, it is so frustrating and rude when people just don’t show. At least show some courtesy and email someone in advance as to why you aren’t going to show up. (it’s called manners)
- People expect you are going to pitch or sell to them
Your audience isn’t stupid. Most people are pretty savvy to the fact that if the event is free, they are likely to be sold to in some way. Usually, they are just sitting there waiting for the big sales pitch. When you go to an event that is free, there is a reason – they want to sell you something. Businesses don’t just run events, especially if they are full day events in big conference centres, if there wasn’t some sort of payday for them? They are running a business to make money not out of the goodness of their heart.
I no longer attend free events as I feel like I am just waiting around for the sales pitch which always comes in some form or another. I would rather invest in learning without feeling pressure to buy more. There is a trade-off here and for me, I’d much rather pay to learn a new skill not go for free and be pitched too.
- Value your expertise and your time
I have worked for 20 years in the marketing and digital world and learned a LOT. I continue to educate myself and learn new skills every day so I can help my clients grow their business. This should be valued by other people. It would take someone many years of learning to know what I do. You need to put a price tag on your knowledge. You don’t expect your doctor or lawyer or accountant to work for you for free so why do you expect it from other experts, I don’t understand that?
So whilst some people might find success with the ‘free’ strategy, I believe you need to value what you do so others value it too. Your goal is to transfer knowledge. If I can teach you something you don’t know, that you can implement in your business to have a positive impact, that is valuable right? Why wouldn’t you be happy to pay for that?