I Is For (Free) Information
This week, I wanted to address a question that I get asked by many small businesses. How much information is appropriate to give away for free?
Most of us get asked to give away a fair amount of information – from information that we choose to provide (like this article) to people contacting us and asking us to answer questions for them to people blatantly meeting us and picking our brains.
So, what’s ok to give away for free and what’s not?
Well, the answer is that it’s very much up to you and your business. What’s ok to give away in my business isn’t necessarily right for your business and vice versa.
I have tried both extremes – giving away lots of free information and then not giving anything away at all. What I can tell you is that not giving anything away at all definitely doesn’t work for me and neither does giving away too much.
What’s important for me is that I create boundaries which I’m happy with, but if people go beyond these, then I will crack down on them pretty hard.
My boundaries are that I will write articles and make these available on my website and on other resources; I will happily produce a free newsletter for people and then I will create free resources for people to download off of my site. I will also answer questions for people as long as they don’t take me very long and provide free consultations.
But, these ‘free’ things do provide me with a benefit – articles get people visiting the site and hopefully downloading free information; newsletters result in people booking onto the workshops and so on.
That’s quite enough for me – thank you very much. Anything else I do expect people to pay for and I think that’s fair enough.
However, I do not like people abusing these boundaries. I’ve had a couple of people recently asking me more than their fair share of questions and I’ve quickly stopped this by saying that this is their last free question and if they want any more it will be charged at £x per question. Strangely enough, they haven’t been back since.
I also now refuse to meet people on a face to face basis unless we’ve firstly had a chat on the phone to determine whether there is any benefit to us meeting each other. I’ve wasted many, many hours finding out there is no benefit at all.
As long as you put in place boundaries for yourself where you know what’s ok to give away for free and what’s not…and…you have a clear strategy where your free information leads to ultimately getting business, you should be fine.
But if you feel that your free information is being abused or that you’re being asked to provide more than your fair share, crack down on this instantly and put in place some rules so that your time doesn’t get abused.