The old small business sales model was very simple: If you wanted something, you had to pay for it and then you would get it. It makes perfect sense.
The new sales model, however, is completely the opposite. It starts with take it, you can have it for free and if you like it, then you can pay me for it.
That makes no sense to us as entrepreneurs, and yet we both recognize that the way of doing business is constantly changing.
You can resist and lose, or you can cooperate and flourish. The more you fixate on the past, you more you won’t face the future and will suffer the consequences when it comes to your business. No matter how much you fight and kick and scream, in the end, you’re going to have to give the new sales model a chance: Give your product or service away and then let people pay for it if they like it. Times are changing, and so, too, are successful small business practices. What can you give away for free and still benefit if people pay for it or not? Who can you collaborate with to provide a product or service for free?
If you’d like more information, statistics and advice on this new notion of business, check out a great book called “Free” by Chris Anderson; the book will help you recognize and realize the benefits for giving away your products and services for free.
One of the reasons this has happened is that information is no longer valued the way it used to be.
The information age is dead – it gave up the ghost around the year 2010, although it started fading around 2000. Why do people no longer value information the way they used to? Take a look at a great example: 30 years ago, if you wanted to get a cassette tape program on how to set goals, you would have to spend at least $795 for that very program, but now all of that information is readily available online for free, so there is truly no need to pay for a cassette tape or a CD or a download on how to set goals (unless you really, really want to).
If you look at today’s youth, they don’t have a notion about limited resources like most of us did 20, 30 or 50 years ago. They have a completely different mindset and recognize that they can get much of what they want for free online. They probably don’t even know what a cassette tape is!
If you wanted to learn to play the guitar 30 years ago, the scenario might go something like this:
- You would first go to your parents and tell them you wanted to learn how to play the guitar.
- They would probably say “no” or at least ask many questions. Then they might still say “no.”
- After six months of badgering and proving how interested you were to your parents, they might relent, buying you the cheapest guitar available on the market.
- They would find you a guitar instructor and then have to take you to that person’s house, sit around and wait for an hour while the instructor taught you chord progressions and then you would go home. You probably wouldn’t practice much until the next week – about an hour before your lesson.
- And the cycle would repeat: For guitar lessons or just about anything else.
In this scenario, your skill level at playing guitar would be solely dependent upon your parents’ level of generosity and taking you to this music instructor’s home each week (plus your willingness to practice).
Today? If a kid wants to learn how to play a guitar, all they have to do is go to YouTube, type in what song they want to learn how to play, and there is an entire instruction and tutorial where they can look at the guitar and watch the person on the screen moving their fingers in just the way that they need to move them. With this method, anyone can learn the songs they want to play at no charge and in a short period of time.
Kids today do not value information the way they did a generation ago because it’s free to them. This is creating a culture throughout our entire society where people are no longer willing to pay for information.
What are they willing to pay for?
- Experience and implementation
- Good service
- Something that they can’t get anywhere else
If you sell information, your business has become a commodity. Within any market, the moment that your product or service has become a commodity, there is only one determining factor – price. Consumers will almost always go with the cheapest option.
If you are reading this book, however, you likely don’t want to be selling your product for the cheapest possible price. You want to find a way that you can charge a premium price.
How is that possible? You have to accept this new way of doing business, which is to provide some free information, so much so that your target audience really likes it and then will be willing to pay for it.
By this point, most business owners will have already asked themselves, “How can this happen?” The smarter question is WHEN will this happen?
The zero moment of truth
It happens at the ZMOT.
Jim Lecinski, the Managing Director of U.S. Sales & Service for Google, has written an amazing book on this subject, and yes…it’s free! You can find it here: http://www.zeromomentoftruth.com/.
ZMOT stands for Zero Moment of Truth.
Lecinski and the team and Google have determined that you have to provide your prospective customer with as much free information as you can possibly deliver before they will feel comfortable paying you. According to Daniel Priestly, the author of “The Entrepreneur Revolution,” you must provide approximately seven hours of quality content before trying to request a financial transaction.
This notion leads into a whole new type of commerce – one called “products for prospects” – when you no longer sell your product for cash, you simply sell your product for a prospect. You win your audience’s trust, you earn their respect and then after seven hours of providing them free content, they are willing to pay you in return.
If you resist this notion, you will struggle in the new economy.
If you accept it, you will get creative and start asking yourself, “How can I provide seven hours of awesome content for my prospects so before they walk into my door they already have the predisposition of wanting to buy from me?”
- If you are an attorney, how can you create seven hours of great legal information that is still approved through compliance and legal for you to provide for free?
- If you are a dentist, how can you provide somebody with seven hours of great advice and great information before they have to get their teeth cleaned?
- If you are a financial advisor, how can you offer seven hours of great financial advice that will keep potential clients coming back for more?
- If you are a life coach, how can you offer seven hours of free inspiration that will entice prospective clients?
- If you own a small garage, how can you provide someone seven hours of great content so they know you, like you and trust you and will come back as a paying customer?
One of the ways to do that – and there are hundreds out there, if not thousands – is via YouTube. YouTube is a great way for you to become your own television producer, director and star.
Provided you have taken the time to learn how to speak effectively on camera, you should be able to create seven hours of great informational content that people can locate online and get the exposure they need to your product or service for a very low cost. You can also provide that same content in a book. You can provide that content in a download. It’s all about how you can flood your prospective customer with so much information that they feel that you are THE expert.
Money for nothing?
The biggest concern small business owners have when thinking about giving away seven hours of free content and information is, “How can I provide seven hours of content, but not give them the real content that they need to purchase to get the real thing?”
You want to give potential customers your best content up front.
Why? Simply because it’s just information; a bunch of ideas. It will be worth your while. Giving your second or third best information for free will give the illusion that your products or services are only that good.
Here’s a great example of how we do not value information, but how we do value great service:
You can go down to any bookstore or visit Amazon.com and you can pay $30 to get a recipe book from Jamie Oliver that has all of his greatest recipes that made him famous. OR you can go to a restaurant and pay somebody who is a Jamie Oliver certified chef and you will pay far more for only one of those meals provided inside the recipe book.
The same goes with Wolfgang Puck and Gordon Ramsey. We can buy all of their information at an inexpensive price, but yet we will still pay hundreds of dollars to have that person cook for us just once.
How can you become the Jamie Oliver, the Gordon Ramsey or the Wolfgang Puck of your business? You can become your own celebrity.