October 25, 2010

Are you a giver or a hoarder?



Some speakers hold themselves back out of fear and self-limiting beliefs. They never get out there because they don't want to be judged, fear not being good enough, have unrealistic expectations and so forth.

And then there are the speakers who hold back out of stinginess. These speakers don't fear judgment, they fear the audience itself. They fear that that audience will take their material for free and never come back. So they hoard it and save it for the day when they can bestow it on a paying client.

I've written before about intentionally holding back so you don't overwhelm the audience and yes, you can whet their appetite for more. However, this doesn't mean you give a presentation or write an article that's devoid of content or value, just to entice someone to hire you. It just means you try not to bombard the audience with so much information that they can't possibly retain it all.

How many times have you gone to a free talk or teleseminar only to leave disappointed, when the speaker seemed more interested in promoting his paid products and services than giving any real value?

Read on for three miserly scenarios and ask yourself if you could be just a little more giving with your audiences and clients.

1. You hold back info because you don't want to "give it all away for free."

Let's just address this ridiculous scenario first: There's no way you can give it all away. If your knowledge base is so shallow and fragile that you fear giving it all away in one measly presentation or a few blog posts, then you need to seriously shore up your knowledge.

Here's a comment from Seth Godin, in response to someone asking why he so freely gives away ideas:

"My feeling is that the more often you create and share ideas, the better you get at it. The process of manipulating and ultimately spreading ideas improves both the quality and the quantity of what you create, at least it does for me."

Scott Ginsberg says,

"The more you give away for free, the wealthier you will be."

I don't think there's any question about Scott's and Seth's success, while they still continue to give free and useful advice on their blogs, as well as give away their published books for free.

You can't possibly give away everything you know. And remember, just because a person reads your e-books, hears your presentations and subscribes to your blog, it doesn't mean that the person now knows everything you know, or that the person even fully comprehends or is able to apply everything you've said or written.

That person has tools, but may not know how to implement them. That person may still need your hands-on approach. Don't ever make assumptions about how people are using your material!

2. You offer one "free taste," such as a newsletter, then get offended when people unsubscribe or don't subscribe in the first place.

Everyone learns differently, and not everyone benefits from receiving a newsletter. Maybe your subscriber goes to your blog and reads it every day; maybe she subscribes to 150 blogs in a reader and can only get to yours once every couple of weeks. Maybe she loves getting Twitter and Facebook snippets and links. Maybe she prefers watching a video or listening to audio as she works out or drives.

Everyone is different, and you have to spread your "free" around. The person who listens to audio while driving may not be the person who reads your blog. How can you reach as many people as possible with your ideas?

3. You believe that you can't possibly make money from giving away free stuff. So you just don't do it.

Here are some of the most successful entrepreneurs I follow, whose free offerings are not only frequent, but generous and full of valuable content. These women don't just toss out an occasional bone for their audiences to pick at. These women provide the kind of material -- for free -- that can legitimately help you build your business. But if you want more than just reading material and videos, you can also hire them!

~ Alicia Forest is an author and speaker, whose website, blog and newsletter are full of juicy relevant tips (like this article: "Strapped For Cash? 7 Ways to Have a Sale Today"). She gives away free audio, free handouts and a free teleseminar. Is Alicia financially successful? She makes six figures working part-time hours and takes her summers off to hang out at the lake with her family. Sounds good to me.

~ Mari Smith is another example of an extremely accommodating entrepreneur, a speaker and trainer who uses Facebook and Twitter not just to promote her paid programs, but to share bucketloads of free information on how to use social media to grow your business. She has been called "The Pied Piper of the Online World" by Fast Company and is one of the top experts on social media.

~ Joan Stewart is my third example today of a giver who is not afraid to put a lot of free information out there for the taking. Her weekly Publicity Hound newsletter offers tips for getting on TV and radio, being interviewed by the media, when, why and how to pitch your stories, how to improve your press releases, and more. But that's not all. Joan offers tons of free articles on her website, a value-packed blog and links to dozens of additional resources for products and services she doesn't provide.

These three entrepreneurs do not live in fear of giving all their information away for free. They don't save the "good stuff" only for their clients. They are each highly successful in their paid programs, but have attracted many of those clients because of their free options. They trust their audience to know when they need more than a handout or blog post, but don't try to hold back information that could be helpful while the prospect is still unsure of the need to hire someone.

Are you being generous or stingy with your information? Which do you think is a better strategy for attracting clients and giving your audiences true value?

FYI: You can find my "free stuff" by scrolling down this page.

P.S. A Twitter friend mentioned to me that Seth Godin uses similar descriptions (giver and hoarder) in his book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, that I haven't yet read. So, clearly, great minds think alike!

2 comments. Please add yours! :

Ravi Moosad said...

Thanks for the load of 'FREE' and useful information. I think giving away only makes you more popular. But for geographical/language reasons, I would have recommended you for training requirements in my company coz I am impressed by what you give away. Thanks again.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thank you, Ravi. :-)

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