When (and When NOT) to Charge for Your Info Products
Copyright (c) 2009 Judy Murdoch
Highly Contagious Marketing
One of my clients recently asked me whether she should charge for
a series of tip sheets she created for families traveling with
young children. Great question.
There's quite a bit of confusion around whether you should sell
or give away your information products. About half the advice I
hear favors giving information away for free. The other half
The truth is, sometimes you should give information and resources
away and sometimes you should sell them. The real question is
WHEN to charge and when not to.
In this article, I'll give you some guidelines around when to
charge and when to give information away.
Start with What Your Business Needs Now
Asking where your business is at and what you need to be
successful is a great place to begin.
Every business needs customers, right? So let's look at how
strangers become customers. They go through three stages:
~ Stage One: Visibility (V)
To become a customer a person first needs to know your product
exists. You become visible by getting your product and marketing
message in front of people who fit your ideal customer
~ Stage Two: Credibility (C)
Knowing that your product exists is usually not enough to get
someone to pay cold hard cash for it. Nope, they're thinking
"well, that sounds good but how do I know it will really work?"
During the Credibility stage you need to give them information
that demonstrates your product will deliver as promised.
~ Stage Three: Profitability (P)
Once your prospect is convinced that your product will, indeed,
deliver the promised value, they will pay you and become a
V to C to P = Marketing Funnel
Picture a funnel with lots of people coming in the widest part
(visibility), a percentage sticking around to learn more
(credibility), and a percentage of those who stick around
becoming customers (profitability).
At any given time in the life of your business, there are people
at different stages of becoming customers. Some are learning
about you for the first time, some are checking you out to decide
whether they will buy, and some are deciding to buy and paying
Ideally, you have a steady stream of people constantly entering
and moving through the funnel. If they don't enter or don't
continue through, you have a problem and it shows up in your
bottom line: You don't have enough paying customers.
When to Give Away and When to Charge
To decide whether or not to charge for an information product, I
suggest you take a look at how many people are at each of the
Your goal is to use information products as an incentive for
prospects and customers to take the next step.
~ When You Need More Visibility
If you're just starting your business or you want to enter a new
market, you probably need more visibility. You need people to
know your product exists.
When visibility is your goal, I recommend you give something away
that provides value and introduces people to your product or
Why? The goal for visibility is to answer the following
1. What is it ("it" being your product or service)
2. Does it help someone like me?
You want to give something away that will answer these questions
while asking for something minimal from the prospect.
A common example is offering a free Ezine subscription or a free
report your prospects can download in exchange for their E-mail
address or phone number.
~ When You Need More Credibility
Credibility is an issue when you're getting a lot of first time
visitors and inquiries but not enough are coming back.
For most products and services, people need repeated
demonstrations of what you can do for them. They need to trust
When you are building credibility, I suggest you have two
information products: one that is free and one that you sell.
1. A free product that allows you to build a relationship with
your prospects. Products like Ezines are great because you get a
chance to connect with customers once a month or more.
2. Product you charge for which offers a higher level of customer
Ideally, this is a "no brainer" purchase. Something for which
the value is so obvious for what you're charging that most
people don't need to think too long or hard about whether to
Although you will be making some money, the real purpose is to
demonstrate credibility and build trust.
Warning: The biggest complaint I hear is when someone offers a
free report or one-hour teleclass that turns out to be little
more than a sales pitch.
Again, you are creating value and building trust. Doing both will
enable you to convert more prospects to paying customers when the
opportunity presents itself.
A sneaky sales pitch will undermine the trust you are trying to
~ If You Need More Profitability
If you have a large, loyal base of readers, subscribers, or
members who have been hanging out with you for several months and
like what they're getting, some of them will want to invest some
serious time and money for your focused time and attention.
For example, a consultant I know sends out a free monthly Ezine
to her mailing list and sells low cost Tip Sheets, Checklists,
and so on.
Each month 3-5 of her subscribers contact her to learn more about
her workshops and seminars costing $500+. She usually books 6 to
8 engagements this way each year.
She explained it to me like this, "I try to provide something
useful that my readers can apply right away. For example, I sell
a $5.00 meeting organizer they can use to have more productive
meetings. Sometimes this is all they need."
"But sometimes they're in a situation that goes way beyond the
DIY stage. They need someone from outside the company to step in
and help them set up a new system or to help them hire a new
Allowing your prospects to upgrade (or escalate) and get a higher
level of support is not only profitable, it's how you can really
serve your clients.
Whether or not to charge for your information products depends on
what your business needs in terms of developing customer
The less known you are to people fitting your ideal customer
profile, the more important it is to offer free or low cost
information products which provide something of value.
As you build trust and as your prospects learn how you can help
them, you can offer more expensive, higher commitment products
for those who want (and can afford) them.
Judy Murdoch helps small business owners create low-cost,
effective marketing campaigns using word-of-mouth referrals,
guerrilla marketing activities, and selected strategic alliances.
To download a free copy of the workbook, "Where Does it Hurt?
Marketing Solutions to the problems that Drive Your Customers
Crazy!" go to http://www.judymurdoch.com/workbook.htm
You can contact Judy at 303-475-2015 or judy@...
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