Report Power

The Power of the Free Report Part 1: Why?

by: | August 15, 2011

Have you heard the expression “Give and ye shall receive?” Well, that phrase is directly rooted in the The Rule of Reciprocity. The rule basically states that we are all driven to repay debts. For example, have you ever invited someone to a party, not because you like them, but because they invited you to their party before? If the answer is yes, then you’ve experienced The Rule of Reciprocity.

Reciprocity is a powerful force in our personal lives, and it can be powerful in your marketing. Give your customers and visitors valuable information, and they’ll be more likely to buy from you in the future. Free reports are one of best ways to give value and play into the Rule of Reciprocity.

So what is this free report thing?

A free report is a downloadable document that you provide to your visitors in exchange for their name and email. That last part, collecting your visitor’s information, is the key part to the free report. The information is key, because you can continue marketing to them through channels like email marketing. Remember, not every customer buys on the first exposure. If your report is about a topic that interests your visitors and entices them with enough value, they will gladly give you their contact information in exchange.

“Won’t the people that download the free report not need my company then?” The thought is if you give away all your secrets, your customer doesn’t need you anymore. However, the thing is, even if your customers know how to do something, most probably they don’t want to do it themselves. Most people know how to clean their houses but there’s still a thriving house-cleaning industry.

The other side to this question is the notion of expertise. If you’re an attorney, could you teach your visitor how to defend themselves in court with a free report? Probably not. But, by reading a free report, your customers start to see you as an expert who’s worthy of their trust. This is one of the most powerful components to a free report.

Ok, so what do I write about?

In short: something interesting about your industry. If your report sounds boring or the topic is uninteresting, your visitor is unlikely to download it. For a lawyer, writing a report on the finer points of being a juror probably isn’t going to get many downloads. Make the title so enticing that your visitors will feel like they’re missing out on important information if they don’t download it.

It’s also incredibly important to make sure it’s relevant to your customer and your industry. Writing on your daily life as a mechanic isn’t going to garner many downloads, for example. Make sure the title is specific and describes something your customers would want to read.

Here are some ideas for topics for sample businesses. Swipe these and change them around for your own business.

  • Law Firm –  ”13 questions to ask before giving a dime to your lawyer”
  • Tree Trimming – “How to Stop Your Trees from Destroying Your House During the Worst Hurricanes Florida Can Throw At Them.”
  • Classic Car Mechanic – “The Top 5 Engine Updates to Give Your Classic Car More Horsepower.”
  • House Painting – “Discover How To Winterize Your Home to Withstand The Maine Winter.”
  • Landscaping – “Warning! Read this Free Report Before Planting These 5 Dog-Killing Plants!”

How do you plan on using free reports in your business? If you already use them, what experience have you had with them? Stay tuned for Part 2 on how to write and use a successful free report.Marketing Zeus

Posted in: B2C, Banner/Display, Branding, Campaign Development, Content, Direct Response, E-Commerce, Lead Generation

About the Writer:

Born in England and raised in the U.S., Charles Forster is the marketing director and partner at Vine & Grain, a company that creates management technologies for bars and restaurants. Prior to that position, he ran a graphic design company, Call Me Chaz, in Philadelphia, PA and Orlando, FL. He focused on branding, websites, print, video and marketing for small business clients up and down the east coast. He's a self-prescribed car nut and foodie. He's also the curator for This Is Visceral, a site devoted to poster art.

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