The Social Economy: I’m Trying to Give It Away, What’s the Problem? (So Is Everyone Else)


wOOt! I got a referral yesterday!

It was for the boyfriend of my step-sister and had no relationship to my site or my offers. I will be the first to admit, “It’s tough to make a living in the free economy.

So what is going on these days in social media business? I know it is not just me having this problem. Everyone I talk to is hurting. Is it the economy? Is it the hype of social media and the overselling of the business value of Facebook? Is it because Facebook and Twitter accounts are free and “anyone” can do this stuff? Are my offers ambiguous or not compelling enough? I’m stumped. I’d like your help. If I could only get you to RESPOND TO ANYTHING. But the truth is, I can’t. It is a lurkers world out there, and we’ve all just got to deal with it. But let’s see if we can reveal some truths about the OFFER and what is FREE and what is NOT FREE.

Several months ago I wrote about how many of us forget to ask for the business: THE Biggest Mistake In Social Media Marketing: Not Asking for the Business As I outlined the process to go from passive to active business mining I figured my own advice would pay off. And it has, but not in the exact ways I had planned, or would need them to pay off if I were looking to make a living doing this kind of work.

My offers are simple.

The free consulting play. Give me a bit of information about your business and I will give you something for free. Something you can use to make positive changes in your business.

free consulting offer of a SWOT analytis

1. Free. 2. Limited time offer (better hurry, urgency) 3. SWOT report (maybe people don’t know what this is)


My free eBook play. In exchange for your email address I will give you this very fancy PowerPoint deck I keep revising to make it more helpful to you.

free offers for eBooks seem to be less than effective

1. free; 2. immediate download (get this information now); 3 example of page view; 4. easy opt-out if you don’t want to be on the list but still want the book.


And finally the actual “Work with Me” call to action. You can’t get more basic than this.

library of content and "work with me" button

1. free resource library of useful content; 2. call or click to work with me


The final ask: give me your email address so we can get in contact. The easiest form I can manage.

info request form GIVE ME YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS

1. free 30 minute consultation; 2. simple contact form; 3 only 2 required fields.


Is something about my information or presentation intimidating? When I offer 30 minutes free do you believe me? Is there something else I could give you for free? Would you rather pay for this information somewhere else?

How am I missing?

And perhaps the problem is this: Everybody is giving it away. The Hubspots and Chris Brogans of the world are fishing in the same waters as I am with much larger nets and more powerful offers. So how can I take it personal? What can I do to localize my offer that the big boys can’t do?

I have to show up. This is the bottom line. If I shake your hand and look into your eyes, you are about 10 times more likely to accept my free consulting offer. Why wouldn’t you, right? But on the web, I’m just a hawker with an offer that’s too good to be true, there must be a catch. And how could I produce as much killer content as Marketing Sherpa or Amercian Express OPEN? I can’t. BUT, they can’t show up at local events and say “hello.”

So that’s my social currency. It’s not in providing all this great info for free. It’s not offering a consulting analysis for your business for free. My value is in showing up in person, at an event, and actually being SOCIAL. While all this online stuff is good for networking, you actually have to be willing to network in person if you are going to gain anyone’s trust. In this Trust Economy the offers are easy and cheap and unbelievable. In the face-2-face economy you are only as truthful and real as your introduction and salesman-free manner.

Go. Do. Be. Social. All this online stuff is to get you THERE.

How we got here – the other two posts in this thread:

(1) THE Biggest Mistake In Social Media Marketing: Not Asking for the Business
Now I need to give that solution, or the framework for that solution, to you for free. Well, in exchange for your email address. You can opt-out if you like, but without contact, I’ll never know you were here other than that blip on Google Analytics. (Awareness of the problem)

(2) The Social Economy: I’m Trying to Give It Away, What’s the Problem? (Offering a solution)

(3) Monday Morning Consulting Offer: Cost = Nearly Free; Value = Priceless
I’d like to meet you and talk about your business and the whole spectrum of online marketing opportunities that could contribute to your success. (Taking the Offer Direct)

@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

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Most people don’t really enjoy being mean; they do it because they can’t help it. (from Graham’s Hierarchy of Disagreement)

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Nicely put, John. The “social” part is the one we keep missing the most. Maybe I’ll even run into you in Austin some time.

    1. Are you coming to SXSW? Yes, we’re having a Social Media Club meeting on Tuesday that I’m moderating about [infographics] 

      1. Infographic? Love the topic. No badge, though (2011 was rough).

  2. You’ve really touched a sore point here and created the ultimate paradox. If social media isn’t working to drive business our way and the way to be noticed is to be social in person, why should we invest in social media at all?
    Are the only people claiming to be successful at social media the ones who are selling information to promote social media as a powerful marketing tool, which turns out to be a concept that has been hyped up – like the Emperor’s New Clothes? I don’t know.
    I’ve finally got around to reading Robert Cialdini’s book ‘Influence – Science and Practice’ and the first of his ‘Weapons of Influence’ is Reciprocity – if I give you something you’ll feel obliged to give something back. This has been a common marketing strategy both online & offline for years. However, I wonder if the over-use of this strategy on the internet has eroded the feeling of obligation (which is at the heart of the reciprocity method). With the quantity of free information that’s available online, who needs to spend any money?

    1. Great point, Jan. Yes, the FREE economy is hard to compete in. The social helps to set up the opportunities for the face-2-face meeting which then results in business. Hopefully.

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