Bridging the Gap with the Power of Free: Building Community with Authentic Offerings

marketing Aug 26, 2020

This is the second post in our blog series: Flip the Script on Your Marketing. We are keeping up on recent changes and we’re here to help you navigate and thrive in this new world.

Never has there been a more crucial time to think big and think community. But what’s the best way to do that in today’s context?

The Power of Free

COVID-19 has hit humanity hard. Many are suffering real financial hardship, and many more are in panic and protect mode, making the freebie even more valuable now. Offering something useful puts you way ahead in the recovery game. Can you offer a free class, webinar, or workbook?

People are looking to grow professionally and personally through free education, coaching, and self-care resources. Many are also working in new environments for the first time and they need help connecting. Microsoft has expanded their free version of Microsoft Teams, a business collaboration application, to help business keep working together. Inspired by this, my tech company Content Panda is  offering a free Quick Start for Microsoft Teams, giving users in-context help and training.

Kindness is contagious.

Free offerings that retain the value of your products and services

Your free offering should not just be a one-off. Your freebie should be part of a larger strategy about value. What content can you offer “free” and what should have a price? Taking a big picture view is important here and should be a part of your future growth plan for marketing. Your planning should strike a balance of what you give away and what continues to drive revenue.

Examples of what’s out there for free, just to get you percolating:

Coursera -  a worldwide online learning platform offering courses, certificate, and degree programs for individuals and businesses. Prices range from $49 individual courses to $10,000+ online degrees. Coursera has always offered freebies. Certain courses offer full access for free like The Science of Wellbeing and others allow you to audit the course with limited resource access for free.

In response to COVID-19, they have expanded their existing free offers and created the following to help institutions and communities in need:

Great Jones - a cookware retailer, selling pots and pans with the goal of getting people to cook more often.

Their free offer is Potline, a free texting service with real-person advice on techniques, recipe suggestions, and troubleshooting. Potline was originally launched in 2019, but with the surge in home cooking due to shelter in place and business restrictions, they’ve added more resources to the program to serve more people.

Support.com – technical support solutions for businesses and consumers.

With the rise of remote work and learning Support.com has made their remote tech support service, TechSolutions, free to anyone who needs it. The remote tech support is available via phone, chat, or video-based “virtual house” call to troubleshoot connectivity, software installation and updates, email configuration, data migration, security updates, and virus or malware removal on any device or operating systems.

So… what can you give?

Successful companies position themselves as the guide and their brand as something that makes consumers’ lives easier, especially now. Virtual offers reach a global marketplace and are very valuable, because at least for the foreseeable future, the internet is the only completely safe place to do business. 

Building tact and diplomacy into your message creates a lasting rapport within the context of your brand’s message. Consider your unique community and show how you reach beyond your competitors to serve them. Look at what you’ve done to thrive in captivity, then work towards creating a product that answers some of those same right-now-needs for your customers. Adding a free offering into your larger product and marketing strategy is the long-term thinking needed for your business to be innovative, build community, and ensure you continue to meet your own revenue needs to run and grow. 

While we’re all figuring out how to navigate this trying time, make it about service. Be the guide. Your customers will appreciate and remember how you handled your business, your employees, and them - in this crisis.

Need some help developing your marketing strategy? Let a maven be your guide.

Stay tuned for more in the next blog post. And keep washing those hands.

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