For years I ran a tiny ad in the back of Target Marketing magazine, a publication for which I write a column, for my copywriting services.
The offer was a free audio CD with a long radio interview I did on copywriting tips and tactics.
The problem was that a lot of people who were not qualified prospects for my services would call and demand the free CD.
This wasted the time and money it cost to fulfill these requests for my free CD.
Worse, I resented these freeloaders big-time. It annoyed the bejeezus out of me, truth be told.
These moochers knew I offered the free CD to get copywriting clients.
They knew they were NOT potential clients and yet they were telling me to send the CD because, after all, I had advertised it.
Recently I changed the offer from a physical audio CD to a downloadable PDF e-book, so as to eliminate the expense of fulfilling the requests.
But I had the same problem: non-prospects who had no intention of buying my paid services mooching free stuff off me.
This problem is not unique to me, by the way.
It is a universal flaw in the content marketing model, namely, when you offer valuable free content as a bribe to get response, you generate a lot of response from people who want the content only but have no interest in your product or service.
Here is my easy solution for stopping these “content moochers” cold.
I humbly recommend it to you too if you, like me, don’t want to waste time and effort giving away valuable free stuff to people who are not potential customers and never will be.
To get my free e-book, you have to type into your browser the URL of a landing page where the book can be downloaded.
The landing page copy used to say “fill in this form to get your free e-book” which to me says anyone and everyone can get it.
But a few months ago I changed the landing page copy to say “fill in this form to see if you qualify to get this free e-book”.
This clearly communicates that not everyone is entitled to it.
You have to qualify. And who decides whether you qualify? I do, based on how you fill in the order form.
Importantly, I believe the copy as worded frees me from the obligation to send the e-book to anyone I don’t want to. And I don’t. It’s my call at my discretion.
It’s a small thing, but I came to resent the freeloaders who wanted an e-book that regularly sells for $49 for free.
So I don’t send it to just anyone any more. It’s only for prospects I might consider taking on as clients—a very small subset of the universe.
If you are using landing pages to give away free content, and you want to separate qualified leads from freebie seekers, here are a few tips:
1) As stated, change “to get” to “to see if you qualify”, clearly indicating that whether they get the freebie is your call, not theirs.
2) Also have a separate check box they can use to request more information on your product or service. If they only check the box for the free content and not for more information on what you sell, they are most likely a bad lead and you can act accordingly. Exceptions? Of course.
3) Require them to give you their website. By clicking on it you can instantly see whether they are a real prospect and a good fit for your services.
4) If they disrespect you by filling in fields on the form with nonsense, e.g. one recent prospect typed in “X” in response to my request for his company name; another told me his e-mail address was “bebebebe”, don’t respond or send them a thing.
5) Make phone number and e-mail addresses required fields. If the information they fill in is fake, again they are not a good lead.
6) I make it optional for them to give me their job title, but no title is a good indication that they are not a good lead.
Then there’s the issue of whether offering great content axiomatically results in poor leads because it generates inquiries from people who just want the free stuff and not your product or service. Let’s take that up in my next essay…
Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.