[Note: This article is part 1a of 4 in the series “4 Principles I Never Break As A Practitioner”. In this series I am discussing four of the fundamental principles I never break in running my business. A new article will be added to the site every two or three weeks. You can read the full series and you can check out all the free practitioner resources.]
photo by Patrick Haney
Giving stuff away for free can be a tricky thing to do as a practitioner. On one hand it feels like a good idea because we are exposing potential clients to our products and services. On the other hand we can worry that if we give too much away potential clients are only going to take the free things and never buy.
Giving products and services away for free is a very key part of my business and marketing plan, but it needs to be more than “give it away and hope.” Every time we are giving something away for free (products, services, or our time) we need to be doing for a very specific reason. We need to be giving away for free with a plan.
There are a number of reasons to give things away. Every time I give something away for free it meets at least one of the following reasons. In many cases it meets more.
1) Because It Is A Good Thing To Do
I don’t want to reduce giving away good and services to a simple transaction. We are going to talk about a number of things that we get back from free, but there are times when giving is a good thing to do because it is a good thing to do.
There are a number of places that I use my gifts and talents for people I love, people who can’t afford my stuff, and places that have a soft spot in my heart. There is some much good that comes out of doing something simply as an act of love.
BUT, and this is a big but, it is very important that you keep this part of your life and your practice in balance. There are only so many hours in the day and there is only so much energy that you have to share with others. If you are not taking care of your own well-being by doing too much work you are going to be no good to anyone. If you are not getting paid for what you do then you are going to need to find another job.
This is a major pit fall for many people in the care-taking fields. We see the suffering of others and know that we can help. How can we possibly say “no”? It is great to help others, but not at the risk of hurting ourselves.
One of the ways I deal with this balance is I have decided there are a certain number of hours of my time I give away. This does two things. First, it challenges me to reach out to others when it is very easy to get lost in my own stuff. Second, it helps me keep balance and not give too much of my time to the detriment to the rest of my life.
2) To Get Experience
The art of delivery is a skill. Just because you know the Emotional Freedom Techniques(EFT)/tapping points and a few techniques it does not mean that you are equipped to run a full time practice. We need practice at our skills. I hope I am much better helping clients than I was a few years ago.
It is a great idea when you are getting ready to starting a practice to decide that over the course of two months you are going to do 20 free sessions as a way of improving your skills. It is important to be up front with your clients that you are newer to the skill set, but this won’t deter people. Lots of people are willing to go to barber schools, dental schools, and massage schools for free and discounted work.
As a side note: I also believe that it is really important that you are getting supervision from an experienced practitioner while you are doing this sort of work. It is one thing to spend time with clients, it is something much more to be able to talk through your sessions to see what you could do better in the future.
After each session you are doing to improve your skills I would take a few minutes to review the session. What are the things you did well? What are the things you could improve in the future? You don’t get better by accident. You need to plan for your success.
3) To Help Determine If It Is A Good Match
Lots of practitioners will give a free 20min consultation. It is nice to know that if you found a practitioner on-line that you can chat with them to see if your personalities and approaches are going to match, but this is a two way street. This is also an opportunity to see if they are the right clients for you.
I know that if you are just starting out that it is hard to believe that you would ever turn business away, but it is true. There are lots of clients who would be willing to pay you money but are more of a headache than they are worth. Personally, I only want to be working with clients who want to get better. I have encountered clients who are just looking for someone to reaffirm the fact that they are wounded and have no desire to heal. I don’t have the time or energy for this in my practice. This will come with experience, but you will start to understand what clients are going to be more trouble than they are worth.
Also, you might get to the point in your practice where you decided to specialize in one area (weight release, children, business) and you will realize that people would be served better somewhere else. There is a practitioner that refers people to me all the time because she wants to be doing only one type of work and she knows I am more of a generalist.
4) To Get Testimonials
One of the great bonuses of living in the modern world is that anyone can communicate with anyone else almost any where in the world. One of the great struggles of the modern world is that anyone can communicate with anyone else almost any where in the world.
There is so much noise out there. You need to find a way to stand out in the crowd. One of the great ways to stand out is having people you worked with talk about their experience. I recently added a client who specifically mentioned the testimonials on my website as a reason she contacted me. It is one thing to say that you are good; it is something else when others say it.
Every time you do a presentation, teach a class, or work with someone one-on-one ask them for a testimonial. When I ask for a testimonial I explain why it is so important to my business and ask them if they are willing to write one for me. I give them the opportunity to put their name on it or keep it anonymous. I also provide them samples of what others have written so they can see what I am looking for. (Here are some of the testimonials I have received.)
5) Introduce Yourself, Your Personality, And Your Competency
When you are giving something away for free (be it a session or information like an article) it gives you a chance to let possible clients know who you are. I mean this more than just being able to put your name with your face, but instead to get a real understanding of who you are.
Tapping Q and A is a very personal web site. I don’t spend a great deal of time talking about myself, but if you have been reading this for a while or listening to the podcast you have a sense of who I am. You know what I am passionate about. You can get a sense of how I see the healing process. You can see if I know what I am talking about.
I received a great complement from a client recently. At the end of our first session working together he said, “That felt like our second session because I felt like I knew you from your site and podcast.”
6) To Build A Relationship
Some people aren’t ready to sign up for a session when they first encounter you. At first they might be very hesitant because they are new to tapping, they aren’t able to afford a session, or they don’t ye realize they need outside help yet. I have readers who are on my list for as much as two years before they are ready to do a session with me.
Because I am a presents in their lives by providing a stream of free information to them when it comes time for them to choose a practitioner I am at the front of their minds.
Also, when we build a long-term relationship with people we then have permission to sell things to them. I don’t send a lot of sales letter to my list, but I do send them. Most of the times they are very well received because my readers what to hear from me because of the relationship we have. I am not forcing my way into there life with “BUY! BUY! BUY!” but I am already there and this time I happen to have something for sale.
I knew that I had cultivated a good relationship with my readers when I received an email that read, “Can you please start selling things so I can buy them.”
7) To Give Another Offer For A Sale
Many times after I have given something away for free I will then offer something for sales. Because of the law of reciprocity people are going to feel compelled to listen to your pitch because you have just given them something for free.
8) To Get Information
In March I did a comprehensive survey of my readers. I learned some amazing things. I received a lot of great article topics and realized a number of areas that I could be serving with my work. This article series you are reading right now is based on the fact I had some many readers ask for practice building ideas and information. Basically, I traded digital goods and free sessions for valuable information.
Every choice you make should be made for a reason. The more mindful we are of our choices the more likely we are going to find success. When you are giving things away for free do it for a reason. In part 1b of this series I will explain the types of products, services, and information that you can give away for free.
Note: Gene enjoys helping new practitioners build their practice and current practitioners grown there practice. Let Gene know if you would like to chat about how he could help your practice today. (And yes, the consultation is free)]