List-building experts and business coaches are fond of saying you need a bribe to “get people” on your email list.

Often, that’s true.

But what if your bribe felt more like a gift and the exchange was truly delightful rather than just transactional?

hot to create a freebie that doesn't suck

Freebies. Lead magnets. Freemiums.

They’re the mailing list bribes you offer in exchange for adding an email address to your list.

Here’s the deal with freebies: They kind of suck on the whole. Have I seen great ones? Oh yes. But I’d say 90% or so are useless.

I don’t think the authors intended them to be useless, though. They just did what the could and didn’t put a whole lot of thought into building them. They forgot that often, this is a person’s first interaction with their business!

Somewhere along the way they read an article or bought into a program that told them they need to build their list (and they do!) but the program or article did a piss-poor job of telling them how. And then in this hypothetical but all-too-real scenario said coach didn’t know what to create because maybe they’re a newbie and experiencing all the imposter-syndrome-feels… they do the copy and paste.

Copy and Flake

What do I mean by the copy and paste deal? Well, here’s a real story. A year ago I decided I needed to have a business presence on Pinterest. Don’t all go hop on over to my Pinterest profile just yet, because I’ll tell you with full disclosure, it’s not great. I haven’t put time into it. That said, a year ago I decided I should stop ignoring it.

What did I do? I googled how to set up my profile for better business interaction. My search phrase was probably something along the lines of “how to do Pinterest for business.”

It’s been a year so a few of the details are fuzzy but I know this: The various resources from Tailwind and other social media websites popped up as well as a few coaches and VAs who specialize in Pinterest.

I read through the first 10 links. I downloaded three freebies from Pinterest experts.

One of those freebies was a direct copy and paste from an article on Sprout Social. One wasn’t a direct copy and paste but was the same 5 tips regurgitated on multiple other sites. And the other, I don’t remember.

Oof. That’s a 100% fail rate for using a freebie to build your expert status, build your brand, and definitely losing out on gaining a client. These are freebies that suck.

If I can get the same five tips on your freebie that I can get by googling, only my google search didn’t require me to hand over my email address, you have a big problem.

That freebie offered me no value. I also immediately unsubscribed from the person’s list because they obviously had nothing new to offer me. If they’re regurgitating articles from Tailwind, then they aren’t good at what they do.

How to Kill Your Know, Like & Trust Factor

There’s a mental leap there, so let me explain my thought process: if you were really good at what you do, you’d have either developed your own way of doing things, your own way of explaining things, or had further insight beyond what I can google from a lowly-paid social media manager-employee at Tailwind or Sprout Social.

And this is my whole point about why freebies suck so badly–most of them provide no insight, require no thought.

Give me something useful! Give me something that comes from YOUR brain and tells me why I should trust YOU over google!

If you’re newer in biz and thinking, Britney that’s cool and all, but I don’t HAVE my own process yet. I’m doing nutrition guidance the way I learned in school and following their proven formula. What am I supposed to do?

You know what? Your brain still has insight. Since I don’t know enough about nutrition to give a concrete example, let’s use the Pinterest tale here.

If you really feel you have nothing new to offer because there are only a few ways to do Pinterest well, then tell us why.

Go ahead, post three things you need to do to tune up your Pinterest profile–and tell me WHY each of those things is important. If possible, give a case study of a client here.

If you’re going to google stats and put them together as a report, go the extra mile and google stats from multiple different sources and tell us why those stats matter.

I did this on my sales page for Social Post Formulas. I have a graph with 5 or 6 stats from various different sources ranging from Time magazine to Hubspot. Did I cherry-pick stats that support my cause? Of course.

It’s a sales page, but if I were going to use those same stats to put a freebie together to introduce DIY social media managers (i.e. entrepreneurs who can’t afford a social media manager yet), I’d explain why each of those stats is relevant.

Separating your lead magent from the masses

And then this is key: if you’re putting a list together or doing a report like I’ve mentioned, add in a simple tool at the end. It could be simple spreadsheet-like grid for tracking habits you’re trying to encourage. It could be a Pinterest post tracker for repins and followers.

Give the downloader a reason to keep your freebie around!

Ash Ambirge of The Middle Finger Project used to offer a brilliant freebie. It’s a 30-day email series teaching freelancers how to leave behind the trade time for money way of working.

THAT’s how you create top of mind marketing.

Another freebie I love? Any google sheet I have to use regularly. I’ve got some of these for tacking hashtags on Instagram, tracking FB ad spend, tracking my own social media post effectiveness. Again, top of mind.

I don’t download many freebies anymore. They’re just too disappointing. But the ones I remember and like are always ones that leave me thinking I would have happily paid for them – often upwards of $50.

If you look at your freebie and can’t honestly say you’d charge at least $50 for it, you may as well not have one at all. You are damaging your KLT factor if it’s a half-hearted attempt “just to get it out there.”

You don’t want your audience thinking you’ll be half-hearted in your work together, do you?

Start creating top-of-mind marketing with a freebie that doesn’t suck so that your future client’s first interaction with your business BUILDS up your know, like and trust factor.