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Sure-fire Tutorial on Attracting Hoards of Customers with
By: Chris Kilian, Sat Sep 16th, 2006
You're constantly on the lookout for sure-fire ways to attract
targeted customers to your online business. Well, what do you
Really--what *do* you know? Think long and hard about this,
because you can use your areas of expertise, your skills and/or
your hobbies as springboards for promoting and selling your
goods or services to a captive audience --by offering a free
If It's Free, It's For Me!
Why offer a freebie when you're trying to make a profit from
your business? While at first glance the concept might not make
sense, it is actually one of the oldest and most effective
marketing techniques both online and off. People simply love to
get things for free, and merchants oblige, with the goal of
selling additional goods back end. From taste testings at
wineries and supermarkets, to product samples delivered
door-to-door, vendors have used freebies for decades to promote
Free classes fall into this same "try something for nothing"
Again, using a comparable example from the brick and mortar
world, consider the craft store chain that offers free classes
on how to make decorative wreathes. Where will most, if not all,
of the people who attend these classes purchase their crafting
It's a win-win situation; those who take the class gain a new
skill for free, and the store gains new--and probably
Those Who Can Do, Teach
"But I've never taught anything in my life!"
Chances are, you have--whether showing a child how to bait a
hook or bake cookies, or coaching a new co-worker on the job, we
all have opportunities to take on the role of teacher now and
then. "Teaching" is simply taking something we've learned, and
showing someone else how to do it.
The fact that your instruction didn't involve a structured
course plan or weekly quizzes doesn't make you any less of a
teacher in these situations.
When developing your free online course, focus on selecting a
subject that meets these three criteria:
·One that involves a topic or skill that you consider yourself
good at, or even an expert; ·Something that other people would
love to learn; ·And, finally, has some sort of tie-in back to
Going back to the craft store example above, you can see that
offering free decorative wreath class successfully satisfies all
three of these qualifications.
Still not sure what you could possibly teach in your own free
Begin with the third criterion--base it on your business
itself-- and go from there.
Let's say, for example, that you operate a marine supply company
aimed at sailboat owners; you might offer a free "Safety Tips
for Sailors" course, or a "Long-Distance Sailor's Survival"
Or if you specialize in providing virtual office services to
small businesses, you could conduct a course entitled "Simple
Bookkeeping Techniques for Busy Business People," or perhaps a
basic business writing course.
As with any marketing strategy, your free course ideas are
limited only by your imagination--as long as you keep the three
rules of thumb listed above in mind.
Develop Your Course Once, Teach It Thousands of Times
The best and most cost-effective way to develop and deliver your
free online course is to use an autoresponder service that
allows you to set up several (five to eight) messages which will
be generated automatically to those who sign up for the class.
Set up each outgoing message as one "lesson" in the course; in
the first lesson, you might provide a complete overview of what
information the course will cover, followed by more specific
information in lesson two, and so forth.
Each lesson needs to be no longer than a short article, ranging
from 500 to 900 words.
You might also want to include little "assignments" at the end
of each lesson,encouraging your students to put into action the
material covered that day.
As for pacing your course, select an autoresponder service that
allows you to preschedule the time intervals between lessons.
You can then choose to send a new lesson out each day, every
other day, once a week, or whatever.
You only need to develop your course and set up the mailing
strategy once, and let the autoresponder take it from there.
Using the Free Course to Promote Your Business
Keeping in mind that your free online course is a marketing
tool, you will of course want to somehow refer your students
back to your business Web site.
This means incorporating the additional products or services
that you offer, along with your URL, into each and every lesson.
The goal here is to strike a balance between sounding flagrantly
self-promotional and being too subtle.
In other words, you do not want to chase off those who have
signed up for your free course with a barrage of hype; most of
us already see too much advertising daily, and have become
desensitized to it.
At the same time, you want your "students" to know where they
can find additional information or tools on the subject--at
You can accomplish this by covering each lesson in greater depth
on your site (e.g., "For more information on today's lesson,
visit http://www.yoursite.com"), including a trip to your URL as
part of each day's assignment, or simply posting a brief
advertisement for your site at the end of each lesson.
If your course-takers feel they have benefited from the free
information they have received from you, they will be much more
inclined to at least take a look at what else you have to offer.
Many Internet entrepreneurs currently offer free online courses
to gain exposure and expand their clientele.
Although developing your own course requires a good deal of
effort up front, the pay-off in terms or increased traffic and
sales is tremendous.
Incorporate the "teach'em to reach 'em" philosophy into your
marketing strategy, and watch your business soar!
About the author:
Mr Killian is the author behind the Rapid Reply.net Corp. Find
out sure-fire ways to promote your online business at