Freeloaders: The Relationship Marketing Caveat
You have something useful to say. You have something beneficial to teach. In the right hands, the knowledge you can impart is very valuable and worthy of compensation.
If you have a proven track record, it’s easy enough to make something available for purchase. Your reputation speaks to the quality of your product and it will sell.
However without a proven track record, you have no loyalty or foundation of trust on which to stand. Potential customers cannot be sure that what you have to offer is truly valuable.
How then do you convey the worth of what you have to offer?
This is where Relationship Marketing comes in. You build a rapport by providing value for free with no strings attached. This shows exactly what you have to offer and builds the necessary trust to facilitate an eventual sale.
Relationship marketing does work, but the difficulty is it also attracts freeloaders. Now, the fact that freeloaders exist is not the difficulty—there will always be freeloaders. The difficulty lies in struggling with your inner response to freeloaders.
When you finally go to sell something after a long period of providing valuable content for free with no strings attached, don’t be surprised when people get legitimately angry at you.
Yes, I said “when,” not “if.”
I didn’t believe this when I heard other people talking about it. I thought surely that’s a rarity, that can’t happen to everyone. I mean, I’m putting in blood, sweat, and tears creating valuable content for people—there’s no way they’ll get angry if I try to sell something, right?
Understand this: If you go to sell something after having provided valuable content for free with no strings attached, you WILL have legitimately angry people saying mean things to you. Expect it and prepare for it.
Know You’re Not Doing Anything Wrong
If there’s one piece of advice I can give you it’s to not mistake the response of freeloaders for an indication that you are doing the wrong thing.
When you consistently provide value, people feel entitled to it. That’s just how it is. But at the end of the day, you have a business to run. You cannot sustain yourself indefinitely on free value. Do not apologize for selling. Remember, the people who get mad when you sell something were never your customer.
Freeloading is a mindset.
The freeloaders I’m talking about are lifelong freeloaders. They intend to mooch indefinitely. You will never convert these people into legitimate customers. They will attempt to make you feel bad for not giving even more on top of what you’ve already provided for free. Don’t let them get to you.
Freeloading is a mindset. This is very different from someone who is pre-purchase. One is a mindset, the other is an eventuality. When you sell something, a freeloader will get angry. But the potential customer’s response will be more along the lines of “Oh!” as they experience a sudden realization and acknowledgement of the value they’ve been receiving all along. It’s now a matter of whether or not they’re in the position to compensate you for more.
By default I see people as potential customers. They only become freeloaders when they make a choice to mooch indefinitely. Until then, I see them as being in the pre-purchase stage. As soon as a potential customer decides in their mind to compensate—they are an ROI on a timer. They may be getting their business going, or waiting to turn a profit, but they’ve decided in their mind that what they’ve received is valuable and they’ve planned to acknowledge that value through compensation.
You will know your freeloaders by their response to you selling something. If they get angry, they’re a freeloader. They’re going to tell you you’re doing it wrong, they’re going to say you’re a bad person, but you have to remember that they were never your customer. You’re doing things right. Carry on.