Every Monday morning by 10AM I get an email with free stuff. I look forward to it. This article is about how this is your digital marketing holy grail.
I’m a sucker for free stuff. Who isn’t? Over the course of time we all get snookered into signing up for various email newsletters and lists, all for the promise of something for nothing. From free case studies, to free downloads, free tips, free tricks, etc. Some time ago I received a promotional email for a new website called Creative Market. I thought – oh great, another Envato like digital download site. I clicked through for the details, and found a half-dozen really nice (and completely free) downloads. A nice fresh new font, some Photoshop brushes, some vector drawings, a WordPress layout, and some generic seamless background textures. I created a Creative Market account to get these 6 downloads for free, with the promise of 6 more new free things each and every Monday in my mailbox.
I was happy with the free downloads I received that day. I have been just as happy with the last 14-15 months worth of downloads that just keep automatically coming each and every Monday in my inbox, week after week. I have literally gigabytes of free stuff in folders all from Creative Market free download Mondays. If you want to join the party, feel free to signup and download your own here. However, that’s not wholly why I wrote today’s post.
The Value of a Side Project
I have been doing digital marketing and website development for more than 20 years now, and two of the most important things that can drive leads are value, and trust. However, convincing users your brand has value and trust will never happen if they don’t know who you are. That is why personal referrals are the holy grail of marketing, because someone you know can easily convince you to try something because of their ‘value and trust’. Not many brands can rely on only word of mouth for the main quality and quantity of leads, but there is another way. Let’s talk about a little something called the “side project”. I often call it the ‘loss leader’, I’m sure there are other traditional marketing names – because this is not a new concept. But if you’re a web developer I’m sure you’re very familiar with having side projects, and how they can get you more work. Well, for a brand they can get you more leads.
Read this article on the ROI of Side Projects and you’ll understand how to apply the side project concept to your brand marketing. It doesn’t matter if this is your personal brand or you work for a fortune 500 company. You can see (from just that article alone) how a side project can create value and trust. Of course, you will need to add to that a good dash of consistency as well.
On the one hand I think about the fact that I have never purchased a single thing from Creative Market. I have only (to date) downloaded their free items each week. I have downloaded gigabytes of data on their dime – absolutely for free. It almost defies reason that they are so consistently giving things away, and they have never missed emailing them out a single week. On the other hand, even though I have spent no money – “I” (as a consumer) am already a much more qualified lead then all daily new visitor traffic they receive.
I am a digital marketer’s dream because:
- I recognize the brand name, I know exactly who they are and what they do
- I trust them, because of the consistency and quality of the free goods
- I allow them to market to me via email. I’ll tolerate occasional emails because I still want the free stuff (I won’t leave the list)
- I am more likely to buy from them. If I need to purchase digital creative in the future, their site will be top of mind because I login for free stuff every week
How You Can Apply This to Your Brand
Now you’re thinking, this is all good and well – how can I apply this to my brand / website / app / store / service, etc.? The article confirmed my long term notion that you have solve a problem for your users in a way that’s relevant to your brand. If you don’t have both these things you miss the mark completely. All marketers should already have a list of problems your potential customers have. Make a bulleted list, and one by one brainstorm how they could be solved. It should be fairly easy to come up with some great side project ideas directly from that list. Just make sure you use the mantra “small scope, painless updates” when deciding which one(s) to do first.