From day one we are told to build a list because the money is in the list. So as small business bloggers we quickly create some sort of free giveaway in return for our visitors e-mail.
Then we think we’ve got them.
We think we have the right to bombard our list with recommendations to buy products whether via an affiliate link or our own.
We think, “We’ve given them something for free they should now buy from us”.
But it doesn’t work like that.
Giving something away for free is no longer unique or different… it’s the norm.
I’m not saying don’t do it. Building a list is a fundamental part of making income online but don’t expect the money to come pouring in just because you’ve given something away for free.
There’s a lot more to it than just giving away something for free. You have to build rapport and a relationship with your list…you have to provide extra free advice that they can take action on… you have to respond to their e-mails…you have to “wow” them.
Then just maybe a small percentage may purchase one of your recommendations.
The law of reciprocation
This is a powerful rule, law whatever you want to call it. The rule says we should do our best to repay what another person has provided us.
If that’s true then the thousands of people who have downloaded my free blogging guide should repay me in some way!
But the reciprocation rule above is outdated. It’s missing one fundamental point.
I think a better statement would be:
We should do our best to repay what another person has provided us…as long as what they provide is unforeseen / out of the blue / unexpected.
Let me share with you a recent experience I encountered.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post about improving your blog speed. The post talked about using a CDN to improve your blog speed.
I received an e-mail from one of my regular commentors asking for some help. He had tried to implement the same CDN process on his blog and it wasn’t working. He asked whether I would take a look.
I didn’t mind so I took a look.
It took me 15 min or so to make the CDN work and his blog loading speed improved considerably.
The blog owner was extremely thankful.
I was pleased. I helped a fellow blogger/friend.
I carried on with the rest of my working day.
The next day I got an e-mail from the blog owner asking for my advice on keyword analysis tools.
I pointed him towards Market Samurai which is the tool I use for keyword analysis. I pointed out that Market Samurai has a huge amount of functionality and the keyword analysis part is free.
Then I shared my Market Samurai review blog post.
I few minutes later I received an e-mail from Market Samurai saying that I had made an affiliate sale and earned some commission.
My fellow blogger had purchased Market Samurai via my affiliate link.
Did he feel obliged to? I don’t think so.
I think it was just down to the timing but as I had helped him he most probably thought: “Andrew helped me. I’m looking for a keyword analysis tool and I could buy via Andrews affiliate link.”
So the trait that makes you more money is…reciprocation.
By providing something that is unforeseen / out of the blue / unexpected… The receiver may just feel obliged to return the favour in some way.
What’s your experience of reciprocation?
Please share your views in the comments below.
P.S. The image is a ‘back scratcher’
Dear Andrew –
Everything you said is correct except your reputation for being helpful to everyone whether they are a client or not is the most important I think. I hear that from many people.
And you also respond to every comment is also commendable.
I do my best to help…if I can.
The way I look at it is…
60 seconds of my time could save someone hours of work and frustration (and vice versa of course!).
This post is a great reminder of giving. You ask, “What’s your experience of reciprocation?” What I have found in life is that the more love I give out the more love I get back. Rewards come in all shapes and sizes, whether it be money, friendship or love helping people is a wonderful experience. Thank you Andrew for reminding us that reciprocation is the way to live our life.
Lots of free love – I like that!
You are right…it doesn’t matter what you give as long as it is nice!
Reciprocation is recognized in all societies. It is a very strong force in us. Unfortunately, unscrupulous marketers know this and now people are very wary. Reciprocation works both ways, you illustrate this in your example above. You gave, twice and then received. Nice! That is how it works when we are trusted.
Trusted…and not expecting it!
At first your story seems to be one of reciprocity. But the principle of reciprocity is to respond in-kind, while you, Andrew, always respond in a positive, helpful, constructive way – in the Andrew Rondeau way – pro-active, regardless of the other person’s attitude. It makes your story an illustration of “One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself”. It makes knowing you – and using that back scratcher of yours – such a pleasure.
Such kind words!
I try to smile when I’m on the phone, chatting on skype or writing emails!
Well, this sounds kind of idealistic, especially nowadays, when the motto is: everyone should do everything only for himself/herself. I admit, I had few experiences of this kind lately…
Tell us more about your experiences…
I think you hit the nail on the head with this post. Free tools and tutorials are available everywhere but it’s those one-on-one connections that drive real reciprocity.
I a couple months ago I took my guitar to a local luthier just for a set-up, sort of a maintenance routine of oiling the fretboard and intonating the instrument. In the process of setting up my guitar the luthier noticed an issue with one of my tuners which he replaced. When I came to pick up the guitar he noted the repair, but only charged me the $50 for the set-up fee without the repair included. I asked him what I owed him for the repair and he said it was “on the house”. While he does repairs, as I mentioned earlier, his main profession is that of a luthier and he makes custom guitars. Though I didn’t feel obligated due to his earlier kindness I actually just purchased a $1200 custom guitar from him based on that interaction. Just more evidence that a little kindness can go a long way.
Great story – it shows exactly our point.
Give a little…’wow’ the customers and they will come back.
Great customer service these days is hard to find.
Provide great customer service and you’ll never be poor!
Andrew this is really great advice. there’s a fine line between giving away yourself so much that there is nothing left, and helping others and pointing them in the right direction – which you did… You’ve also helped me and I’ve sent you a couple of people (don’t think they’ve followed through) but your willingness to help me puts you on the top of my referral list!
I agree…there is a fine line. I think I would have to charge if I ever got to the stage of ‘nothing left’!
Thanks for the referrals…just sometimes people don’t act on great advice!
Very well written Andrew, I am proud to say I have experienced the same a time or two myself.
Flip-side: I was on a list for a number of years where ll they sent were freebies, with a paid ad in between…
I rarely if ever bought anything. Why? Instead of being impressed by the amount of freebies, I felt “set up”.
Being ‘set-up’, eh?
For me I think it would depend upon how good the advice was.
One thing that does annoy me is the big names in IM. I only ever hear from them when they are promoting something.
I never get great advice from them…without some kind of following ‘sales’ thing.
Must admit…in my early days on-line I was sucked in.
ALL she sent was freebie after freebie, with a cost-based product thrown in here and there…that was every single email.
She was awesome in the beginning, she was actually one of my first mentors and taught me a lot, that’s why I stayed on her list so long, I knew she had it in her.
Problem was, she zigged and zagged and “gurutized” herself in a couple yrs…that was it.
You made a very good point that by helping others free of charge is a good thing. It might actually make you some money in the end. besides making you money you have built a relationship with that person and from there on out they will have more trust for what you promote. That my friend is unbeatable.
What you say is right…what is even better is I didn’t ‘plan’ it that way.
I’d be happy if they would show a interest. Unfortunately, the niche I have chosen (and have a passion for) is attitude and everyday tips about disability. It’ll take some time before any of my readers feel comfortable asking for advice. I’m just glad that a few of them comment.
These things do take time and they will be comfortable.
Comments come first…then asking for advice.
How long have you been writing about the niche?
I think the “law of reciprocity”, how you call it, doesn’t work anymore because there isn’t a lot of good willed helping going on. Usually people provide free reports and free stuff just to gain something in return, and this is not true helping, because you are just giving something away to win something in return, so it’s for you.
But what you did, is helping somebody just because you wanted to help someone, not because you think you would get something in return and because of your genuine gesture, you got the wheels of the law in motion.
P.S. nice post scriptum, I was about to ask you what that spatula is :)).
Agree…the free thing doesn’t work half as good as it did. Still worth doing…but there has to be another better way!
Definitely the people that I have helped the most are more willingly to buy anything on my site.
Something else that I have started to do is make real reviews from the products I use including a small training in how to install and a few tricks to use the software.
That has helped to increase a few sales in there. I mean to be honest I was not expecting to make the sale but at the end it happened.
Always take care of others and those others will take care of you.
I’ve done a few reviews of some products I use. I do need to do more!
Yes, just giving up free products can’t make people your customers. It is relationship that make them to decide buy from you or vis your affiliate link.
Nice example – and a nice picture of a back scratcher! I think there is something else about making yourself approachable in the first place, so people aren’t afraid to ask.
Re: approach. Very true!
I think how you react to someone asking is fundamental. It will determine if they come back again.
I’m hoping people see me as approachable by replying to comments and having my ‘live chat facility’.
Reciprocation is an important concept, and I think you’ve outlined the aspects of it well. Mostly, I believe that give-aways and other gimmicks are trendy and will not last as methods for building either email lists or traffic. In the end, quality content will be the only thing that gets results, but it will take us a few more years to get to that point.
I think you are right. I think people want to read / see high quality content, get to know the site owner BEFORE even thinking about signing up for anything free.
Hence why I DETEST pop-ups.
I like reciprocity sense ever since and that’s why it led me to do something in opposite to give back in return for all the successes I’m having because of not only my online business followers and members but the whole community in return. Their support and trust on me has been so big that I wanted to do something in general to thank for all the blessings. Just started to visit a teen whom I’m coaching and I’m really happy to get started.
Coaching a teen is such a great ‘gift’ you are giving back. Kudos to you.
It must be very fulfilling.
Andrew you gave a good tip with example that not only giving something free is a big thing but to build rapport and a relationship with your list is also important and it include extra free advice that people can take action on and we have to respond to their emails.
I think you’re a great example that others should follow (and not just in this respect!). Life, on the whole, can be tough and if I can solve someone’s problem by spending 5 or 10 minutes on an email without charging them – whether they’re a new person to me or an old client, then I will do that. It’ll take me longer than that to do all the accounting and invoice etc. Of course you have to earn a living, but I do believe what goes around comes around, or whatever that phrase is!
…and do it with a smile!
Reciprocity is a fantastic business tactic. It’s very powerful because it’s powered by human nature.
Not only does it work online, it works great for offline businesses as well. There is a regional tire store chain in my area that fixes flat tires for free, with no appointment. They do this whether or not you bought the tire from them or not.
While they may initially lose out on a $12 flat tire repair, you can bet that the miniscule $12 investment has resulted in more than a few lifetime customers for them, especially as they’re known for top notch service.
That brings up a great point. Reciprocity only goes so far. You have to back it up with a great product and service, otherwise it is wasted.
So the $12 tyre deal is like their free giveaway but a service…I like it.
I wonder how many people THINK it is some-sort of ‘con’. You know…they fix the tyre but find something else to do and try and charge.
We are so skeptical!
Got me thinking though…some sort of blogging free service.
Andrew, you are such a good man, I will miss u when coming across a problem, just kidding, nice sharing!
Spot-on! Nothing in life is more important than building relationships. Part of that is doing a little something extra for someone. In Louisiana, we call it lagniappe.
I give a little something extra frequently in my tutoring business. I’ll run overtime with a student who really needs help, but I don’t charge extra for it. What I’ve gotten in return is repeat customers for years, until all their kids are through high school, and sometimes I see them in their early college years.
Almost all my students now come from referrals, and I’m ecstatic that my kids and their parents think highly enough of my abilities to recommend me to other families. It’s the highest praise I could ever receive.
My online business is mostly writing as my own outlet. I have a couple of niche sites that make some money and don’t really require much interaction with visitors, but my primary sites, the ones I’ve sent the group to, are my writing. I do have some PPC ads and there are some things available to buy, but I don’t really push any of them unless I review it or talk about it in a post. Mostly, I have links to important books on a subject, or what I’m currently reading. It pays for hosting, domain names and email list hosting plus a little left over. All I’m after are regular readers, and I would do better at that if I could write regularly.
I think reciprocity is still very much alive and well in the world. I’m glad it is.
Great examples…and the return for ‘wowing’ the customers is all those referrals.
I’m still new to the business world so I don’t have a standout example of getting back. I do love to give though, and I try hard to be a really good customer whenever I can. I figure that will pay off at some point.
Providing great customer service does pay off…you’ll see.
The rule of the game have changed and your post points this out in details.
Congratulations on building that relationship with your readers.
Helping other is very important in every business.If you help someone,they consider you trustworthy