Want to significantly increase your sales and increase your customer response? If so, try using a bait piece in your marketing mix. Last week, I shared with you the importance of content marketing. Bait pieces are one way to extend the reach of your content marketing.
What is a bait piece?
A bait piece is any informational product you offer free of charge to anyone, just for the asking. Think of it as fishing for customers. Just like a worm on a hook, it’s your “bait” to lure in new customers and clients. White papers, special reports, case studies, podcasts and webinars … these are a few examples of bait pieces popular in today’s market. But you don’t have to limit yourself to only those formats. Any informational product that directly relates to your product or service can be used as a bait piece, as long as your prospect will find it useful and valuable.
You can give your bait piece away with no strings attached, but most marketers ask prospects to provide an email address. That’s because using a bait piece is an effective way to build an email list. When the prospect submits their email address, the information is made available immediately, usually as a download.
Interior Designer and Color Expert Maria Killiam of Vancouver, Canada, conducts remote color consultations with clients all over North America. Maria uses her blog, Colour Me Happy, and her e-newsletter to attract prospective clients. To encourage people to sign up for her e-newsletter, she offers a unique bait piece: a special report called The Top 3 Decorating Mistakes Homeowners Make and How To Avoid Them. On top of that report, she also throws in a “bonus” report called My Favourite Go-To Colors. These reports are popular with potential clients because of the perceived value. Many homeowners feel inadequate when decorating their home, and Maria’s reports help them meet the challenges they face.
Tip #1: Create something of value
People do like free stuff—but only if it’s genuinely useful or valuable. We’ve all gotten freebies that are little more than junk: an ugly coffee mug, so-called “diamond” earrings that are no bigger than a speck of glitter, a cheap plastic water bottle. A gimmicky free gift may create traffic, but it won’t necessarily turn that traffic into profits.
A truly valuable bait piece will focus on something the prospect wants or needs. Many times, a bait piece works to show your prospect how to solve a particular problem they might have. Marketing research shows that people will seek out informational products such as special reports to help them solve their problems and make wise purchasing decisions. Try this: Do an online search on the phrases “free report” and “what you must know about.” You’ll see millions of businesses offering free reports that address health issues, business problems, financial problems, legal troubles, pet care, lifestyle issues, home care … the list is endless.
Tip #2: Make sure it is relevant, needed, or necessary.
Naturally, you’ll want your bait piece to be related to your product or service. If it’s not related in any way, it’s nothing more than those gimmicky diamond dust earrings I mentioned earlier. Being relevant proves to the prospect that you can provide the perfect solution to their particular problem. You’ll also want to show your prospects that you are a qualified authority that is capable to speak to the issue or problem at hand. This generates a sense of trust between you and your prospect, and as I’ve shared many times before, today’s buyer values trust more than ever.
Example: A California builder of modular homes, Hallmark Southwest Corporation, offers a free, comprehensive, 91-page reference guide to modular and manufactured homes. It helps the company generate leads, build trust, and position themselves as experts in the industry. The information is extremely useful to anyone who is considering this type of home.
Tip #3: Let the bait piece do the work for you.
Most people today are overloaded with advertising and marketing messages. They’re bombarded everywhere they go. This makes them cautious and skeptical of most advertising claims. Savvy business owners love using bait pieces because they take off some of the pressure to sell. Instead of heavily pushing your product or service or spending large amounts of money on advertising, the bait piece sells indirectly by explaining how it will help solve your prospect’s problem. It helps prospects connect the dots. It’s a passive and yet productive way of increasing sales.
For example, a national waterproofing company called B-Dry Waterproofing uses a free, downloadable checklist as a bait piece. The checklist not only helps homeowners to determine the source of water, but it also helps them compare different service providers.
Try out several different types of bait pieces, and track your results. One company may see greater results with a white paper, while another company selling a different product may have better results with podcasts.
A parting word: Don’t be afraid to give away great information. You may fear that giving away “too much” information will hinder people from hiring you or buying your product. Not so. If anything, they’ll appreciate you for the great information you are giving, and they’ll be eager to pay money for a solution that, by extension, will deliver even more value.