You’ve Got to Give to Get
Contradictory to the title of this book I never brag or boast about money or success, but folks tend to listen more intently when they get real numbers. We went from $0 to $1.2 million in sales during our first 12 months. This year, our second year as an eCommerce business, we will have made over $5 million in sales. We started with less than 200 YouTube subscribers before our first sale, and today we have over 150,000 and are gaining about 20,000 new subscribers per month. We knew nothing about YouTube, online business, or modern marketing. This book will detail the exact process we learned. Now that the numbers are out of the way let's get started. You Got This!
You need to give to get!
For so many YouTubers and business owners whose number one goal
is making money, my first piece of advice, which forms the crux of my philosophy, doesn’t always sit well. It seems contradictory to the end goal of a successful business and flies in the face of our modern corporate money grab culture. Nothing is free, right? Wrong.
Put simply, “you need to give to get” means that you should aspire to give away, what you reasonably can, for free. Yes, FREE! This drives customers to your products or services and builds customer loyalty. If you don’t make it past this first chapter, which I strongly recommend you do, you are in luck because you have already learned the most important lesson I have to share.
When I first conceptualized the idea of making “how to videos” that featured my products, I envisioned that contractors would pay for an educational video series that taught them how to use my countertop epoxy and techniques on how to renew old countertop projects that they used on their own jobs. I set to work. I spent hours filming groups of videos focusing on single topics of products as a way of providing workshops remotely. The thinking was that anyone who bought my video series would be invited to purchase the epoxy. I had spent ten years researching and developing my techniques, knowledge and epoxies through trial and error. I wasn’t about to simply give that away for free. Nor did I think it was worthwhile to sell my epoxies to customers who hadn’t been properly trained.
Needless to say, my plan fell short of expectation. After two years of trying to convince contractors that they needed my video series, only one went on to make a purchase. My initial expectations versus the reality of what was turning out to be a dead-end venture threw me for a loop. I struggled with doubt, questioning if I should scrap the whole plan. I came close, a number of times, to giving up on the videos all together, but the fact remained that I wanted to share my knowledge. I was proud of my product and enthusiastic about the techniques, tips and tricks I could share, if only my customers would give the videos a chance. The video series were good, and it felt like a mistake to abandon the idea. I knew my products were the best if only I could convince folks to try them.
It turned out I had been thinking about my product, business and customer base too narrowly. I approached my videos the same way I approached my products, from the mind set of, I have to sell, sell, sell rather than, I have to give. As soon as I put the videos up for free, my product sales took off like a rocket.
The mind set I had held onto for two years while I tried to sell my videos, came from the strong belief in the value of what I had to share, and it was further encouraged by other companies I found giving only teasers before roping customers into signing up for something or purchasing the full video or product. So many videos out there will show three-quarters of the information, but the really valuable information is withheld until the viewer pays money. It is possible that you will get some “customers” to sign up for your mailing list, clicking the subscribe button or maybe even a few that drop a couple bucks on whatever you are selling by hooking them with a partial preview, but I have learned from experience that those customers aren’t coming back. They aren’t the active users who write reviews, engage on YouTube, read your monthly newsletter or most importantly, continue to buy your product. My point is don’t be stingy with what you know.
This understanding and acceptance opened up endless possibilities, and from there I came up with my three principals of YouTube Success.