I know, I know. You're saying, "Scooter, have you lost your mind? Whaddaya nuts!?"
No, seriously. I've done it… much to the chagrin of my wife. I have given work to people for free. But... there is a method to my madness.
You see this all the time in grocery stores, right? Think about it. You're walking along searching for that 2-gallon jug of ketchup… when you see a nice old lady standing behind a card table with a Bunsen burner. She smiles, and offers you a free sample of Grandma Mabel's Cajun Smoked Sausage. So you take a sample, and… you love it!
Okay, maybe you're thinking, "Those free samples never convince me to buy anything." Well… maybe not. But if it didn't work, do you really think the Grandma Mabel companies of the world would keep asking nice old ladies to hand out samples at the end of the ketchup aisle?
Without revealing any clients' names, I'll give you an example. I saw an email from a company that I'd never heard of. I wondered if they thought about doing radio or TV advertising. So I decided to volunteer my services... for free. With-- a catch. I told them that I will give them a free spot, no strings attached, but if they like the results... any future spots will be at my regular rate. They really had nothing to lose and a free ad to gain. So off I went to the studio, cranked out an ad for them, emailed it to them, and wished them well. About a week later, I checked with them to see how things were going. They were so thrilled with the results of the ad that they simply had to do more ads. And now that company is one of my best clients, and I look forward to working with them each time they call on me.
It's kind of like handing out business cards with a free sample attached. Of course, just like the nice, old lady in the grocery store, there's no guarantee that you'll get a bite from everyone who tries your product. And unlike the grocery store, you need to follow up with your prospects - whether they liked you or not. You won't hit a home run with each swing, but you have to keep swinging to get the hits.