What's the easiest and most effective way of teaching business owners the importance of having online presence and get them to use our FREE services?

What kind of marketing approach is most suitable for a web design company in a country where over 60% of businesses don’t have websites because they 1. Can’t see the obvious benefits with having a website and 2. Can’t afford them? My co-founder and I have two passions, the first is online marketing and the other is doing something good for the people that are not as fortunate as we are. We have decided to offer our web design services in a country where 83% of the population uses internet on daily basis, but still the majority of business owners don’t take advantage of this ( I mentioned the top 2 reasons above). Now, since this is a poor country, we want to merge our two passions. Our plan is to give away free websites and marketing advice in hope that the businesses will (instead of paying us) use this money to make a difference in their communities. We would work side by side with the businesses trying to find great causes they could “sponsor” and they would not only get a free website and advice, but we would also promote every business that contributes in making their community better on our blog and through our existing social media channels. Even though my co-founder is a real marketing genius here in Scandinavia, we still find it difficult to figure out a way to reach and convince the business owners in this particular country (South East Europe) of why they need to be online (website, social media etc) even if the facts are that their customers already are online. It also feels like it’s so much harder to “sell” free services then to actually get people to pay for them (and we really don’t want to do that in this case). Anyone else that has experienced this and how did you solve it? Sorry for the long post, but we really hope you guys have some advice and/or ideas on what kind of actions we should take and how to best and most effective promote our free services. Thanks!



First, i would not give for free the service, even if the money they would pay is going to go support their communities, you want to build a 100 years business and not a 6 months hobbies.

The best way to make them use your product, is giving them a free trial period (1 or 2 months) and after using your service you calculate with them the ROI (return over investment) of having an online presence. By seeing in real money that your service provides them more sales is going to make that they want to use your product.

Dont start with all the businesses. Choose a little segment of businesses (like little retailers or gift shops) and talk to them and show them your solution, if they dont validare your solution, change to other segmento until you find the one that are willing to pay.

Maybe the solution you are proposing doesnt solee their problem and you should change or iterare the solution.

Hope it helps!

Answered 11 years ago

free services can be great to get them into your funnel. If they don't understand the value, I would create online seminars or videos that you can point them to, to educate them.

Let's hop on a call and discuss a gameplay for you.

Answered 11 years ago

I would have to agree with Miguel above about not offering your services for free. Once you give something for free it is difficult to charge later. I would offer a basic service perhaps for a fixed duration for "Free" with options then for different paid services.

I appreciate from your points that these businesses may have little money but the idea is that with your help they can start to make money online. From my own experience all you get from offering anything for free is a passionate "Thank You" and nothing else.

I also think that offering the service as web design is probably the wrong terminology and one that in my own business have distanced myself from more and more. You need to offer them online boarding for business or some such offer. You need to be offering them the chance to get customers / presence / reputation / money online. Although these are meant to be natural results of web design and associated marketing the words "web design" don't resonate with most business users.

Here are some options that I would suggest

- Take percentage of their business
- Offer a regular (small) payment plan
- Offer them chance perhaps to regain all their fee if they get you 5 referrals for new business that result in new projects for you. The maths on this is that you will be bale to use the clients as your sales team and over time build a client base.

Answered 11 years ago

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