Is Your Marketing Strategy Using This Powerful Principle?

In this day and age we are constantly bombarded with advertising and marketing. It is estimated the average person sees 5000 ads per day. The result? We ignore the majority of them. The marketing message falls on deaf ears or blind eyes. Simply put, there is too much clutter out there, and to deal with it (and in order to get on with life) we simply ignore it.

How Can I Get My Message Out There And Break Through All The Clutter?

The famous copywriter Gary Bencivenga said the secret to advertising can be summed up in five words:

“Make your advertising itself valuable.”

Simple, isn’t it? Start giving to your prospects before you expect anything back. This is especially true in the realm of information marketing, but can be applied in any industry.

In information marketing there are times where the end result is moving people towards some end goal. That end goal could be weight loss, making money on the Internet, learning to play the guitar etc. Your product may provide the solution to this end goal.

But each of these goals could be broken up into smaller steps or different components. And I am sure most of the end goals comprise of many other hurdles or obstacles that need to be overcome. Now ultimately your goal is to make a sale of your product/service, but if you can make your initial goals to help your customer overcome some of the obstacles, and move closer to their desired end goal for free, in the long run it will help your sales.

What! Help People For Free?

Yes, for free. Not only does giving away something for free (even if it’s just good information) use the law of reciprocity, which is one of Cialdini’s weapons of influence, but it also builds trust and gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge.

By giving away some great free information, it allows you to demonstrate to the reader the knowledge you have in the area, and you can show them exactly the high level of expertise you have.

If you made your free piece of information so good that it was better than most paid products, do you think that would help elevate your credibility in the eyes of the potential customer? What about if you tackled and helped them overcome one of the major stumbling blocks involved in reaching their end goal, do you think they would appreciate that and be interested in what else you have to say? A big YES to both of those, and that can only help sales.

The Best Niche At Giving Away Free Stuff

We can see these principles well demonstrated in the make money online niche, specifically Internet marketing. In my opinion, this niche has to be one of the most savvy niches around. They have really raised the bar of what the customer expects now, not only in the delivery of the end product, but also in the pre-sales area. In depth reports, great videos, and even free software are now almost standard practices of Internet marketing pre- launches.

Recently, I watched a product launch that included three videos. Each video was about 50 minutes long and the content was amazing. It was, in fact, better than most paid courses. The information in those three videos answered many doubts and questions, provided tools to overcome common obstacles, and inspired the viewer to make them feel the end goal was totally achievable.

Obviously, the main goal was to sell the main product, but that goal was so much more easily accomplished because of the initial value delivered to potential customers. It is only natural to think, “Wow! If this is the free stuff they are giving away, what must the paid product be like?” Plus it makes the transition to actually promoting your product so much easier and natural. A very covert way of marketing.

Covert Marketing Where I Least Expected It

I recently had the pleasure of seeing this type of covert marketing, and it happened in the most unlikely scenario.

I was at the Noosa Food and Wine festival, and had got a seat in the auditorium to watch the cooking demonstrations. This is where world famous chefs showcase some of their signature dishes. People flock to watch it for the spectacle and expertise of cooking, not because they are going to go home and actually cook the dish.

I was particularly interested in watching one famous chef, his restaurant for many years was the top restaurant in Sydney, and has been ranked in the top ten in the world. The chef took the stage and announced that he wouldn’t be doing a demonstration of restaurant food, he wanted to demonstrate food that we could actually cook at home. Nice.

Previous chefs had whipped up impractical dishes with hard to source ingredients or using expensive cooking contraptions, it was great to have something that we could actually do. He also mentioned that he had several helpers to serve the food to us, because he wanted us to actually taste it. This was getting better and better, as usually the cooked dishes were just taken out the back.

Over the next 45 minutes the chef cooked five dishes using pre-packaged, locally available spanner crab meat. During the demonstration we were repeatedly told how easy it is to cook with spanner crab meat, and this was reinforced as we saw these dishes being whipped up in a quick smart fashion. It even had me thinking “Yeah, that doesn’t look hard, even I could do that”.

After each dish the helpers hurriedly tried to disperse the food to the masses so we could all sample the flavors of ‘spanner crab, ginger and shallots on vermicelli’ and ‘Thai chili spanner crab’. And luckily so, because the smells were so enticing and hunger inducing, I think most people were about to eat their program schedule. How often do you get to taste food from a world renown chef for free?

By the end of the demonstration, the chef had surpassed his legendary status. He was friendly and likable. He had demonstrated some practical dishes that we could cook at home, and he had even insisted we taste the dishes. I seriously thought, like most people in the room I suspect, that integrating a spanner crab meat omelette into my weekly eating regime wouldn’t be a bad idea. To top it off, the five recipes he had cooked were available in a free glossy recipe booklet at the end of the demonstration. Awesome.

Mmmm. . . What’s Going On Here?

I couldn’t help but notice that the recipe book was sponsored by the company that supplied the spanner crab meat. Interesting.

Then it dawned on me. Oh my goodness, we had just participated in a 45 minute advertisement for the spanner crab meat company. It was so well done, and I only noticed it because of my keen interest in marketing. I think everyone else in the room was oblivious to it.

The chef did a wonderful job of building rapport and trust with the audience. He taught us some great recipes and showed us how easy they were to cook. And if there was any doubt left, the free sample tasters put that to rest. The result, everyone not only left the room thinking they too could easily cook the perfect spanner crab meat omelette, but they actually wanted to cook it. It was a perfect covert marketing campaign.

How To Apply This To My Business

As mentioned in previous articles you must always have your customer in mind. If you know your customer well, you will know exactly how to move them closer to their goal.

You can do this by delivering great and helpful content:

  • Make your free report for your email opt-in better than most paid products. This is a great opportunity to make a good impression on your reader and potentially increase your future email open rates.
  • Make sure your email campaigns contain high quality information that addresses the primary obstacles or concerns your client base has. If you are promoting an information product you may give away free chapter excerpts or even have the product available on a seven day $1 trial basis.

Although initially it may seem like giving all this free stuff away is counter intuitive to making sales, many marketers have learned that what they give away will come back multiplied.

Have you come across any examples or recently experienced any marketing that delivers massive value to the customer before a transaction takes place, how did it make you feel?

Yaro Starak



How Much Traffic Do You Really Need To Make $100,000 A Year?

I learned early on that growing your traffic by trying to ‘be everywhere’ is too hard. Instead I focus on just one simple goal when it comes to getting customers online. Learn a smarter traffic strategy in my free email course, click here to sign up.

About Yaro

Yaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and .

Follow Yaro

View Yaro Starak's profile on LinkedIn
Follow us on Instagram


  • Ann

    Covert Marketing, I love it

  • Leevi, nice article. I agree, write it so most people will understand it, and make it useful. I give everything away for free. I write articles about relationships, and I noticed when I post pictures that are sensual in nature, it attracts more people. Just using the word “SEX” is an eye catcher. So I incorporate pictures and words in that nature to keep their focus and attention on my writing. Basically I give them what they want, and I get to write about what’s important to me.


  • Certainly the best advertisement is this that doesn’t look like ad and additionally it gives value to the people!

  • This is a great post Leevi! Marketing is one of the most important roles in business, especially a small business, and the fact that the average person sees 5,000 ads a day is mind blowing considering how many are ignored. A recent example of covert marketing was National Donut Day, taking place on June 3rd. Word spread really quickly as the major donut chains advertised their free donuts on both Twitter and Facebook, while a local donut shop had banners all around town. Offering free products on a bogus holiday sure is a great way to market your business.

    • National Donut Day! I love it! Too funny.

  • Quite interesting story. I agree with what you said, when you over deliver it will
    come back to you, Look after your clients needs and the rest will add up.

  • Thank you for such a great example – although it may not exactly fit my business, but it gave me an excellent idea. We will see how it pans out shortly!

  • Thanks for the post. Enjoyed the part about you sitting through a 45 minute ad without noticing it was one. Makes you think about a day when ‘ads’ will become so relevant they just become entertainment.



    • I like that statement Matthew about ads becoming so relevant they are entertainment – or educational, I think that is what marketers should be working towards, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for that happening anytime soon (especially in some mediums like TV).

      Seth Godin has addressed this point at length with regards to interruption marketing and permission marketing.


    • That day is already here Matthew. Super Bowl commercials and viral YouTube videos are examples of ads as entertainment. Quite a few viral videos are funny commercials for products.

      I don’t watch NASCAR racing much but I’m familiar with the Orange Tide car, the Target (department store) car and the GoDaddy (web hosting) car. All are examples of ads as entertainment.

      Here in North America you can view plenty of educational ads after midnight. They’re called infomercials. It’s a half hour or hour long program where a has-been celebrity interviews people and the product owner. Lots of educational information and facts are presented.

      This blog is in a way an educational ad. In the web beta era of the internet it was all about 1 page mile long sales pages for ebooks. Marketing during the web 2.0 era is about building a relationship partly through education, blogging, forum and email marketing for video courses and webinars.

      Marketing principles haven’t changed much but good marketing is now much more sophisticated.

  • Great Post, One thing i Notice when you give stuff in the business world when you give something for free..You get a lot in return

  • I Love the Cook Story!

    But, in reality… the reason why giving away value prior to selling is none other than you mentioned… to build trust.

    Every time I read articles like this one, it gives me hope. Because even when I could have used this blog posting 6 months ago… I know it will help a great deal of people who are just now looking to get started online.

    Such a great posting, I’ll be sharing for sure.

    Thanks again!


    • Hi Dereck

      Thanks for the kind words! Glad you enjoyed the article.


  • I really admire this post because there are things I am lacking about on having my own business. There are lots of things to learn. Marketing is very important and I still have to improve the strategies.

  • Some once said and i quote
    ‘what i am is God’s gift to me. And what i make of myself is my gift to the world. Through learning and personal experiences, i just became aware that it is not the volume or value of what we have (in life and in business) that brings us success. Instead, the reverse is the true reality. Keep giving and you’ll become an the leader in your niche. Because
    ‘ A share of the mind, is a share of the market’. Thank you Leevi for insights.

  • Hey Leevi,

    Thanks for the great content. You are so right with the IM market place. It is very competitive and is a hard niche to break into.

    Some of the smaller niches are a good start. But as for advertising nobody likes to be sold too. Give first and sell second.

    • Hi Craig

      Thanks glad you enjoyed it. So true about ‘give first and sell second’, a little patience can go a long way.

      Yeah IM is tough, sometimes it can be a breath of fresh air to market outside of it to not so savvy marketing individuals.


  • First you always make something for free and only after some time pass you can do it for money.

  • Great post, since 2008 I have worked on building traffic and subscribers. This is great but to increase the actual sales I had to provide 1,000 times more value than everyone else in the market. (Like Yaro Does!)…

    So I’ve started to get clever and work with my subscribers behind the scenes with emails and calls. It’s made me think that I’ve wasted 3 years of my time!, but on the plus side I did built some nice links on-line which gives me steady traffic, every day (Swings & Roundabouts!)…

    All the best guys,

    David Edwards

  • I believe in this type of marketing, giving value first shows you as the good guy. I really beleive it is a better way to start with anyone giving them something first.

  • Thanks for the great content Leevi. We are doing all things to satisfy our customers and that powerful principle must always be kept in mind.

  • Great post. Having a marketing strategy can be the life or death of a business. If you are not sure how to begin developing your marketing plan and strategy these resources will help you.

  • Effective marketing is very important in every business. And it is nice to learn ways to be more effective and efficient in marketing especially know that competition is really stiff.

  • Firstly thanks for the links…
    My question is that is commenting on blogs better then posting on forums for seo purpose. I have a blog and it requires better link building.

    reply required

  • The best marketing plan I have found is that of…”Word of Mouth” and using FREE
    Publicity. It has put more money in my bank account than any other marketing strategy I have used. Inf one really thinks about it …it is not hard to do even on the Internet. Talk about a marketing plan…that will…EXPLODE YOUR BUSINESS BOTTOM LINE. The thing I find is that many entrepreneurs for some reason are unwilling to use it. If you are not using “Word of Mouth” or “Publicity” then you’re sitting on a GOLDMINE.

  • Unfortunately concept of giving away free stuff is often abused these days, especially in the Internet marketing community a lot of so called “valuable” reports, videos and so on, is not really that valuable. It would be nice if more marketers did not try to cheat their way to the sale and made their free stuff better.

  • i think promotion by mouth is the best choice for me now…. anyway, i like this article leevi! 🙂

  • Wow really? 5000 ads per day?! Is this subjective to how long each person stays online or is this already the average?

    – Jack Leak

  • I really appreciate it if an article contains testimonials and / or case studies
    Nowadays building some kind of relatioship is an essential part of marketing,so why not start with a nice gift to the customer?

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow Yaro: Email | RSS | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn | Instagram | YouTube