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Marketing / Attracting new business

Getting new clients with a ‘bait piece’

The free information offer is one of the most effective on and offline marketing tactics for getting new clients. Here's how to create a cheap and versatile educational "bait piece" that you can use to increase the effectiveness of your marketing.

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What’s a bait piece?

A bait piece is some valuable free content – an informative article, e-book or report – that you use to bait the hook when you go fishing for sales leads. It should address an aspect of the problem your product or services solves.

For example, a mortgage broker could produce a report on how to pay off a home loan faster and save thousands of dollars.

Why is it effective?

Offering a bait piece builds up goodwill as you’re providing valuable information for free. It can also help to differentiate your business from your competitors and positions you as an expert in your field. If your bait piece is very useful it can also have high “pass-along” value.

What do I write about?

Your bait piece should fill an information gap in your clients’ knowledge. It’s a “how-to” document. It offers ideas and information that promise a desired solution to your clients’ problem. It tells them how to do something and why they should do it.

Obviously you don’t want to give the game away. You don’t reveal in nitty gritty detail how your product or service solves the problem. Rather, you give a 50,000-foot overview which makes them want to find out more. By giving a tantalising taste of your expertise you make clients curious enough to talk to you.

"Offering a bait piece builds up goodwill as you're providing valuable information for free."

What else can I write about?

Alternatives include fascinating research or survey data, a mini course or tutorial, pocket guide, buzzword guide or comparison chart.

Want more articles like this? Check out the attracting new business section.

What call to action do I include?

As part of the process of getting new clients, you must include a call to action at the end. Don’t make your call to action a request to buy your product or service at this stage. You just want to move prospective clients along to the next step of the buying process.

Create some urgency by explaining the consequences of not doing what you recommend. Then outline the next step they can take to get your help e.g. request a free phone consultation.

How do you format it?

Depending on your budget you can either create it yourself in Word or have it laid out by a graphic designer. Then you should convert it to PDF format so you can deliver it via email and over the web.

How do you use it?

You want to get your bait into the hands of as many of your prospective new clients as possible. Here’s how:

  • Offer to send a copy to anyone who makes a phone or email enquiry, and people you meet at networking events – much better than handing out business cards.
  • Make it available for download on your website, but only if people register their contact details. You can even promote it with a Google AdWords campaign.
  • Create a direct mail campaign offering your bait piece. Free information is an example of a ‘soft offer’ which is known to increase response rates to direct mail and other promotions.
  • Send out a media release about your bait piece and make sure you mention it in all your marketing materials.

Does a bait piece have to be a document?

No, these days digital bait pieces are quite common e.g. software applications and online calculators and tools. You can also offer a CD or DVD or a multi-part course delivered via email.

Have you used bait pieces to help you with getting new clients? If not, what sort of things are making you hesitate? Share your thoughts below.

Charles Cuninghame

is a copywriting expert and marketing trouble-shooter who helps business owners and marketing managers whose websites aren't delivering as many customer enquiries as they would like.

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