You know me, I don’t like to brag. But…
… last weekend I successfully replaced the water temperature regulator in our shower.
Now, I understand. For you, this may not be a big deal.
Maybe you’re the kind of person who rebuilds car engines, or renovates kitchens, or knows how many volts can fit inside an ohm (or whatever).
I am capable of none of those things.
So, when the hot and cold water in our shower decided recently to start switching places quickly and at random, our first thought was to call a plumber.
But then it occurred to me, “Maybe I should give it a try?” And so I did.
After much googling, I found what I believed to be the correct part and ordered it online.
Even more important, I found BJ Poznecki, a Chicago-area home inspector whose 17-minute YouTube video, “How to replace a Kohler shower valve cartridge,” was exactly what I was looking for.
Now let me just stop right there and point out that usually, when you find one of these “helpful” videos, it’s not quite right.
The parts are different, the setup is different, and sooner or later, you run into some problem that stops you dead in your tracks.
But not this time. BJ was using the exact same part as I and his shower mechanism was identical to mine.
Thanks to his simple, step-by-step demonstration, I had it fixed in less than an hour, an achievement that I place on the miracle continuum somewhere between the parting of the Red Sea and the invention of the Slinky.
So, here’s my question for you: Is BJ making a mistake by showing people how to do this kind of thing themselves? After all, isn’t he “giving too much away” since now they don’t need to hire him?
My answer, as I hope you’ve guessed, is a resounding NO. Three reasons…
Reason #1. Novices tend to be overconfident.
As a non-estate planning attorney (just to pick one professional service example), it seems pretty simple to me: When I die, give it all to my family.
In practice, of course, there’s a lot more involved. Taxes, trusts, health care proxies, who gets all the stuffed penguins in my office, blah, blah, blah.
An estate planning attorney who explains these types of things in a monthly newsletter, while certainly allowing some of her knowledge to leak out (plumbing joke!), is also highlighting the don’t-try-this-at-home nature of the work.
The more she reveals, the more people realize that they are out of their depth. That prompts some people to say, “Let’s just hire her.”
Reason #2. Useful information demonstrates how you think.
I’ve been helping clients develop newsletters for a long time.
One thing I’ve noticed is that no matter how well I know them beforehand, and despite the roughly six weeks we spend together developing the concept, specifying the audience, pinpointing the voice, and all the rest, it’s not until we finally write the first newsletter together that I get a clear picture of what they do and how they think.
That’s a valuable selling tool. Because when you sell a professional service it’s really hard for people to sample you.
You may have a beautiful web site and active social media presence. You may have relevant degrees and experience. You may even talk a pretty impressive game when asked to discuss your work.
But sharing a specific insight or explaining a concept to another human in a way they can understand? There’s no faking that.
When you give away useful information, you are showing prospective clients what it feels like to work with you.
Reason #3. It doesn’t matter who doesn’t hire you.
The vast majority of people who consume your free information will never pay you a cent (thanks for nothing, vast majority of people).
But so what? You’re not a bakery worried about people eating too many of your free samples.
The beauty of everything having gone digital over the past 20 years is that it costs you nothing to spread the word far and wide.
The only calculation that matters is whether or not the cost and effort involved in creating and sharing your content is paid back in the form of additional business for you.
Don’t forget, too, that among the readers who never hire you are those who happily spread the word.
Here’s the bottom line.
In my conversations with professional service providers, I hear the, “I don’t want to give too much away” objection frequently. It’s time to put that sentiment out of its misery.
Professionals who publish entire books – books that presumably share all their hard-earned insights – don’t see a drop in business as a result… they see an increase. Your newsletter, podcast, presentation, or 10-minute chat at a networking event is no different.
As BJ Poznecki no doubt knows, the more you tell, the more you sell.
- What’s your favorite miracle (extra credit if you witnessed it)?
- How handy are you around the house?
- What’s your approach to giving away free information?
Share your answers below…
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I give away free information, in my newsletter, guesting on webinars and podcasts, and I’m here to say it works. The returns in awareness and enquiries make it worth it. Still trying to write newsletters as consistently informative, short and amusing as yours, though!
I’m glad it’s working for you too, Tessa!
I have witnessed a miracle, but it is too private to mention here. Secondly, I am pretty handy around the house, but give up on plumbing and electrical work (kudos to you for tackling your shower temp regulator!).
In my former career as interior architect I have always given way more information for free than I care to remember. It has never bothered me and I have benefited a lot by creating goodwill and a faithful group of clients. So, yes, to sharing information.
And, you are so right: many, many people will hire a professional to take of the job rather than doing it themselves.
You know that we really, really want to know what that miracle you witnessed is now!
Yes this is so true. I have witnessed many miraculous things, but it would be hard to share them all here. (I have seen ghosts…)
I prefer giving away information in this type of format than in my “free” calls or meetings that I offer to new clients. Thanks Michael for reminding us of the importance of being able to fix a shower. I am not handy, but my husband is a builder, and even he would rather call someone to repair our appliances (currently the fridge is on the fritz).
Have a wonderful day all!
It must be great to have a builder in the house. We built ours almost five years ago and things are now just starting to need repair! But it’s actually kind of nice to have some simple-ish things to fool with!
I witnessed the birth of my son (although my viewpoint wasn’t as good as that of my husband and the doctor) — still my favorite miracle.
Not handy around the house at all. I feel extremely proud every time I empty the recycling wastebasket into the bin.
The timing on this message is PERFECT . I’m giving a free webinar on Zoom next month for people who write fiction (about making introverted characters interesting), and was dithering over whether to record it so others could watch it anytime they liked. Sounds like the answer is a resounding “yes, make it available” — thanks, Michael!
Good point on the births. I’ve witnessed three (four if you count my own) and they are pretty remarkable.
I’m not sure on the webinar recording, though. Offering it free, absolutely, is beneficial, for all the reasons described above. But for a live event, you want to interact with people (unlike a newsletter where it’s all essentially “prerecorded”). If you record it and share it, you’ll greatly reduce attendance. I’m kind of on the fence with this one but I lean towards no recording.
What do you think?
Oh, I hadn’t thought about a recording reducing attendance — good reason not to do that after all!
I want people to see what it’s like taking a class from me, but seeing that in real-time is sure more entertaining than watching other people doing it yesterday or six months ago. So maybe it IS better to make the workshop a one-time event…but offer a different topic every quarter.
(Actually it’s not 100% free — people can donate ANY amount to ANY charity they feel like God has in mind, as long as it’s not their usual go-to. No need for them to send proof; I figure writers are generally Good People!)
Terrific newsletter Michael — absolutely on par with the parting of the Red Sea – in fact you could call yourself Moses!
1. I’ve always been partial to the miracle of the Loaves and the Fishes in the New Testament. (did not witness). Everyday mortals are not likely to perform a miracle – but often we can do a lot with very little. That’s my interpretation.
2. Not at all handy. Scale of 1-10 I’m about a minus 3. Fortunately I am married to a very handy guy.
3. I do an email newsletter with free information to help single women (and the people who love them) make sense of their money and their taxes.
Yes, I am the Moses of the shower (now to figure out how to part the stream).
And I receive and learn something from your newsletter every time, even though I am neither a woman nor single. You’re a great example of how a niche can be beneficial, without being limiting!
I have witnessed two miracles…I survived two near-fatal car crashes within 3 years of each other (a planet must have been in retrograde or something).
I am fairly handy. I disassembled my front load washer to replace the locking mechanism so it would go into the final high spin. That was more than four years ago and it’s still working…Gotta love Google:)
Ironically, your many comments on ‘expert’ is what people seem to think about you when you share information/expertise. I think ultimately we get into business to be of service and helpful. I would like to see people living their best life. If my knowledge can facilitate even a little bit of that- it’s worth it!
Wow! Glad to hear about the car miracles. And I like your perspective about sharing knowledge.
1. Miracles – yes, from surviving a car accident to kids/grandkids and more.
2. Handy – yes, but prefer to hire most jobs today. My brother and I finished building a house as teenagers after my Dad died. Learned a lot, including that I never want to do cement work in my life again.
3. Advice – yes – free newsletters, free webinars, free magazine articles, free advice (never charged for 20 minute phone calls.) Once did a free book as a supplement to a magazine — “sold” 130,000 copies on one day — instant credibility/visibility that vaulted our small engineering consulting firm to national prominence over night.
I totally agree with giving away free advice. Ironically, was advised not to do so when starting out, but it just felt right. My Dad often said “Cast your bread upon the waters…”
Sounds like we are very much on the same page regarding free info, Daryl!
I love your format newsletter, and especially the comment form! May I ask what tech you use to include it?
I promote email as a two way conversation, and this format is Awesome!
Hi Stephanie! It’s just the wordpress default capability for comments. I agree, it works quite well and I especially like the fact that people can stay updated on the comments if they like without having to comment themselves.
My favorite miracle was the birth of my kids. I both caused it and witnessed it.
Handy around the house? Re-wired one house, finished the basement of another, installed a pool, put up a fence… pre-YouTube I might add *shining my fist on a puffed chest*
Just don’t ask me to do dishes. I can’t figure out how to get the soap in the sink and make it all sudsy and stuff.
I do need to give away more info. I think it demonstrates what you know, builds confidence in prospects, and people need to see that today. I’ll work on increasing that. I still operate a part-time vending concern. Your point to giving away info to more sales than before is similar to sometimes raising prices on items and actually selling more. Very odd how that works.
I agree. It’s an odd thing, as with the pricing phenomenon you mention. As I often say, my psychology degree has turned out to be way more valuable in business than my business degree.
And congrats to you on the handiwork! I’ll be calling you when the next thing breaks…
HaHa. Same thing with my psych classes, even as an engineer. Had I been in liberal arts, had enough for a minor. Fascinating stuff, and very helpful in my business. Also with raising my kids 🙂
Mike I can’t thank you enough for including me in this episode and all the accolades! Words can’t express how great it made me feel when I googled myself and found this article.
Your posts continue to be helpful to me as a know-nothing homeowner, BJ!
The sun comes up every day, sometimes I’m awake to see it most of the time I’m still asleep.
My handy skill is that I have a very handy husband who will take on anything whether he is qualified or not 🙂
I say give away as much for information as possible, and for the exact reasons you have posted.
I like your handy skill. Seems like a very streamlined way to get things done!
1. My favorite miracle was the U.S. Navy transferring me from an electronics technician billet (a skill in extremely high demand at the time) to a musician billet (“Who needs musicians?”, asked one Chief in the request chain). I was told repeatedly that the transfer would never, ever happen, and yet it miraculously did, and I proudly served our country as a rock guitarist. Go Navy!
2. I’m pretty handy by necessity. My sons are grown and gone, and my wife and I live on five acres where there is ALWAYS something to fix. I’ve gotten pretty good at it.
3. I now teach piano and guitar, and give away free information related to learning and playing those instruments all the time.
I was not aware that the military had rock star guitarists! Way to go, Gordon!