Just today, I visited two different sites where the business owner gave away something for free: on one, it was a free consultation, and on the other, a free downloadable audio. In both cases, emblazened across the graphic advertising the free thing was something like, "A $400 value!"
Now, I know that's "how it's done" in Internet-marketing land. And I also know that people are tired of free offers. I'm not even sure how many people notice the "valued at" info, anymore—I just know for me, it's noise I move past with lightening speed.
Anyway, here's a thought I had: instead of putting a fake dollar figure on something you give away for free (in an attempt to give it an air of being valuable), create something of genuine value, and charge money for it.
For instance, if your goal is to find ideal clients (and whose goal isn't that?), level the playing field by offering something for which you charge money (a consultation, an assessment). The idea is that whatever the PC shares will tell you much about the "appropriateness" of the person as a prospective client for you, and that you can review it with the client, giving him some value (share one-to-three things you notice that he can do differently in his biz) for the fee.
I've offered that as an idea for five years in a program I teach about creating a rock-solid interview/consultation process, and I've yet to have any VA actually feel comfortable doing it.
Maybe it's time to give up the free. Serious people won't balk at paying. And the rest of 'em? Who cares, really?
What do you think? Could you do it?