Why You Should Sell First Then Give It Away For Free

By February 7, 2012

The current obsession with “product” is probably the worst thing to hit the startup community since Color.

Worry about selling. Building a product before you’re able to sell it is a guaranteed recipe to fail — hard.  I recently started a new business and my first task was to sell.

I pre-sold my product based on the idea alone before I ever spent a dollar on development.

If you can’t sell your product to someone for cold hard cash based on the idea alone in person, then you’re in for a beating.  The in-person selling exercise is your best chance you’ll ever have to close a sale.  Online marketing is impersonal and notoriously difficult.  If you can’t sell your product with an in-person pitch and all your charm, then you better move on.

Knowing that your product sells is awesome.  The next most important thing is to find a way to reach your target audience.  Getting people to notice you when you’re a nobody sucks — period.  You need to do something big fast.

After pre-selling my product, I started to work on building publicity and mindshare.

I chose to make a big splash by offering crazy value for free, while I’m building the product.

I don’t have the ability to write convincingly enough for my copywriting to bring the house down.  What I can do (as well as any startup) is to create value.  It’s a lot easier to get publicity by doing something than writing about it.

I created a website that provides free continuing professional education or learning credits that one of my target audiences needs to retain their license.  Googling these credits shows that the average cost for it is about $89 dollars per credit.

I applied and receive approval by the necessary federal and state departments to become an official provider.  I’ve now cornered the market and mindshare for my target audience.  They need me.  They have to come and find me to get their free credits to keep their license.  This website is now part of my sales funnel to sell my product.

Was doing this a giant pain in the ass?


Was it equally necessary?


It’s never easy to do something important enough to grab attention.  But, it’s always worth it to at least try.  We’re all in it to succeed and if you’ve been in the game longer than 2 weeks, then you know that everything we do takes an impossible amount of effort.  So, do what you do best.