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Life is an echo, what you give out you get back quoteA taster session is one where you work for free or at a reduced rate to introduce yourself to potential clients. When I covered the topic of taster sessions in an article way back in 2011, the comments I received were overwhelmingly in favour of providing taster sessions as a method to secure new business. This feedback came with a number of caveats.

  1. Taster sessions should not be standalone freebies – they should leave people wanting more.
  2. Taster sessions are an opportunity to connect and show that you’re a match for the client in terms of content and delivery style. They should have value but not give everything away. You want people to think, “Wow, if they give this much away for free, what would we get if we paid?”
  3. It’s important to keep costs down – look for venues that will hire out rooms by the hour or consider using free public venues.
  4. Make sure your taster sessions are a good use of everyone’s time.
  5. Ask for feedback that you can use to fine tune the main training to meet your clients’ expectations.

But are taster sessions right for your training business?

Despite the feedback that people receive bookings as a result of offering taster sessions, many other trainers find them a drain on their time and resources that doesn’t always lead to bookings. In some cases, free taster sessions attract people who have little to no budget, and want to glean any hints and tips they can without paying for training.

There’s also a strong argument that giving away your time for free devalues your time and knowledge overall. Some even feel that free training sessions come with a whiff of desperation – are you struggling for bookings so much that you need to give away your time for free?

On the flipside, the Law of Reciprocity is the belief that what you give away, you will get back. Many business owners experience the benefits of giving freely as a way to generate good will and reputation.

Some clients will value the reassurance of getting to see how you work and whether your training is a good fit for their business before committing to payment. As a way to get your foot in the door and create a quality guarantee, free taster sessions can be compelling. If there’s a client you particularly want to work with, a taster session may be your way in.

I know and have known many trainers who have used the free taster session model to great success as a way to secure bookings and plenty of referrals. It’s not something I offer these days – mainly because my time is already spoken for – but free taster sessions have served me well at times.

Alternatives to face-to-face taster sessions

Quote: A candle loses nothing by lighting another candleThere are other ways to build your authority and showcase your knowledge without having to travel to a training venue for a free taster session. Have you thought about running one of the following?

  • A free webinar (live or pre-recorded)
  • Call-in conferences
  • Online chats
  • Forums
  • Podcasts

The beauty of something like a webinar is that you can potentially deliver it to hundreds of people in one go, depending on which software you choose, and record it for future use. You could even add the webinar to an online store and sell it to anyone who doesn’t sign up for the live event.

The same goes for call-in conferences – you can have thousands of people call-in to hear you speak, record the Q&A sessions, and repackage the whole thing as a podcast or audio file with transcript, letting you repurpose the content to create a passive income, as well as using it as a free taster session.

The benefit of this sort of training freebie is that you only need to deliver it once but can reuse it time and again to connect with potential clients.

If your taster session needs to be unique and delivered to a small group of delegates, you could always deliver a Skype training session or create a Google Hangout. This saves all the attendees from having to travel but will still give them the value of your content.

Creating chemistry and scarcity

If you’re not sure about offering free taster sessions, listen to your gut instinct. There are other ways to generate bookings and referrals.

In the feedback to my previous blog about free taster sessions, one trainer commented that she offers free ‘Chemistry’ sessions instead, where she sits down in a one-to-one session with the client to get a detailed insight into what they want from the training and the tools and methods that might be best for the delegates. This kind of personal approach is a powerful way of showing that your training services are bespoke to the client, and building an on-going relationship with a client.

Another approach might be to communicate a message of scarcity and exclusivity in your marketing – let potential customers know that your books are filling up fast and you will only be working with a group of select clients for the foreseeable future. Scarcity has a huge role to play psychologically when it comes to the buying process, as the more scarce something becomes, the greater the perception of its value and the desire to have it. You may even be able to increase your prices to reflect the scarcity of your offering.

Do you offer free taster sessions for your training business? Have you found them effective or are they a drain on resources? Have you ever run a webinar or call-in conference instead? I’d love to hear your experiences in the Comments section below.

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