The Reason Why I Don’t Give Away Anything For Free

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Ready to unlock the secrets of persuasion and engagement in marketing? Picture this: you offer your audience something valuable, and in return, they feel compelled to reciprocate. This intriguing concept, rooted in Robert Cialdini’s ‘Influence,’ is at the heart of today’s episode. But here’s the twist—while generosity can be a powerful tool, striking the right balance is key. Igor delves into the psychology of reciprocity and its role in building your email list, driving conversions, and establishing your authority. Get ready for an eye-opening journey into the world of marketing persuasion.

[00:00] David O. Sacks Introduces The Show:

[00:20] In this episode, Igor is discussing the concept of reciprocity in marketing and how it’s influenced by Robert Cialdini’s work in his book “Influence.” He explores the idea of offering free items or content to engage people, entices them to join your mailing list, and trigger a sense of reciprocity. Igor delves into the history of using reciprocity in marketing, its evolution, and the balance between generosity and authority, emphasizing its role in building email lists, driving conversions, and establishing credibility.

[01:50] Cialdini’s Influence on Reciprocity:

  • There’s an interesting notion that suggests you should generously offer free items to engage people, entice them to join your mailing list and trigger a sense of reciprocity. 
  • This concept is deeply rooted in a remarkable book by Robert Cialdini called “Influence,” one of my all-time favorites. This book was among the first to introduce the concept of reciprocity, which means that when you do something kind for someone, they tend to feel a sense of obligation to return the favor. It’s a logical idea because we all want to be treated kindly in return.
  • The principle of reciprocity: when you do something nice for someone, they often feel compelled to return the favor.

[05:40] Exploiting Reciprocity in Marketing:

  • One of the early adopters of this strategy was individuals offering free ebooks in exchange for email sign-ups. They would provide high-quality content for free and, once they had people on their email list, start sending promotional offers.

  • This approach worked well in the early days of the Internet when people appreciated valuable free content and felt grateful for it.
  • This concept gained popularity, particularly through the work of David Pagan, who referred to it as “moving the free line.” The idea was to blur the line between free and paid content, giving away your best material for free.

  • This strategy was effective for a time, as people thought, “If this is what they’re giving me for free, imagine what I’ll get when I pay!” But eventually, consumers caught on, realizing they could simply take free content without any obligation to reciprocate.

[07:20] The Lingering Effects of Over-Giving:

  • To build a list of engaged and paying customers, you need to be seen as an authority figure or at least as someone to look up to, not down on.

  • Consistently giving away free items places you in a position where people perceive you as someone who is generous but perhaps needs to be more authoritative.

  • In essence, if you want your list to convert into buyers, you must make them look up to you rather than down on you.

[08:28] Igor’s Book On Email Marketing:



Igor Kheifets is an amazon best-selling author of the List Building Lifestyle: Confessions of an Email Millionaire.

He’s also the host of List Building Lifestyle, the podcast for anyone who wants to make more money and have more freedom by leveraging the power of an email list

He’s widely referred to as the go-to authority on building large responsive email lists in record time.

Igor’s passionate about showing people how to live the List Building Lifestyle.