Reciprocity (aka Give-To-Get): 9 Steps to Take It Up a Notch

Or how Reciprocity (Give-to-Get) Works in Online Marketing

Give to Get - Online Marketing

What exactly is this give-to-get reciprocity thingy all about?

Per Wikipedia: Reciprocity is a response to a positive action with another positive action, rewarding kind actions.

That’s a fancy way of saying if you ‘give’ something to someone they will frequently be much nicer and much more cooperative than if there was no ‘give’.

Another way of thinking about reciprocity or Give-to-Get, is as a form of online hospitality.  If someone visited your home, your office, your storefront, you would greet them and perhaps offer them a cup of java, a tasting, a sample, some guidance to help them make a decision.

So it is with giving online – kind of online marketing karma.

Does Give-To-Get Work?

Sure it works!

How do you think all of those online gurus collect tens of thousands of email subscribers or Facebook likes or Twitter followers?  Almost all of social media and online marketing is built on the concept of Give-to-Get.

It also works offline as well.Give to Get example using Post-It-Note

In one controlled psychology study it was found that people would purchase more raffle tickets if an assistant had purchased a soft drink for them unsolicited.  A free drink generated more raffle ticket sales.

In another study in 2005 by Randy Garner demonstrated that the simple act of adding a hand written post-it-note to a survey, generated a significantly higher response rate and higher quality of responses than those without a post-it-note.

Both of these studies demonstrate that people feel a sense of indebtedness to those who do something for them or give them a gift.

That said you should understand Give-to-Get doesn’t work ALL of the time.  Much like the offline world, there are some who really prefer to be on the Get side of this equation and don’t offer much on the Give side.

But that’s life.  Don’t let a few bad apples stop you from doing your online karmic duty.

So what can I Give?

This question stumps a lot of business owners on Main Street.  Intuitively they understand what to do when someone walks into their store or place of business, but online, well, it gets a little hazy.

Many business owners fall back on the age old discount coupon in return for an email address or a Facebook like.  Yeah, yeah, I know “everyone wants a deal”, but the question you have to ask yourself is:

If my inducement is the same as my competitors, how does that give me a competitive advantage? 

Truth?  It doesn’t.

Consumers, online and off, have been numbed by the constant barrage of sales and discounts.  Frankly, having a sale or discounting means very little these days.  But offering something of value is a BIG thing.

Here are some of the qualities you as a business owner want to build into your Give to stand out:

  • Uniqueness that stands apart from your competition
  • A something your audience truly wants
  • Communicates value to your audience
  • Demonstrates your expertise and credibility in an subject area

Can’t your competitors do the same?  Sure, but look around.  Many aren’t.  Many business owners aren’t offering any Give.  You can move the dial before they realize it.

How difficult is this?

Not difficult at all.  Do a little homework, use your imagination and ask the right questions.

Give-to-Get Game Plan

Here’s a Give to Get game plan you can use to step it up a notch.

1.  Have a clear objective. 

What do you want to Get?  More email subscribers, more likes, more connections, in-store visitors, sales?

Keep in mind that if you want more sales, you can’t acquire customers until you have interested prospects.  So don’t put the cart before the horse.

But you do want to have a very specific business objective.

2.  Knowing your audience like you do, what do they want? 

You do know your audience, right?

You want to frame this as an ‘emotional’ want.  What do I mean?

People want a lot of things, but they pay most attention to the things that satisfy them emotionally…happiness, elimination of pain in any form, success, an exciting adventure, satisfaction, a level of success or self-confidence, pride, a sense of clarity, safety or relief.

3.  How best can you address this emotional want? 

Is it through:

  • Specific ‘how to’ tips and techniques
  • Information that only those in the industry are aware of
  • Training, instructions, courses
  • Cheat sheets or short cuts
  • Interviews with customer success stories
  • Live demonstrations
  • A 1:1 consultation
  • Samplings of the actual product
  • Giveaways that smack of value and that your competitors would never offer (e.g. recipes of your most popular dishes, a free custom review, entry into a chance to win a exotic vacation, etc.)

4.  Which format will you use for your Give? 

You have a lot of options these days.  There is the tried and true PDF, but isn’t that what most people use?

How many PDFs have you downloaded and never opened?  Right!

How about giving your Give a unique twist?  Why not create a:

  • step-by-step e-course spread across 5 days or a couple of weeks using autoresponders?
  • text message series?
  • power point presentation?
  • Free chapter from your successful book
  • Podcast series?
  • private VIP section on your website that receives private announcements of special events or deals?

Notice a few of these suggestions refer to a “series”.  That’s because one of the tenants of marketing is repetition.  The more you are able to bond with those who receive your Give, the more likely they will be to pay attention and give you a Get.  One easy way to do that is through an ongoing series that keeps you top of mind.

5.  What can you include that will give your Give some credibility? 

Could it be…

  • customer testimonials?
  • case studies?
  • independent research?
  • appearances on any recognizable news outlets or as a member of a industry or business association?
  • awards, industry recognition?

6.  What calls to action can you incorporate into your Give that will help you meet your objective?  

Yes, you can and should request a Get, just do so graciously.

7.  Which channels will you use to promote your Give to Get?

Why not use all of your channels?  Your website, on Facebook as a welcome gate, tweet about it occasionally, make your LinkedIn connections aware of it, in your store, as a table tent in your restaurant or counter, on the back of your business cards.

8.  Follow-up & Feedback

Remember the post-it-note study results?  Why not send a follow-up email to everyone who receives your Give requesting feedback so you can make it better.  If they really liked your Give, your email should also encourage them to share the sign-up form with others in their networks.

9. Make it happen. 

You know what you want to accomplish, you’ve identified your audience’s emotional want and the best way to address it.  You have the ideal format and you have some credibility, calls to action, and a follow-up plan.  All you need to do is start creating.

Bottom Line 

Give-to-Get is alive and well.  It is an online marketing expression of hospitality and graciousness.   Business owners ignore at their own peril.

Your Turn 

What do you think of Give-to-Get?

Has Give-to-Get worked for you?  Where and how?

Do you have any other Give-to-Get ideas to share?

Use the comments section below to share your thoughts and feel free to practice the reciprocity concept by sharing this post with others you think can benefit from it.

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Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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