How To Create Buzz And Get More Paying Clients With A Free Challenge

If you spend any time on social media you have probably not only noticed businesses, brands and coaches offering free challenges but you have more than likely even participated in one and for good reason as they can work incredibly well as a marketing tool.  

Free challenges are so popular because they can be a great no risk way for people to learn more about you, your story, expertise and while building trust, your email list and relationships that turn into paying customers and clients. 

Offering a free challenge can draw people to you (aka attraction marketing) and is key to building a foundation for your brand and a following of prospective clients. A free challenge can be put together and implemented over a short period of time like 7 days or a longer 30-day challenge when you have a solid plan and great content in place. A little bit of work on the front end that can bring long term results. 

If you have been considering offering a free challenge but have no idea where to start, you are in the right place! In this post, I’m going to break down this process more so you can see the benefits of offering a free online challenge, how it can lead to getting more paying clients and some how-to tips to help you implement your own free challenge.

Benefits Of Hosting A Free Challenge
Do you have a wealth of creative ideas for how to help and serve your audience but struggle with how to get the information out there, getting people excited about the services you offer and filling your sales funnel? A free challenge can be the perfect solution and as a way to introduce people to your business without shoving it down their throats, having to overcome skepticism, price of your offers or caving into icky fear of missing out and desperate sales tactics happening way too often in our industry.

Once people sign up for your challenge, they can experience the benefits of working with you first hand in a pressure-free space to see that you are the real deal. The people who participate in your free challenge will see the value of working with you and are more likely to become a paying client in the future. So, yes, while you are giving your time and talents for free up front, don’t underestimate the impact it can have on your business bottom line.

The crucial element to running an effective free challenge is to let go of the result and lead from a place of value and support. A free challenge is not about selling, it's to provide useful information that solves an urgent problem for your network, makes your audience feel that you have a genuine interest in their success, builds your authority and the like, know and trust factor. The key to creating a successful challenge is to provide daily tips, strategies and action steps that your participants can easily implement while generating measurable results. 

Here's a step-by-step guide to help you launch your own free challenge and get more paying clients:

Step 1 Choose A Theme, Length and Date
First, you'll need to choose a theme (naming your challenge), length and date for your free challenge. To help you sort through this process, ask yourself these three questions:

• What problem will your challenge solve? (Your challenge should solve a problem your ideal client has to ensure you are attracting the right audience. It's more getting the right people to sign up versus how many.)

• How long will the challenge last (7 days, 14 days, 30 days?) On what date will the challenge start and end? There is no magic number for this but ensure there is enough time to break the information down in easy steps to allow people to create results but not so much time that you’re giving all of your expertise away and devaluing your paid work. A 7 to 10-day challenge is usually a good number to go with especially if this is your first challenge. 

• Choose dates for your free challenge to provide a solid start and end date. This provides a clear time commitment up front and encourages people to block time out to show up and complete the challenge. 

Step 2 Create The Content
Once you have created a plan, break out and organize your content for each day. You can create a drip email campaign to deliver the content daily to your subscribers or create a Facebook group where you go live to make it more personal and conversational (we will talk more about that later in this post). 

Be sure that as you work through the content for this free challenge that you also plan ahead into your paid offerings so you have very specific paid services to offer as an upsell. Without this, you will lose potential clients who are ready to work with you on a higher level so ensure you have your paid services, content, landing/website pages completed to direct people to. 

Step 3: Create an Opt-In Form
Once you put your challenge content together, you can now use it as a high performing opt-in for your email list to capture leads from your website or lead page. There are many great email providers you can use. Mailchimp is free up to your first 1,000 subscribers. Other paid versions include ConvertKit, Active Campaign, Get Response and Aweber. 

Step 4: Market Your Challenge
With your content put together, opt-in form created and a plan in place of how you will deliver the challenge content daily, now it’s time to share your challenge and get participants! Share (don't spam) the link to your website and opt-in form across your social media pages. You can go live on your Facebook page, create fun eye-catching social media graphics for Instagram and write a blog post. 

It's important to do less selling of your challenge and putting more focus on the why behind your challenge, sharing a personal story to explain why this content is important to you, how the content you have put together has changed your life and/or business and what others can expect to get out of it. More sharing, less selling. 

Ideally, you want to create buzz and start collecting sign-ups about 5-7 days before the challenge starts. If you try to market any farther out than that, you lose the sense of urgency that will get people to sign-up right away. Any less, and you may not have enough time to get people excited about the challenge and signed up.

Step 5: Create a Private Facebook Group for Your Challenge
If you already have a private Facebook group that you use to create community and build relationships, great! If not, you may think about creating one and using it as a tool to communicate with your participants during the challenge and keep building rapport with them after the challenge is over.

Give the group a catchy name that connects the challenge with your brand. Make sure you set the privacy settings to ‘closed' so that you can control who gains access to the group, and to protect the privacy of your members as much as possible. If you make the group settings 'private' the group link won't be accessible for anyone to find, not even your participants. 

If you’re worried about not having enough participants, start reaching out privately to people who fit your target audience and do some personal inviting. Let them know that you are running a free challenge and thought of them because _________ (make your invite personal, no spammy copy and paste messages - I promise they don't work)

Don't let the first couple of days of marketing your challenge discourage you, people tend to wait until the last minute to commit. Keep sharing, give value daily, show up and you will find that consistency pays off. 

Step 6: Run Your Challenge
Deliver the content according to the plan you mapped out delivering it via Facebook live inside your Facebook group, webinar, email, etc. Use the Facebook group to have deeper discussions about the challenge material so your participants can get a feel for what it's like to work with you. Offer value, be attentive, sincere and as helpful as possible. It’s highly likely that some of your best clients will be people who got started with you in this free challenge, so give it your 110%.

Step 7: Up-Sell Yourself and Turn Participants into Clients
At the end of your free challenge, you should have an engaged group of people who feel accomplished an productive during their time with you, a group of people who are now your raving fans who also don't want to lose the momentum they created through your free challenge. This equates to a group of ideal people to convert into paying clients. 

Clearly communicate what the benefits are if they continue working with you, and what they risk if they don’t. Recap all the best parts of the challenge and highlight that this is only the beginning of their life-changing journey. Direct them to your website or landing page where they can learn more about your programs and offerings with a clear call to action of what they need to do to get started with you (fill out a questionnaire, free discovery call, etc.)

The more you poured into them during your free challenge, the less convincing you will have to do for them to hire you. To seal the deal, consider offering a limited-time special rate or bonus if they commit to continuing to work with you. This will create a sense of urgency and help you generate bookings right away.

Finally, be sure to stay in touch with all participants once the challenge is over inside the Facebook group you created and giving weekly value through an email newsletter. Just because someone does not work with you right away doesn't mean they won't but you have to keep nurturing the relationship. Some take longer than others to commit to one-on-one services due to time, family or financial constraints but they may still be a good source of referrals in the meantime.

Finally, take what you learned through this free challenge to create more free challenges and watch your community and your business grow and thrive. 

Did you find this post valuable? Be sure to leave me a comment, would love to hear from you and if you are planning to run a free challenge of your own soon. 


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Kendra Dahlstrom is a Christian Business Strategy & Life Coach, Master Trainer and Speaker who helps women of Faith discover, fully live into, and transform their God-given Calling into a profitable legacy.  She decided to start her own Faith-based coaching business so she could slowly transition from the corporate world to live a life that she loves - sharing her passion for Jesus Christ with others by serving them to discover and fulfill their Calling. 

Kendra has over ten years of leadership development experience and five years experience leading workshops, seminars, and trainings thousands of corporate employees. She uses Life Coaching techniques through the lens of the Bible to help her clients live their Calling to Him the way he envisioned (Ephesians 4:1) as they create a powerful partnership with Him to create a business that prospers (Galatians 6:9).

When Kendra isn't on a video conference or the phone with a client, she can be found playing with her children outside, in a fitness class, or quietly reflecting on the Word alone or with her women's bible study group.

Kendra Dahlstrom