BribeI can almost hear the outraged cries!  However, we all accept bribes from time to time – I’m talking about those tempting ‘How to’ or Tips documents that are offered on many websites.  The bribe is ‘get this tasty, hot knowledge in exchange for your email address and name.’  Most of us are happy to do the swap and know that we can always unsubscribe later if we want to.  This is why these free documents are often referred to as an ‘ethical bribe’.

Of course, it only remains ethical if it delivers real value and if it does most people are delighted and you’ve started a relationship in a really positive way.  I find it a great way to introduce people to my knowledge and expertise and most of the people who sign up to one of my lists are happy to be on them.  They know I only send out information when I have something worth sharing and don’t spam them with loads of electronic flotsam.

Over the years I’ve offered a series of free reports, a checklist, a 27 tips document and, currently, a one hour free video tutorial.  I’ve had loads of positive feedback so I know it works.

How do you create an ethical bribe?

There a number of boxes you need to tick:

  • It must add value for the reader so must offer them information they can use to help themselves in some way.
  • It needs a title that engages the reader to persuade them that it’s worth parting with their contact details.
  • It needs to be presented professionally i.e. smartly laid out, professional biography with your contact information at the end, ideally some interesting (and relevant) images included to give it life and energy and delivered as a pdf.

Putting it together

Start with a subject that you can offer expertise around.

Decide whether you want to create a list of short tips, a step-by-step How to process, a checklist or a few major errors people generally make around this subject.

Start jotting down the things you want to include around your chosen subject.  TIP:  I usually use a mindmap to do this, it’s easy to gather information that starts off randomly into logical groups.

Create your document and develop these into a short document.  It doesn’t need to be long, a checklist can be a single page.  If you want to offer substantial value a meaty report would be about 10 pages.  As long as the information is of value it doesn’t matter how many pages it is.  Generally I aim at between 2-5 pages.

Give it a smart cover page and publish it as a pdf.


You’ll need a system to manage this – if 1500 people sign up you don’t want to be sending out these one at a time!  If you have an in-house CRM system such as Infusionsoft you’ll be able to do it through that.  If you don’t have this there are a number of online systems that you can use AWeber, Get Response, Constant Contact, MailChimp.  There is a monthly subscription, but if you’re building a marketing list it should be well within your budget.  These systems give you a piece of code that creates a smart sign up box on your website and automatically deliver the report.

If nobody knows it’s there you’ll need to promote this on social media, on your email signature, on your marketing flyers, even on your business card to encourage people to go and sign up for your ethical bribe.

Why don’t people just get it and then unsubscribe?

Some will, but, if they’re interested enough in the report content to download it they will see you as a source of potentially useful information.  As long as you don’t abuse that trust you’ll win a loyal list of potential customers.  They may not buy anything today or even next week, sometimes it takes a year or more before they’re ready and some won’t ever buy, but might recommend you to their friends and associates who will.  Think of it as starting to build a relationship.  Everything that you send them adds a brick to the bridge between you.

So – are you ready to offer a bribe?