Most Powerful Internet Marketing Tactic

The most powerful internet marketing tactic that I know (and I am an admitted lover of affiliate marketing, search engine marketing, and email marketing) is to disrupt the marketplace by giving away something that is valuable. Preferrably, something that your leading competitor is selling. Something that is selling well.

In 1996 when several companies were selling the Social Security Death Index on CD-ROM for about $39.95, and probably tens of thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands) of copies had been sold, Dan Taggart and I decided to give it away for free online. (We didn’t even require registration to access it).

In June 1996, we launched the 50-million record SSDI database on Ancestry.com. We followed this valuable give-away up with many other free databases and even free online genealogy software and eventually free downloadable genealogy software. These free offerings resulted in millions of visitors to our web site, and eventually many of them became paying customers for our other services.

But Ancestry.com’s “give-something-away” approach was not new. Many of the most successful internet companies of all time used this same approach:

  • Blue Mountain Arts offered free e-greeting cards
  • Hotmail offered free email
  • Yahoo offered the first free web directory
  • Lifeminders grew to 14 million registered users by offer free email reminder services
  • Freeservers.com offered free web hosting (and generated millions of customers)
  • Netzero offered free ISP access

During the bubble, some companies got carried away by offering free computers with internet access, hoping to “monetize” the (cheap) customer base through advertising and e-commerce. Didn’t work.

But the overall strategy continues to prove successful in the online world (and offline–ever heard of Gillette?).

Our latest company to launch a give-away strategy is LDSAudio.com, which just announced it’s goal to give away 100,000 audio copies of the Book of Mormon by the end of this year. I’m guessing that several hundred thousand audio cassettes and CDs containing the 24 hours of audio in the Book of Mormon have been sold in the last few decades. More than 120 million copies of the Book of Mormon have been printed since it was first published in 1830. Doubleday will be the first commercial publisher to print the book later this year.

Since only about 2% of the US population is LDS (“Latter-day Saint”) and there are only about 12 million Mormons worldwide, chances are you are not one, and you may not be interested in downloading this audio book. But if you want to see what Mormons believe, why not listen to the audio Book of Mormon in your car sometime? I have studied the Koran and many religious texts from other religions in an effort to understand what others believe. I just finished “Back to Jerusalem” and am working on “Heavenly Man” right now–two excellent books about the Christian missionary movement developing in China. House church leaders in China want to send 100,000 or more missionaries from China to take Christianity to the 2.2 billion people west of China where there is virtually no Christianity–to the Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim nations west of China. Fascinating books.

I think the world would be a better and more peaceful place if we would seek understanding of each others’ faiths, don’t you?

If you are LDS and want to help promote this free offer, please copy this link and place it on your web site:

Free Audio Book of Mormon

And feel free to email your friends and family.

One Comment

  1. Paul,

    I applaud ldsaudio.com’s program to “flood the world” with the Book of Mormon by making Dr. Woodbury’s recording of the Book of Mormon available for free. I am also thrilled at the reference on its home page to Pres. Hinckley’s challenge, in August 2005, to read the Book of Mormon. I encourage you to include the time element of his challenge (by year end, 2005), and also to quote his promise, which IMHO offers to members and friends of the Church alike a great opportunity to “test” or “prove” a prophet:

    “Without reservation I promise you that if each of you will observe this simple program, regardless of how many times you previously may have read the Book of Mormon, there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God.”

    Perhaps even include a link to the entire article!
    http://tinyurl.com/cep5a [brief alias to *long* URL at LDS.org]

    There is always, of course, a matter of taste in audio recording. Dr. Woodbury’s style is a bit too dramatic for my pedestrian taste, and I prefer the style of the reader (whoever he is) who recorded for the Church. Perhaps ldsaudio.com could even provide a link to the “competition?”

    http://lds.org/mp3/display/0,18692,5297-41,00.html

    My wife confesses that she has a hard time making time to read the scriptures, but after I downloaded 1st Nephi to her Palm Treo from lds.org, she listened to it during “spare moments” in three days! Decades ago the “audio alternative” even blessed my grandmother, who crocheted many precious heirlooms for her family while listening to LP’s of the scriptures.

    Good luck and blessings in all your ventures.

    Tracy Hall Jr.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *