Why Some Free Offers Fail, and What You Can Do About It

neon free signThere’s been a lot of discussion about “free” lately. David Meerman Scott has been talking about it. So has Chris Brogan. David is in favor of using free giveaways to build goodwill. Chris agrees but thinks there should be limits.

I agree that giving things away for free can be a great way to create buzz (and yes, there has to be a limit). However, if you’re going say something is free, make sure it really is free.

How free can go terribly wrong

A couple of days ago, Bob Bly posted that Joe Vitale offered a report for free on his site and then asked readers to buy him a gift certificate in return!

Last month, I bought a 3-ring binder which had an insert offering “free stock photos.” Turned out they weren’t really free.  You have to open an account at an online stock photo company, fund it, and then (and only then) can you access a limited number of free photos.

If you’re going to go to the trouble and expense of putting inserts in thousands of binders, why not make the images truly free? Offer 5 free downloads, or a limited trial period. Give the prospective customer something of value, that really is free. That will build the goodwill you’re looking for; being deceptive won’t.


The Secret Word Every Marketer Should Know

jumbled_wordsWe can all agree that we want more sales. But did you know that there’s a word that can help you get more sales, more inquiries, and earn more money?

What’s the word?

It’s “free.”

If you saw a sign in front of a store that said “Free beer” or “Free cake,” you’d go over to check it out. Right?

Why does this work?

It turns out our brains are wired for it. Research conducted by a scientist from Duke University found that people offered a Lindt chocolate truffle for 15 cents or a Hershey’s kiss for 1 cent took the truffle 3 out of 4 times. However, when the prices were reduced 1 cent, making the truffle 14 cents and the kiss free, the numbers changed drastically. This time, over two-thirds of the people chose the kiss.

Free Shakespeare, classical musical concerts, and opera in Central Park attract thousands of people in New York City every year. We stand on long lines to get tickets, or wait for hours to get a good spot on the grass.

It works with fancy cosmetics companies too (spend $35 on face cream, get a tote bag with blush, mascara, and lip gloss for free). You buy the face cream just to get the tote bag full of goodies; even if the colors don’t suit you…you can always give them to a friend.

If someone is handing out free samples, you take them (even if you don’t use the product).

Tomorrow, how to get more business using freebies.

Original Photo:D Sharon Pruitt