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AMiable Solution #356: How to Win at “Free” Marketing


We’ve all used the “free” approach in marketing before. But how many of us are using it correctly?

Experts have said it for years: “free” is a magic word when it comes to marketing. People love free things. And, more importantly from a marketing perspective, “free” capitalizes on an individual’s instinct to return the favor.


But with so many marketers using it, how can you be sure customers, the right customers, will respond positively? How can you keep your “free” offer from feeling like a gimmick, not a legitimate solution or tool?


For starters, make sure you explain why you’re offering an item or service for free. People are drawn to but suspicious of the idea of “something for nothing.” They’re looking for the catch. Alleviate their concerns. Be honest. If you’re still testing a product and need feedback to make it better, say so. If you’re trying to increase brand and/or product awareness, admit it. Customers will respond better when they understand your intentions and their obligations.


Then, make sure you demonstrate the value of your freebie. If it doesn’t help solve a concern or problem, if it has no practical use, or if it’s clearly a cheap attempt at publicity, prospects and customers will see right through it and pass.


Finally, consider marketing a free and a paid version of your offer. This approach not only validates the value your free product or service, but it also creates interest in the paid version, which, of course, has more functionality and capability. That, after all, is the goal of your “free” offer: to convert free users into paying customers.


Even if you do follow the above guidelines, it’s important to remember that the best use of “free” is still with qualified or targeted audiences. Your goal is to build relationships and future sales, and that’s more likely to happen with a list of pre-screened prospects, not a general audience.



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