Your business is trying to make bank, right? You want to be rolling in it, yeah? Sometimes you close your eyes and see yourself rolling around in piles of greenbacks, am I right? So, when I tell you that you need to start giving away more stuff for free, you might look at me like I’m crazy.
I know that in addition to providing a great service to your customers, you’re endgame is increasing your profits. It may seem counterintuitive, but giving away more can actually get people to spend more.
Furthermore, it can win you new customers. In a test conducted by Marketing Experiments, an IT content publisher turned 87.7% of free trial users into paying customers. In the marketing world, this is called “moving the free line.”
Think about it. You’ve never bought a car without taking that baby for a test drive. You’d never consider renting or buying a home without walking through and inspecting every closet and faucet. Give your customers the same opportunity; let them kick the tires a few times?
What’s a Free Line?
Imagine your products along a continuum with your lowest cost products at the top and your highest cost products at the bottom. The free line bisects this continuum; whatever is above can be considered gratis and whatever is below is what you charge for (see figure 1).
What you give away can take many forms: samples, trial periods, downloadable products, webinars, videos, techniques, etc. Your freebies have to make sense for your business and your customer. Think about what they value and how much of that you can afford to give away.
More than likely, there’s not that much that lands above your free line right now. Brace yourself, I’m about to tell you why you need to move that line down and give away more stuff.
Don’t be scared, I’ll be gentle.
• Give a Taste Test
Offering a free taste allows your customer to preview your high-quality product or service. They get a chance to evaluate what you offer before committing to purchase. This may be just enough to hook those nervous nellies who are hanging out on the fence. Without a preview, they’ll walk away. But a peek behind the curtain will be the reassurance they need to go from window shopper to customer.
• Walk the Walk
Offering valuable products or services without charge shows that you’re confident…you’re so confident that you know they’ll come crawling back for more after the first taste. Being sure your business is the best means not being worried that they’ll take the free stuff and run. No way! They’re going to enjoy the hell out of that free sample and be knocking down your door for more, even if they have to pony up this time.
• Share the Love
When you get something awesome for free, you can’t help but shout about it…or, for our purposes, Tweet about it, post about it, Yelp about it. There’s not much that gets me going like free advertising does. When you offer freebies that people like, they’ll do your job for you by telling their network all about you. According to Forbes, the average customer tells 16.5 people about products they dig. Consider social media and that number goes through the roof.
Have we agreed that moving the free line is a solid idea? Yes? Good.
Now you need to make sure that you do it right so that it actually benefits your bottom line as well as your customers. Use the tips below to ensure that your plan works:
1. It Better Be Good
If you’re going to use your gratis goods & services to gain more customers / clients / patients, you had better be sure that your giveaways are pretty amazing. Let’s be honest, that complimentary toothbrush & free consultation ain’t really doin in no more, doc… is it?
What I’m saying is that, whatever you hand out, make damn sure that it’s good enough to keep people coming back for more.
2. Don’t Give Away Your Profits
Moving your free line requires some planning. At the end of the day, the plan has to be cost-effective for your business. The swag can’t break the bank or this whole thing will have been for naught. It should be easy to produce, reproduce and distribute. Be willing to invest some capital, of course, but crunch your numbers before you execute to guarantee that the potential benefit outweighs the cost. Forbes recommends putting down 10% of your monthly sales on the free stuff, I say more. Much More.
3. Going, Going, Gone
Consider using one of the oldest marketing tricks in the book: scarcity. Give real time limits on your offer, 30 days is standard, but we’ve noticed random numbers elicit more of a reaction. Go with 27 days. Only give away 9 of your coolest widgets. Restrict your bribe to the 1st 3 people to comment on your blog / social media post.
Trust us. It works.
4. Keep It Stupid… Simple.
Customers are inherently wary about free stuff. “What’s the catch?” we ask ourselves when we see the word “free.” Make it super clear to your customers that there is no catch. Also, make it easy to get. You don’t want folks to have to jump through a bunch of flaming hoops just to try your product.
5. Get Feedback
Accept that not everyone who tries is going to buy. Ask yourself: Why didn’t they purchase? What could have been different that might have changed their minds? Record the people who take your freebie and track the rate at which they become paying customers. There are various methods of tracking this data: get their contact info, send out a survey (surveymonkey.com is one of our personal faves), learn, implement and monitor your e-mail marketing system carefully. Or, worst case scenario, go old school and use a spreadsheet.
This feedback is invaluable to your business and allows you to fine tune both your product and sales approach.
You know the expression, “They won’t buy the cow if you give away the milk for free”?
Make sure your milk is the best damn milk they’ve ever had and you’ll be converting samplers to buyers like it’s your job (it is your job). If you’re smart about how much you give away and make it easy for customers to access it, you’ll have successfully moved your free line, winning you new customers and street cred. Have the confidence that giving some away will make people want more.