Imagine you could utter a word and have people swarming around you, eager to learn more about how your service can transform their lives.
Fortunately, you don’t need to be Harry Potter in order to use it.
The word is FREE.
Over the last century, it has probably initiated more sales than any other word in the English language.
And today, I’m going to teach you:
The theory behind why ‘free’ works as a business
Why ‘FREE’ works like a charm
Most business owners think that giving their resources away is INSANE.
After all, the whole point of owning a business is to make money!
If you give away a finite resource, like your time or a physical product, then yes, you will initially be out of pocket.
However, what you’re doing isn’t just giving things away willy-nilly. There’s so much more going on behind the scenes:
- You’re building trust for your offer by proving it has value
- You’re identifying the right prospects who need your help
- And, you’re getting permission to start having a conversation with them which can lead to future sales
My chocolate cake story
To illustrate the point, I’ll share with you a story about a freebie offer that I recently bought into.
I was sitting in a coffee shop in Glasgow, sipping away at my latte when the waitress hops over to my table and asks:
“Hey, we’ve just made a delicious chocolate cake and we need a taster. Would you like to give it a try?”
I love chocolate cake, so I agreed and she brought out a little sample for me.
I put the piece of cake in my mouth and…DAMN
As I had finished it, she re-approached the table.
She was like: “So…How was it?”
I nodded and made the human purring noise… Mmmmmmm.
Her next question was pure sales gold…
“Would you like some more?”
What do you think I did?
Of course, I bought a full slice AND I bought I bought another coffee to go with it.
Why are people drawn to free offers if they just end up buying anyway?
To answer that question, we’ve really got to understand the two key drivers of all human decision making:
You see, every single choice we make comes down to this question:
“Will it cause me pleasure or will I feel pain?”
Naturally, most people are risk averse so they put greater weighting in decisions that will reduce the chances of negative experiences
Free literally means ‘without cost or payment’.
That signals to people who read the word that there’s less risk of negative consequences if they take you up on the offer…
They won’t be out of pocket and they won’t feel stupid if the offer turns out to be a dud.
When I was offered the free piece of cake, I had nothing to lose so it was easier for me to say “yes”.
This makes free offers much more appealing than traditional offers.
Why most businesses try ‘free’ and fall flat on their face
You can’t expect everyone to instantly become a customer after trying out a freebie. That’s the nature of the deal.
But, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of getting people to make a purchase.
1. They don’t get their targeting right
By far the most common mistake businesses make with this strategy is that they promote their freebie to everyone.
What ends up happening is they end up speaking to 3 groups of people:
- People who are not interested in your offer
- People who actively look for free things
- People who need your help
If you waste your time offering your freebie to groups 1 and 2, you’ll waste your time, money and resources.
By focusing on group 3, the people who need your help, they’ll actually find value in your offer and will have a much higher chance of becoming repeat customers.
2. They overdo the freebie
Surprisingly, trying to ‘wow’ your audience with extensive programmes will actually put them off your service.
You’re not trying to solving their problem right away. Instead, with the freebie, you’re giving them a glimpse of what life can be like if they continue to work with you.
You’ve got to keep in mind that these people haven’t had to risk anything yet so they’ve got no skin in the game. They’re still in ‘trial-mode’.
To put this into context, imagine the waitress from earlier offered me a full-on big slab of chocolate cake right off the bat.
I would either eat it all and be satisfied or I’d reject it because I wouldn’t think I could stomach it at that point.
If you pull out all of the stops and give away your best trick then there will be no reason for them to make a further purchase.
3. They don’t follow up
Lastly, if you don’t follow up with a second offer you’ll miss out on potential sales.
Up to this point, if you’ve selected a suitable candidate for your freebie and you’ve given them something of value (but not too much) then you’ll have created an awareness of a need.
If the waitress just left me salivating in a post-chocolate bliss without following up, I may have ended up going elsewhere to satiate my sweet-tooth.
Making a follow-up offer isn’t difficult.
All you need to do is validate that they liked what you initially gave them, and make them an offer.
By giving away something for free, you can make a substantial impact on the number of potential sales you make.
I would recommend anyone who’s read this to take a look at their business and think about what they can give away to their target market to initiate a conversation.