Using the word “free” in your marketing is a quick way to get attention, but it's also a double-edged sword that has tripled many businesses.
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One of the most powerful words in the English language is the term "free". Do any of these sentences sound familiar to you?
“Buy one and get one for free.” “Get a $ 499 free gift with purchase.” “Get a free eye exam.” “Try our membership for FREE.” “Get Free Shipping”
It seems like almost every company uses some kind of "free offer" in their marketing. Why is the term "free" used so freely?
Because frankly, it works – by appealing to our basic human emotion of greed.
The word "free" appears in more ads than there are grains of sand on a beach. And it goes way back in the history of advertising when giving away free samples was the best (and only) new way to get customers. What makes "free" so good? "
Free attracts attention. It makes people feel like they are getting a lot. At a subconscious level, it also works the other way around – you feel like you're missing out if you don't use something for free.
But using the word "free" in your marketing can be a double-edged sword, especially if you don't use it properly.
Related content: The 5 triggers of psychological pricing
Is there a wrong way to use the term "free" in your marketing?
Absolutely. There are thousands of ways you can stumble upon the term "free" in your marketing, reduce the value of your product or service, and cause irreparable damage to your brand.
Let me give you a real example. One of our customers produced extremely high quality leather shoes and bags for men in Italy. Her most famous pair of boots was $ 3,500. Their most popular bag, a messenger-style laptop bag, was priced at $ 950. The company's previous marketing agency advised them that the best way to double their boot sales is to offer the shoulder bag for free.
As for compelling deals, that's pretty good, and it actually increased sales of the boots – in the short term. But in the long run it was a strategic disaster because now they had conditioned their customers to expect the shoulder bag for free.
In other words, by offering it for free, they had completely devalued this product (remember, it was the company's best-selling bag.) Worse, by offering something of great perceived value for free, they had also damaged their own luxury brand. Why should people ever pay full price again?
The good news is that people have short attention spans, and with the right strategic direction and messages, you can undo the harm of using "free". But it takes time.
The same dangers exist when you take advantage of discounts in your company. Then why are people paying full price when they discount your products? They're just waiting for them to go on sale. When our Italian customer came to us, he was facing a branding and sales disaster through no fault of his own. Fortunately, we were able to get them out of the cucumber by repositioning their products and reinventing their brand – a move that resulted in them being bought by a competitor eighteen months later.
Moral of the story: Taking advantage of a free offer can be a slide and must be used sparingly and carefully.
Similar: The price is right: How you price your product for long-term success
Before using "free" in your business, ask yourself:
Does this have any real value on which we depend for sales? If you offer this item or service for free, it will have a detrimental effect on other related services or products (e.g. if you offer and expect the initial consultation for free, getting paid for it.) all future consultations)? Why are we considering offering something for free? What else could we offer that would help us achieve the same result?
What if it is not your company that uses "free", but your competitors?
Now, if you're on the other side of the fence and your competitor is offering something for free that you charge for, it's time to get your marketing up to speed.
Just because money isn't exchanged doesn't mean it isn't paid for in some other way, e.g. B. by loss of time, great frustration or poor quality.
Think of the experience and quality of "free" health care versus a private plan. Use these analogies in your marketing to establish your value in your customers' minds.
"Free" is still a powerful word used in marketing to get attention. However, proceed with the utmost caution and don't be tempted to stimulate short-term sales at the expense of long-term growth.
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