“Why buy the cow when you can have the milk for free?”
A sentiment that still plagues conversation and seems relevant to any topic is, honestly, absolutely wrong. The majority of businesses today succeed in marketing their product or service by offering free incentives or a freemium style product. Any marketer will tell you that growth hacker marketing exists off the advantage that free platforms provides consumers because they give incentives that directly drive traffic and leads.
You may think offering a free product will discourage users from purchasing, but that is not true at all. We offer plenty of free advice, links and information on our favourite tools, and provide free consultations to our clients. This has never cost us paying business and has only led to a happier customer base.
It is important to remember that a user who wants a service or product for free, will source it for free. In the day and age of the Internet, I can guaruntee that whatever you are offering is likely accessible for free or for very cheap. Those who want it for free, will get it for free. If someone wants to try and build their own website, they are not going to immediately make a purchase. Let people DIY, I say! These individuals are not your client base, but if you offer enough resources to them, they may just come back to you one day. Those who want to pay lower pricing or try the product or service out prior to a large purchase, will also find ways to source this - so why not offer this yourself? If you are the one to offer the free trial, they will be signed up and fully invested in your product and by the time paying comes around, they’ll be happy to do so. A paying customer will be happy to spend on the service they require. Offering free components does not deter a paying customer from paying for your service - it just provides an incentive for them to choose your product over a competitor.
Take us, for example - we offer free consultations, free quotes, and free blogs and e-mail marketing filled with unlimited resources. We don’t mind that our customer knows how to manage social media channels without us, or can learn how to build their own website. Having a client that knows the inner-workings of our industry is beneficial to us as we are able to better work with them to obtain their goals, should they turn to us for a service. As well, when a current client asks us a question about the digital world we are happy to answer. Do we normally charge businesses for consultations? Of course. But are we going to charge a current customer when they e-mail us about something new in the industry they have learned of and want guidance on? Absolutely not! We love helping our clients out and keeping them up-to-date on the industry. If they rely on us, then we become an industry leader and a go-to person for their digital knowledge, and that’s important to us.
Appealing to your customer-base is also great for SEO. No one’s first Google search is “Website developers in Toronto” - a lot of people who are curious about a new website are first searching for “How to build website,” “cheap website building,” “free website maker,” and similar keyword phrases. If we didn’t answer those questions that our potential leads are searching for, then they are never going to find us. We happily provide this information, and if a lead uses our information and is successful in doing it themselves - then that’s fantastic! If not, they know that we are a thought leader in the industry and know what we’re doing. Since we’ve helped them, and they’ve turned to us a resource, our sales funnel tells us they are likely to become a client.
Another example lies within apps - how many free apps have you downloaded that have pay-for-stars concepts or ads you click on to use the service? You are addicted to the app, love playing it, and don’t mind spending a few dollars or watching an ad to continue using it. Those who do mind, will delete the app at the end of the day. But the app developer is after those who don’t care and will continue to play.
Never be afraid to give away a service or product for free. It doesn’t need to be the core part of your brand - if you sell coffee you do not need to offer full coffees for free. But what about handing out samples around your store to customers who are sitting there all day? Or provide a card that allows the customer to rack up points from purchases and earn freebies? There are lots of ways to entice brand loyalty and the free incentives concept is one we fully believe in. It has never cost us anything other than time and has always led to a loyal and satisfied customer-base. Happy clients refer you to others and nothing beats word-of-mouth marketing, even if the digital age!