It never ceases to amaze me how many companies fear giving anything away for free, even when it’s something that costs them absolutely nothing. If these penny-pinching corporate giants could find a way to charge you for looking at their multi-million dollar logo, I bet they would. In the book of golden business rules, there should be a chapter dedicated to free gifts to woo your potential customers.
Fear not the free for it is the road to freedom
Take the cases of Warner Brothers Music who launched a battle against YouTube in attempt to prevent YouTube users from using their music on YouTube. The free-fearing company blocked or muted the offending videos, outraging users and costing them tons in legal fees. iTunes cleverly saw the popular user-generated videos as an opportunity. Instead of fighting YouTube, iTunes requested that any music sold via iTunes featured in a video include a link back to their store.
A lesson in the power of a simple free offer
#1: Advertise your free offer – Be like the roadside ice cream shop that advertised “Free public restrooms” prompting road-weary motorists in desperate need to pull over. No purchase necessary, no nasty “For customers only” sign. Want to guess how many treated themselves to a scoop?
#2: Find a no-cost giveaway – Don’t think because it doesn’t cost you money that it isn’t valuable to your customers. Helpful how-to tips sheets, access to wifi, and price comparison-shopping are just a few of the ways companies are winning at the game of free.
#3: Ask a partner to contribute a free giveaway – Find a partner company who would like to woo your customer base and ask them to contribute a giveaway. Think iTunes and Starbucks and their free music pick of the week – a win-win for everyone.
#4: Make it a “No strings attached” offer – Whatever you do – do not attach a bunch of strings to your free giveaway. Your customers will see past the smoke and mirrors and likely be more frustrated with the strings attached offer than no offer at all.
#5: Give the gift of service – Find unique and pleasing ways to accommodate your customers. A recent retail therapy excursion left me without a cute pair of shoes and a grumpy retail employee giving me a blank stare when I asked if there were other stores that carried them. One helpful call to the competition would have had my loyalty for life.
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