What do you have that’s free?

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Nothing sells like free

I parked my car in front of a Jimmy John’s sandwich shop today, and I noticed that they had a neon sign that said “Free Smells”.  I thought that it was a really fun and attention getting marketing strategy.   I’m always more inclined to do business with companies that utilize humor.  Being fun and playful with marketing messages is a smart way to get people to pay attention to what you have to say. 

Speaking of fun, another company that I am always amused by is Trader Joe’s.  Have you ever read one of their grocery ad booklets?  They call it the “Fearless Flyer” (the fun begins with the title!) and the descriptions and illustrations they use for their wares are so witty and amusing that I look forward to getting their updated mailings. Which of course makes it so much more likely that I’ll see a product that looks tempting and I want to buy.  Their strategy works on me every time.

Witty is optional, but every business should offer something free to it’s customers.  By giving your prospective customers a risk~free sample of your products and services, it allows them the opportunity to become familiar with what your business has to offer.   This concept is often referred to as the “marketing funnel”.  By offering free samples and low priced products and services, there is a greater opportunity to increase sales of products and services which are more profitable.

Consider how Costco gives away all those free samples at any given time. We’ve all tried something tasty and then picked up a product that we hadn’t intended on buying when we arrived at the store.  Last week they enticed me into buying a huge tub of hummus, when I already had a sensible sized container at home in the fridge.

Imagine how you would feel if you walked into a store and a store employee approached you immediately with questions about your name and email address.  Wouldn’t you rather have time to look around, check out the merchandise, maybe sample some of the goods, and isn’t it more likely that only at that point you’d be interested in finding out when that store was going to have sales, discounts, and/or customer appreciation events? 

For internet based businesses, it’s important to offer things to customers that they not only don’t have to pay for, but there also aren’t any other strings attached in receiving, such as handing over an email address or a phone number.  Free downloads, surveys, reports, podcasts and videos are good examples for give~aways that could be available on websites. 

Offering something free is a wise marketing strategy for increasing profits.  Adding fun and humor as well, is a bonus if you’re trying to attract customers like me who appreciate that type of sales approach.


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