Message & Media: Free for All
Direct response writers (and their readers) know that one of the most powerful motivators in the English language is a four-letter word. It’s the word “free.”
Free nudges fence-sitters by eliminating risk. It rewards the deal-seeker in each of us. And it’s a tool for separating you from the competition. It’s also a faster read and more engaging than words and phrases such as “complimentary,” “at no charge” or “courtesy of.”
Free jumps out at you whether it’s in an ad headline, envelope teaser or call-to-action button on a landing page. You’ll find free in fundraising copy, as well as consumer and B-to-B marketing messages. And while it earned its reputation in direct mail, today’s most successful digital marketers also appreciate its power. A visit to Amazon.com confirms this.
Direct marketing author, practitioner, and DMA Hall of Famer Richard “Dick” Benson called it magical. Joan Throckmorton, one of direct marketing’s all-time great copywriters, dubbed it “The Great Motivator.”
Free adds value to your offer, makes comparison shoppers sit up and take notice and gets your mailing opened first.
Note: Be cautious about using free in email because of spam filters. Email expert Jessica Best at emfluence.com told me, “You’re OK using ‘free’ in email, as long as the rest of your email isn’t too spammy. For example, how many times you use free in an email and whether it’s lowercase or all caps affects whether or not your email gets bumped as junk. The size of the type font used also weighs in. Best practice is to always run your email through a spam-detector and adjust accordingly.”
So try these tips for using free to your advantage:
• Free Gift: I learned the power of the free gift when I wrote for Fingerhut. They offered free gifts in every mailing that went out the door. Free gifts work, especially when the gift is related to the product being sold. It may even be something you already include with your product/service, but you haven’t promoted (e.g., carrying case, furnace filter, how-to video, assembly tool, etc.). It’s the value to the customer, not the cost, that matters.