Message & Media: Free for All
Even stronger than offering a free gift is offering a mystery free gift. Tapping what I learned at Fingerhut—where they tested everything—I've since added mystery free gifts to both consumer and B-to-B promotions, online and offline.
• Free Shipping: Free shipping encourages customers to buy online or by catalog rather than at your competitor's retail store. It can be used as an incentive to increase your average order size or spike faster ordering when combined with a deadline.
• Free Sample, Free Trial, Free Demo: These freebies answer the buying objection, "I don't believe it." When you give a potential customer a risk-free experience with your product or service, it transforms doubters into believers who become buyers. I've written about free samples, free trials and free demos for everything from Asian skin care products, designer note cards and pocket-size publications to outdoor landscape lighting, HVAC services and hog sperm.
• Free Whitepaper: The whitepaper has become the go-to lead generation offer, online and offline, for B-to-B marketers. Publishing whitepapers on important topics positions you and your company as being experts in your field. Offering them for free creates goodwill and generates qualified leads for later follow up.
• Free Kit: Notice I didn't say free information. A free kit has higher perceived value than free information, even though what's delivered is identical. In the September 2012 edition of this column, "The Kit Factor" (bit.ly/KR2t6p), I wrote about "How to Select the Right Fume Hood Kits" for lab directors, "Getting Started Kits" for insurance prospects and "Welcome Kits" for new customers.
• Free Quote, Free Needs Analysis: These are risk-free door-openers for products and services that normally require a multiple step sales process to close. This includes insurance, business software solutions, commercial real estate, even lawn care. Google TrueGreen Lawn Care and you'll see they offer a free customized lawn care analysis.